Melbourne City have extended their lead at the top of the A-League table with a fairly routine 1-0 victory at home in suffocating heat at AAMI Park.
Jamie Maclaren was the hero once again as he netted his 10th goal of the season as his side proved that they have not slowed down since the departure of manager Patrick Kisnorbo to ESTAC Troyes. They continue to set a high bar for performances in this league as they were really challenged by a strong Mariners outfit who came into this match brimming with confidence after two successive victories.
The match began with City on the front foot as they maintained control of the ball and consigned the Mariners to sprinting without the ball in the sweltering Melbourne heat which reached close to 40°C. The home side took it upon themselves to pull apart the Mariners’ compact 4-4-2 block but often struggled to involve their creative players Valon Berisha and Marco Tilio.
Despite this, City found joy in attacking down their left hand-side as Socceroo duo Mathew Leckie and Jamie Maclaren picked up where they left off before the World Cup. In the 14th minute, the latter was denied at the front post by some swift reflexes from Danny Vuković after Leckie played an inch perfect nutmegged through pass in behind Central Coast’s last line.
Nick Montgomery’s side struggled to impose themselves on proceedings as they were forced to rely on sporadic half-chances in transition, such was City’s dominance. The home side were rewarded for their sterling start with a well-worked goal in the 39th minute.
Young left-back Jordan Bos played the ball forward towards Dutch import van der Venne who slashed a ball across the six yard box from the left hand-side – the type of ball that poacher Maclaren feasts on. The Socceroo made no mistake with an open goal in sight as he sidefooted the ball beyond the helpless goalkeeper.
City threatened to compile the Mariners’ misery on the stroke of half-time as van der Venne was brought down inside the box. However, despite normally being safe from the penalty spot, Maclaren was denied by the outstretched right hand of Vuković to ensure that the Mariners entered the second half 1-0 down and with a chance to rescue the game.
As the game began to slow down, the Mariners sought to hit City with a sucker punch as cult hero Jason Cummings started to see more of the ball. Robust full-back Jacob Farrell dealt well with Tilio and Andrew Nabbout while he also looked to burst quickly in attack as City grew more and more tired.
Ultimately however, City were too strong in the end and emerged from AAMI Park as deserved victors.
JORDAN BOS CONTINUES TO STAR
At the age of just 20 years old, Jordan Bos is beginning to stamp his authority on the A-League. After impressing in Melbourne City’s Asian Champions League campaign, Bos has gradually been granted more scope and responsibility in this strong side and now appears to have dethroned club captain Scott Jamieson for the side’s starting left-back slot.
The physical defender was unfazed against Sam Silvera and he continues to impress week after week. Bos is unique in the sense that he pairs his physicality with a sound understanding of the game as well as confidence to beat a man and good technical ability. It cannot be too long before he features in a Socceroos squad.
FANS STAY HOME AMID SWELTERING HEAT
As temperatures soared towards 40°C during the match, it became clear that the players were quickly tiring. The ball speed and tempo of the match dissipated as it went on despite the coaches having the luxury of being able to use five substitutions.
Drinks breaks were scheduled every 15 minutes, but the paltry crowd inside AAMI Park (albeit affected by recent Football Australia sanctions) probably reflects the general apathy from fans towards playing football matches in the middle of Australian summer.
CITY BOUNCE BACK
After the Melbourne Derby was abandoned due to player safety, this was City’s first match in 17 days and just their second since manager Patrick Kisnorbo departed foe Ligue 1 side ESTAC Troyes. Despite losing their first match under interim boss Radio Vidošić, there were no signs of persisting issues in Kisnorbo’s absence as they remained largely untroubled against an in-form Mariners outfit.
Central Coast had won their last two matches and appeared primed to challenge City for the three points. However, City’s all-round quality shone as Aiden O’Neill and Mathew Leckie led their side to the victory to take them four points clear of Western Sydney Wanderers at the top of the A-League table with a game in hand.
Melbourne City 1 (Maclaren 39′)
Central Coast Mariners 0
Image Sourced – Melbourne City