John van ‘t Schip says teenage midfielder Jacob Melling can be an example to his older team-mates after helping Melbourne City FC to draw 1-1 with league leaders Perth Glory.
City were arguably the better side and might have won a tight game at AAMI Park on Friday, Aaron Mooy putting the hosts ahead only for Richard Garcia to equalise against his former club.
It was still a useful point gained for Van ‘t Schip’s men, who are now unbeaten with two wins and a draw in their last three matches.
The latest positive result was down in no small part to another energetic, courageous display from 19-year-old Melling, who belied his tender years by holding his own against physically imposing opponents.
“His way of playing is something we can use very good,” the City coach said of Melling.
“He puts the fire on and the other ones follow. That kind of character … in the midfield is important. On the ball he still needs to learn a lot, make the right decisions. We’re very happy with his progress.”
City missed several good chances to extend their lead before Glory struck and could have regained the advantage as the clock wore down, although their Dutch boss was philosophical in his post-match press conference, treating the result as a point gained rather two dropped.
“I’m not disappointed,” he said.
“Of course, you always want to win. In general we were the better team. They had a few chances. They’re a team that can score from a lot of situations and that’s what they did. (It was) disappointing to concede from a set-piece, not marking the right way.
“Pleased about the way we played, (with) discipline. It wasn’t the best game maybe to watch. But it was a step (forward)… you can feel the team is more compact, there’s more structure.
“The boys understand now that we can’t just only play and have an open kind of way (of) positioning. In the transition we have to be more like a bloc. A lot of things we have to work on. On the ball we have to get better.”
Fullback Jason Hoffman, who missed Friday’s game with a back problem, faces a battle to be fit for successive away matches against the Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners, although international marquee midfielder Robert Koren, who came off the bench for his second consecutive appearance, is nearing a first start in City colours.
With Nick Kalmar released to join Western Sydney, Van ‘t Schip confirmed City will look to strengthen during the January transfer window, although it remains to be seen if injury replacement player Liam Miller will be granted a long-term deal.