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Mooy, Melling fire City to fifth win

Melbourne City consigned the Western Sydney Wanderers to a 2-1 loss on Sunday night, as the Asian champions remain winless after 13 games in the 2014/15 A-League season.

On a cool evening in Melbourne, goals to Jacob Melling and Aaron Mooy sealed the victory for City, as the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium reverted back to its familiar moniker of AAMI Park, following a successful stint hosting an array of Asian Cup fixtures.

Melbourne City would’ve come into the contest full of confidence, riding on a three-game unbeaten stretch at the friendly confines of AAMI Park. Adding to that, as the calendar flipped over to February, the Wanderers were still looking for their first win of the season after their first 12 games had ended in relative disappointment, particularly given their successes in Asia.

While newcomers Jack Clisby and Safuwan Baharudin were both included in the squad, it was Josh Kennedy who was the noticeable absentee for Melbourne City. Despite hopes the former Socceroo would be fit to take the field for his first A-League game, John van’t Schip instead went into the game with a forward structure spearheaded by internationals Damien Duff and Robert Koren.

Clisby would be required for an early-than-expected introduction, when Ben Garuccio went down with an ankle injury ten minutes before the half time break.

The Wanderers, meanwhile, would unveil three of their January signings, with the Japanese pair of Yusuke Tanaka and Yojiro Takahagi starting in defence and midfield respectively, while Sam Gallaway slotted in down back after his move to Western Sydney from the troubled Newcastle Jets. Pleasingly for coach Tony Popovic, striker Brendon Santalab returned to the starting XI after roughly three months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.

It would be one of those new signings, though, that would have an almost immediate impact for the visitors. A free kick from just inside the left sideline was whipped in across the face of goal by Takahagi, with a collection of players unable to get a touch on it as it drifted in at the far post past a stranded Andrew Redmayne. Takahagi almost upstaged the goal itself with his creative ‘sumo’ celebration delighting the travelling Wanderers fans.

Aside from the goal, City controlled the majority of the opening twenty minutes. Duff almost had the ball put to him on a silver platter by Koren in the 12th minute, if not for the timely intervention of Gallaway, who slid in to clear the ball away.

With City looking more menacing, it was only a matter of time before they found their way back into the game. In the 24th minute, and with his back to goal, Koren found some space outside the area before sliding the ball through for the onrushing Aaron Mooy. Mooy’s dinked cross to the near post was inch perfect, as it found the head of youngster Jacob Melling, who headed home the equaliser — and his first ever A-League goal — emphatically.

From that point on in the first half, it was all Melbourne City.

Koren continued to cause headaches for the Wanderers defence, forcing Covic into a good save to his right in the 26th minute, after the Slovenian cleverly let the ball run across his body so he could fire with his powerful right boot. Minutes later, and City skipper Patrick Kisnorbo would go close, but a poor first touch in the box let him down, allowing Nikolai Topor-Stanley to clear.

New signing Connor Chapman had a golden opportunity to give City the lead just before the break. With Melbourne’s 10th corner of the half, Mooy’s ball was flicked over the pack of players in the box, allowing Duff to gather in space and whip a wicked ball back into the crowded penalty area. Chapman, also searching for his maiden A-League goal, fired in a powerful header, but it flew narrowly wide of the far post.

It was more of the same immediately after the break, as the home side looked for a second goal. In the 47th minute, and from City’s 11th corner, Covic could only clear to the top of the box and to the feet of Iain Ramsay, whose ferocious shot forced the Wanderers ‘keeper into a reflex save to his right.

City went close again in the 58th minute, after some superb work by Melling to win the ball back in midfield. Duff found space on the right flank and cut back to Koren in the box, who turned and looked inside before firing towards the far post. With Covic beaten, it would require the headed intervention of Tanaka to deny the marquee man his 4th goal of the season.

Melbourne should’ve taken the lead in the 68th minute, if not for a howler of a miss by Iain Ramsay. David Williams gathered on the run from a perfectly timed long ball, and had options at his disposal in the penalty area. Cutting inside, Williams spotted Ramsay unmarked at the far post, and with an empty net at his mercy, the pacy winger inexplicably put the ball wide of the post.

It wouldn’t matter, though, as Aaron Mooy gave City the lead just 5 minutes later with a cracking strike from the edge of the area. Williams gathered on the right before slotting Jason Hoffman, who looked back to find Mooy at the top of the box. The former Wanderers midfielder made no mistake, as his curling effort nestled into the corner past the outstretched gloves of Ante Covic.

Koren, Mooy and Melling would all have half chances in the final 10 minutes, as City smothered the Wanderers, denying them every opportunity to control possession.

 

Ultimate A-League ‘Player of the Year’ Votes
3 Aaron Mooy (Melbourne City)
2 Jacob Melling (Melbourne City)
1 Connor Chapman (Melbourne City)
Youth Jacob Melling (Melbourne City)

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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