Melbourne City FC has extended its winning run in the A-League Men to three games after its Saturday night 2-1 victory over Sydney FC.
The visiting City boys opened the scoring thanks to an own goal from Paulo Retre, before Milos Ninkovic equalised for the Sky Blues just after half-time. The game looked bound for a 1-1 final scoreline, but a moment of Mathew Leckie brilliance from outside the box saw the visitors come away with all three points.
There was plenty of movement in the matchday squad, with Aiden O’Neill dropping out following a head knock he sustained last time out. He was replaced in defensive midfield by Rostyn Griffiths, whilst Connor Metcalfe returned from suspension at the expense of Marco Tilio, who shifted to the bench. Tsubasa Endoh was named to the matchday squad for the first time.
A tense start demonstrated the quality of either side with some good, flowing moves early, but the 10th minute nearly brought a horror moment for City out of nowhere. Adam Le Fondre had been released with a through ball and Tom Glover came steaming out to intercept but mistimed his run badly and allowed the English striker an uncontested chip at an empty net that fortunately strayed wide.
That early chance was a sign of things to come as Sydney continued to look the likelier of the competing sides to find the back of the net. A 2019-Grand-Final-esque back post opportunity for Rhyan Grant arrived in the 22nd minute, but he fortunately elected to head it too far across goal rather than have a go himself.
Making up for his early blunder, Glover came up big for his side on two occasions just after the half hour mark, with one of his saves leading directly into a lethal counter-attack for his team in the 32nd. City’s all-Socceroo front three broke away at break-neck speed and the move culminated in a shooting opportunity for Leckie, whose shot was initially saved but rebounded into Paulo Retre, who could do little as the ball struck his leg and ricocheted straight into the back of the net.
After being second best for most of the opening 45, City fans likely welcomed the referee’s whistle to signal half-time so that the team had the chance to reset for the second period.
The wet and wild conditions may have impacted some aspects of the contest, but Florin Berenguer looked as comfortable as ever in the 50th as he danced his way past a defender and into the area to chip a cross to the back post. Whilst the resulting header wasn’t immediately dangerous, the move culminated in a chance for Connor Metcalfe, who blazed his shot over the bar.
The miss would prove to be costly as Sydney would equalise just three minutes later, with Milos Ninkovic latching onto a spillage inside the area and blasting it past City’s defensive bodies into the back of the net.
The Serbian then had a huge chance to put his side ahead less than two minutes later, but inexplicably missed at close range with the goal gaping.
There was plenty of urgency about both sides over the remainder of the half, but the accompanying quality to convert just wasn’t there – until Leckie stood up and made himself the hero with a stoppage-time winner from outside the box to secure all three points for the travelling City.
City continues its recent tug-o-war with Western United for top spot, with the team returning to the A-League Men’s summit for now. Kisnorbo’s side will look to extend its winning run to four games when it returns home to host Perth Glory on Wednesday night.