Melbourne City FC suffered a 1-0 defeat against Western United on Saturday night, undone by a sole Steven Lustica goal in the 71st minute.
It was a second week of forced wholesale changes for Patrick Kisnorbo, who went without Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren, Connor Metcalfe and Marco Tilio as the quartet were away on Socceroos duties. Additionally, Andrew Nabbout was a late out as he failed to prove his fitness following a minor niggle sustained midweek. To cover these absences, youngsters Jordan Bos, Stefan Colakovski and Taras Gomulka were named in the XI, whilst Carl Jenkinson made a first start for City as he lined up at right-back and Scott Galloway shifted further afield. Rostyn Griffiths also made a return to the starting lineup.
Tom Glover was called into action twice early, first making an important save to deny Alessandro Diamanti in the 6th minute. The Italian made an intelligent run into the box to meet a cross in from the left and volleyed across his body to force a sharp save from the City gloveman at his near post.
Just two minutes later, Glover made arguably an even better save to deny Lachlan Wales, who had been found at the back post unmarked and had time to volley at goal, but was kept out by a strong right hand from City’s #1.
City would return serve soon after, with Bos creating a brilliant opportunity for Florin Berenguer in the 13th. The youngster was able to break into space wide and cut a ball back to the edge of the six-yard box for the Frenchman, who aimed for the bottom right corner but was denied by a good diving save from Jamie Young.
Though there weren’t many significant chances over the next 20 minutes, United’s English keeper came up big for his side when he was next called into action, pulling off the save of the match to that point. In the 40th minute, he needed to get quickly down to his right to palm away Scott Jamieson’s driven effort that was bound for the bottom corner.
City came even closer on the stroke of half-time, with Griffiths flicking his header onto the crossbar from a corner-kick.
City started the second period brightly and had a huge opportunity in the 52nd minute, with Berenguer smashing the ball at Young from a narrow angle inside the area. The United keeper did well to reflexively raise his hand and force it over the bar for a corner.
Already an eventful contest to that point, fans then saw an incredible five-minute period in front of Glover’s goal with all kinds of highlights, unfortunately ending with a United goal in the 71st minute. The City #1 first pulled off a brilliant reflex save to deny Dylan Pierias from close range, but topped the seemingly untoppable just minutes later when United were awarded a penalty-kick for a handball that was spotted upon VAR review. Diamanti stepped up to take it and rifled it towards the right side of the net, but Glover dived acrobatically to tip the ball outside the post at full stretch. Unfortunately, his heroics would be all for nought, with Steven Lustica finding the back of the net following an attacking move that arrived not long after the penalty save.
Glover’s incredible performance between the sticks continued after the goal, denying United on several occasions over the remainder of the game, but his heroics in goal could unfortunately bring City no closer to finding an equaliser, with the final scoreline remaining 1-0 to the home side.
Whilst only City’s second loss of the season, the result could be a costly one as neighbouring teams on the Izuzu UTE A-League table make up their games in hand. Emphasis will now be placed on City’s next game in the competition, set to be Perth Glory at AAMI Park as part of a club double-header next Sunday afternoon.