Melbourne City FC claimed another victory in the A-League Men’s competition on Tuesday night, defeating Central Coast Mariners 3-2 at AAMI Park.
It was a see-sawing affair all the way through, but the boys had the resilience to net three times through Jamie Maclaren, Florin Berenguer and Marco Tilio after initially going behind late in the first half.
Following a 3-0 victory over Newcastle Jets last Friday, Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo had little reason to make many changes to a winning formula, only bringing Curtis Good into the lineup in place of Rostyn Griffiths, who moved to the bench. Connor Metcalfe missed the clash through suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards.
The contest got off to a bruising start with some heavy challenges from the visiting Mariners, but it was City who got the first good opportunity with Florin Berenguer rifling a shot over the bar in the 9th minute.
The game settled down both in terms of intensity and goalscoring chances from there, with neither side getting another opportunity until the Mariners’ Moresche was too heavy with a curling effort in the 30th.
A pair of City opportunities followed in the 37th and 38th minutes, but both Andrew Nabbout and Marco Tilio failed to beat Mark Birighitti who was able to make two relatively comfortable saves.
It was a half that didn’t really deserve a goal, but it suddenly sprang to life once stoppage time was announced. Some individual brilliance from Beni N’Kololo to glide through the City defence saw the deadlock broken in the 45th, but it took just two minutes for City to hit back through Maclaren, with Tilio awarded a penalty after he was fouled whilst dribbling into the area.
The second half saw a similarly fiery start, but the home side was able to overcome that this time around, going ahead through Berenguer in the 57th. The Frenchman played a one-two with O’Neill who clipped him into the area, with City’s #10 then able to volley into the bottom right corner with astounding composure and technique.
Unfortunately, City’s lead didn’t last long, with defender Jacob Farrell teeing up his captain Oliver Bozanic at the back post for a simple finish in the 65th.
With all momentum sapped, it was going to take the boys’ collective efforts to hit the lead again, and that’s exactly how Tilio’s 73rd-minute go-ahead goal came about. Some brilliant final third interplay saw a flowing team move seamlessly find its way to the diminutive midfielder for the simple finish from the centre of the penalty area.
Another lengthy penalty review, this time in the final minutes of the game for the Mariners, could have spoiled City’s night, but the original no-foul decision was upheld and the home side was able to see out the 3-2 win.
The result takes City back to the top of the table with Western United not far behind with a game in hand. The boys will hope to stay around the top with a win in their next game away to Sydney FC on Saturday, February 26.