In crisp conditions at CFA Melbourne, Melbourne City FC suffered their first loss of the pre-season, going down 2-1 to Western United at CFA Melbourne on Tuesday afternoon.
The opening chance of the encounter came inside the first two minutes when Josh Risdon blazed his effort over the crossbar after finding himself in time and space within the 18-yard box.
City responded to the early threat with a chance of their own less than 60 seconds later. A well-worked combination between Ramy Najjarine and Scott Galloway resulted in the latter crossing the ball to Florin Berenguer, whose header was glanced just over the bar. Craig Noone whipped in a dangerous ball moments later, although his effort was well dealt with by Western United’s defence.
In the seventh minute Scott McDonald was played through one-on-one with Dean Bouzanis, but the striker’s effort was fired well clear of City’s defensive goal.
As the first half progressed chances began to dry up, with neither side looking to give the opposition too much time in the attacking third. That was until Western United broke the deadlock following an unfortunate error at the back. Bouzanis played the ball out to central defender Harrison Delbridge, whose firm return pass to the goalkeeper beat his teammate, resulting in a horror own goal which would see Western United take a 1-0 lead into the break.
City hit back immediately after the interval when youngsters Moudi Najjar and Ramy Najjarine combined. Played through into the area by Javier Cabrera, Najjar showed great composure to find Najjarine at the back post, who tapped the ball home from point blank range within two minutes of the second period.
With the scores now level, City continued to press in search of breaking the deadlock. Gianluca Iannucci picked up the ball on the left wing before finding Najjarine on the edge of the area, the youngster cushioned the ball with a neat touch before Luna’s cross was well cleared.
Despite City’s efforts, Western United restored their lead through Yuel, as Bouzanis’ initial save resulted in a goal mouth scramble that was dispatched with a poacher’s effort by Western United’s attacker.
Iannucci’s lively inclusion continued with the attacker pinching the ball in midfield before playing Najjar through one-on-one, despite the striker’s best efforts Kurto’s oncoming pressure was enough to force his effort wide.
Najjar continued to work hard in the attacking third, this time earning his team a free kick after he was clattered into by an oncoming Kurto. Adrian Luna stepped over the dead ball, finding Delbridge with a perfectly weighted cross whose towering header drifted just wide.
With 60 seconds to play, City had a golden opportunity to find an equaliser as Luna combined with Javier Cabrera, before the latter found Stefan Colakovski at the back post. Colakovski’s well-timed run was undone by a timid header which was easily dealt with.
Melbourne City – 1 (Ramy Najjarine 47′)
Western United – 2 (Harrison Delbridge OG 30′, Valentino Yuel 58′)
Starting XI: Bouzanis, Galloway, Delbridge, Good, Jamieson, Brillante, Berenguer, Noone, Luna, Najjar, Najjarine
Second XI: Bouzanis, Galloway, Delbridge, Good, Jamieson, Brillante, Luna, Iannucci, Najjarine, Cabrera, Najjar