Melbourne City FC has played out a game of the season contender against Western United on Saturday evening, with the top of the table clash eventually ending 2-2.
Western United struck twice in the first half hour to create a strong buffer, but City showed plenty of character to hit back through Connor Metcalfe and Jamie Maclaren.
Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo decided to stick with an unchanged lineup from City’s midweek win over Macarthur.
It was a pretty even start between teams and despite an end-to-end beginning to the clash, neither side could fashion a clear scoring chance until the 14th minute.
Marco Tilio and Andrew Nabbout were both lively on the wings, and the two combined for the first chance of the game. The latter met the former’s cross and sent a shot that seemed destined for the bottom corner, before Josh Risdon slid in to make a crucial block on the goal-line.
It was a cruel, cruel way for City to go down just a minute later, as Leo Lacroix headed home from a Western corner to open scoring.
The first half began to settle into a pattern from there, as City controlled much of the possession but Western looked lethal on the counter-attack.
This was exactly how they were able to double their advantage with their second coming against the run of play on the half hour mark.
A big response was needed from City after going down 2-0 to the best defensive team in the league, and it took little over 10 minutes for it to come.
Tilio showed his class on the wing, when he slightly delayed his cross for the arriving Connor Metcalfe to finish first time with a thundering strike into the back of the net just minutes before half time.
Down but not out heading into the second half, Patrick Kisnorbo’s men continued to dominate possession and were patient in their build-up.
Western United showed why it has been so strong defensively all season as City had to work hard for its chances on goal.
City looked to have scored in the 48th after a scramble on the goal-line almost appeared to make it 2-2, but Lacroix was able to clear it off the line, Western’s second goal-line clearance of the contest.
The ‘visiting’ City side wouldn’t be held out for too long though, with a superb Jamie Maclaren finish across Jamie Young levelling scores.
The game went up another notch from there, with City pressing hard for an winner with a head full of steam after recovering from the 2-0 deficit.
Metcalfe continued another great outing and almost had his second of the night in the 63rd minute, but his powerful shot from outside the box crashed into the crossbar.
Andrew Nabbout was perhaps the closest of all to finding a winner and sealing three points, with his 71st minute sweetly-hit volley only being denied by a brilliant save.
The City boys pushed hard for that winner over the final 20 minutes but some stoic defending from Western meant the clash, fitting of a meeting between the two teams at the top of the table, would end 2-2.
They don’t get much bigger than City’s next fixture, with a huge Melbourne Derby coming up next Saturday night against Victory. Click here to get your tickets!