Melbourne City capped off its July pre-season friendlies with a second win as it defeated Bentleigh Greens on Tuesday night.
Nick Fitzgerald’s late brace separated the sides on the night as the tight contest showcased both sides’ preparations for the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32.
Warren Joyce made three changes to the side that took on Oakleigh last Tuesday as the Head Coach continues to tinker with his side ahead of the side’s first competitive match.
Eugene Galekovic replaced Dean Bouzanis in goal while Michael Jakobsen sat the match out, being replaced by the returning Ruon Tongyik from Australian Under 23 camp. Ramy Najjarine also received his first call-up to the senior side after signing with the Club, replacing Anthony Caceres in the final third.
A chilly Kingston Heath greeted the sides as a thunderstorm struck Melbourne, dampening the usually quick surface in Melbourne’s south-east.
The visitors knew the Greens were going to be a tougher task from the get-go with their fellow FFA Cup opponents looking to impress ahead of their clash with Hume City.
Both sides looked dangerous going forward and it was City who looked the more promising in the opening ten minutes however the Greens’ first chance was their best chance of the match.
Former Newcastle Jet Andy Brennan broke with speed on the right wing, cutting back in behind the City defence with Jordan Thurtell only having the goal at his peril. The striker sprayed his effort high and wide which was uncharacteristic from one of the NPL’s top strikers.
The shockwave put City into gear as Fitzgerald blazed over the bar from the edge of the area and Bruno Fornaroli saw his free kick rocket into the wall from close range, seeing the visitors create chances.
Bentleigh would have another avenue on goal after 36 minutes when Brennan cut through the lines and found himself one-on-one with Galekovic in the penalty area. The keeper smothered the shot from close range as the follow up bounced into Luke Brattan and then into Galekovic’s thankful hands.
With the Greens making several changes at the break, City took control of the contest as Fitzgerald looked the likeliest to find the breakthrough.
It finally came for Fitzgerald and City after 86 minutes as a pinpoint through ball from the midfield found the winger’s feet, poking home to open the scoring.
His second finish on the stroke of full time had much more finesse as a forward break saw him prop and find the top corner to round out the result for City.
Our title defence in the Westfield FFA Cup begins next week as we take on Peninsula Power in the Round of 32 at Dolphin Stadium. City travel to Brisbane next Tuesday as they begin their cup journey once again in the Club’s first competitive match of the 2017/18 season.
Kick-off is 7.30pm with the match on Fox Sports on Demand and the Apple TV Fox Sports App.