Melbourne City suffered its first defeat of the A-League Men’s season on Saturday night, going down 2-1 away from home to Sydney FC.
Jamie Maclaren scored the opener and broke his own record by scoring in a seventh straight league game, but it was to no avail as the hosts answered with goals in either half.
Rado Vidosic took charge of City’s Men’s squad for the first time and made two changes to the team that last took to the pitch just under a month ago.
Andrew Nabbout returned to the XI in place of Marco Tilio, while Aiden O’Neill missed through suspension, triggering a reshuffle that saw Nuno Reis return and be paired with skipper Scott Jamieson in the heart of defence, while Thomas Lam moved to midfield.
Starting XI: 1. Tom GLOVER (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 4. Nuno REIS, 3. Scott JAMIESON (C), 38. Jordan BOS, 6. Thomas LAM, 8. Richard VAN DER VENNE, 14. Valon BERISHA, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 9. Jamie MACLAREN.
Substitutes: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 16. Taras GOMULKA, 22. Curtis GOOD, 23. Marco TILIO, 34. Arion SULEMANI, 35. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES.
City were made to be wary from virtually the first whistle as Patrick Wood hit the post with a powerful strike in the second minute.
That early near miss certainly made sure City were wide awake as Vidosic’s team worked their way into the game from that point.
Australia’s World Cup hero, Mathew Leckie, was involved in the 20th minute, winning a penalty after Luke Brattan was whistled for a blatant handball trying to block the cross of City’s number 7.
As he’s done so often this season – five times now to be exact – Jamie Maclaren stepped up for the spot-kick and made no mistake, unfazed by Andrew Redmayne’s wiggling antics on the goal line.
The lead was short lived though as the hosts struck back just a minute later.
Tom Glover initially made a great save to deny Paulo Retre’s point blank header, but there was little he could do about the follow up from Joe Lolley after City’s defence failed to clear the danger.
Playing in midfield for the first time since joining the club, Thomas Lam went close to opening his City account on the half hour mark.
He was found on the edge of the box by Andrew Nabbout following a blocked cross, and the Finnish international unleashed a strike that was destined for the bottom corner if not for a good save by Redmayne.
Neither side was able to create any real scoring chances for the remainder of the first 45 minutes as referee Adam Kersey blew for half time with the scoreboard locked at 1-1.
Glover was called into the action not long after the break, making a relatively comfortable save from a long range Lolley strike.
He wasn’t able to keep Adam Le Fondre out in the 61st minute though, with the substitute giving Sydney FC the lead with a header following a set piece.
The introduction of Marco Tilio six minutes later breathed life into City, the young attacker causing plenty of problems for the hosts down the right hand side.
He saw one shot blocked following a great driving run and another hit the crossbar as City searched for an equaliser.
Unfortunately for the contingent of City fans that had made the trip across the border, that equaliser would never come.
City will be need to bounce back quickly next week, with a huge Melbourne Derby at AAMI Park next up on the cards.
In what will be City’s only home Derby of the season, our undefeated and top-of-the-table Women’s squad will also be in action earlier in the evening against Western United. Click here to get your tickets!