Melbourne City FC’s 2021/22 Izuzu UTE A-League campaign has gotten off to a positive start, with the City boys running out 2-1 winners against Brisbane Roar. Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe got their names on the scoresheet to secure City’s one-goal opening round win.
In his first lineup of the 2021/22 Izuzu UTE A-League season, Patrick Kisnorbo was able to name City’s all-Socceroo front three for the first time, with Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout all starting on the pitch. After his two-goal performance in the FFA Cup Round of 32, Scott Galloway retained his spot at right-back, with Nathaniel Atkinson moving to the bench. Nuno Reis was the other change for City from their win over South Melbourne, coming into the lineup for Rostyn Griffiths.
City started the encounter much like their recent FFA Cup fixture, enjoying a large share of possession in the opening 15 minutes and making frequent inroads into the opposition area, though without reward.
Chances started to build from there on, with Maclaren provided with a pair of superb crosses to find his head, with one aerial effort skimming over and the other blocked by a defender.
City’s best chance of the opening half hour arrived in the 26th minute, with Nabbout playing a peach of a through-ball for Maclaren to latch onto inside the area. However, our usually lethal #9 screwed his effort wide of the post, leaving fans stunned that City hadn’t secured the first-half lead.
From there, momentum swung in Brisbane’s favour, with their best chance arriving in the 31st minute. Tom Glover had to come up with a huge save to deny the Roar a first-half lead, with Jay O’Shea’s close-range effort reflexively kept out by the City shot-stopper.
With the Roar well and truly back in the game, City needed some good fortune to find a breakthrough and they were able to find it twice in short succession.
Following a 40th-minute corner, the ball spilled out to Maclaren to strike forcefully at Brisbane keeper Macklin Freke, forcing a good save but also causing the ball to rebound back into the path of Curtis Good, who was able to finish uncontested from close range.
Soon after, it was Connor Metcalfe who would score for the second consecutive week and put City two goals ahead. The midfielder received the ball at the edge of the area and struck forcefully, with his shot taking a deflection to deceive Freke and find the back of the net, affording City a 2-0 lead going into the second half.
Though neither chance was overly threatening, Brisbane made the stronger start to the second half, with both Nikola Mileusnic and Corey Brown firing at goal. The former tested Glover from range in the opening minute while the latter volleyed wide of the upright following a cross in the 49th minute.
With chances drying up around the 60th minute, the stage was set for some game-changing substitutions, with Kisnorbo bringing on Tilio for Leckie in the 63rd. However, it was Brisbane’s Luke Ivanovic who made the biggest impact from the subs bench, firing a shot just past Glover’s left-hand upright a few minutes into his cameo appearance, before netting in the 71st with an unmarked header.
The Roar thought they’d found the back of the net again in the 80th minute, but the headed goal was brought back for offside following the set-piece.
With neither side able to create a dangerous chance in the remaining 10 minutes, City were able to hang on to the lead and secure the 2-1 victory in their home opener.
We’re top of the league!… for tonight at least, with City’s three points seeing us into first place until we learn the results of the remainder of the weekend’s Round 1 games are played. Another home game, this time against Adelaide, is what lies in wait for the City boys on Saturday, November 27.