Match Report: City come away 1-2 winners in first pre-season friendly

Melbourne City FC was in action for the first time as A-League Champions on Saturday, taking on Western United in its first pre-season friendly.

While the first half was a fairly uneventful 45 minutes, goals to Mathew Leckie and Jamie Maclaren within 10 minutes saw City in the box-seat. It took until the dying seconds but Western United was eventually able to pull a goal back, the fixture ending up 1-2.

Starting XI

33. Matt SUTTON (gk), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 3. Scott JAMIESON (c), 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 8. Aiden O’NEILL, 9. Jamie MACLAREN, 10. Florin BERENGUER, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 16. Taras GOMULKA, 22. Curtis GOOD.

Substitutes: 42. Ahmad TALEB (gk), 34. Jordon HALL, 35. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, 36. Kerrin STOKES, 37. Max CAPUTO, 38. Jordan BOS, 47. Jordi VALADON, 48. Luke ORESTI, 52. Matthew GRIMALDI, 59. Charbel SHAMOON.

What happened?

The first half was about as you’d expect in the first pre-season friendly for both sides. Neither created any huge chances in what was a cagey start to the encounter.

City had more of the early possession, with Aiden O’Neill playing a big role in allowing his team to control the middle of the park.

On the pitch in City blue for the first time since May, Curtis Good seemed to have not missed a beat, making a couple of important interventions and playing some quality long balls from defence in tricky conditions.

The best chance of the half fell to Leckie who, in his first outing for City, cut inside from the left-wing and fired a powerful low shot at Ryan Scott, which the keeper did well to save.

While the first half may not have seen a whole heap of action, it didn’t take City long to kick into gear after the break.

A dangerous Nabbout cross from the right-hand side found Maclaren in the 53rd minute, and the strikers shot rattled the crossbar. The rebound was picked up by Taras Gomulka and Leckie was found in a dangerous position in the box and made no mistake from close range.

A second goal almost came just minutes later when Leckie went on a powerful run down the right and found Florin Berenguer alone in the box, but unfortunately, the Frenchman couldn’t find the target.

Western’s had one of its best chances of the game just after the hour mark when a low shot was fired at keeper Ahmad Taleb who reacted quickly and got down low to get a strong right hand to the effort.

Maclaren made it two for himself and City in the 62nd minute after Gomulka won a free kick on the edge of the box. The strikers attempt was initially blocked but fell straight back to him, before second time around he somehow – through a see of bodies in the box – put the ball into the back of the net.

Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo had seen enough with 20 minutes to play and virtually swapped out his whole team, ensuring plenty of youngsters would get a run.

While there weren’t a whole heap of chances for City in the closing stages, Charbel Shamoon, Jordi Valadon and Max Caputo all had some nice moments in their time on the pitch.

It took until the dying seconds but Western found a way past Taleb, a low strike across the keeper finding its way into the bottom corner just before the whistle.

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