GRITTY ESCAPE Depleted City outfit holds Roar to a whimper
THE LINE-UPS CARDS DAVUTOVIC’S MAN OF MATCH
FOR a Melbourne City side that has lost its way since winning the FFA Cup, last night could be a tide-turning performance.
A win against third-placed Brisbane Roar was always going to be tough, but under the circumstances, minus nine first-team players, it was going to be heroic.
Down 2-0, fielding 16-yearold Dylan Pierias on debut, fellow teen Denis Genreau making his first start and a host of fringe players in the XI, they rolled their sleeves up.
In the end they could only draw 2-2, but you could have mistaken it for a win, such was the response from the bulk of the 8414 AAMI Park fans at the final whistle. Exciting Bruce Kamau and Argentine marquee player Nicolas Colazo cancelled out Jamie Maclaren’s brace, but the headline acts were keeper Thomas Sorensen and City’s second stringers.
Keilor product Pierias, the first millennial player to feature in the A-League, was rewarded for stellar youth team form this season by replacing Ivan Franjic (knee) at right back.
He and Danish defender Michael Jakobsen (calf) joined seven suspension casualties after last week’s derby.
Nevertheless, City started impressively. The most popular of the eight inclusions was Sorensen — 24 years Pierias’ elder — and the Dane’s first touch was accompanied by a huge cheer in his first home appearance this season, replacing the suspended Dean Bouzanis.
Sorensen sent scares through the terraces when racing 25m off his line to clear from Brisbane striker Brandon Borrello, in scenes reminiscent of the round 1 send-off at Wellington that cost him his No.1 shirt.
Thereafter he was flawless, as his poise and towering presence proved a calming influence on the kids. However, Sorensen was still made to pick the ball from his net, with poor refereeing decisions prior to both Brisbane goals contributing, but so too did dodgy defending.
Referee Alan Milliner whistled for a soft foul against Genreau in the middle of the park before a woeful penalty call moments later when Josh Rose made slight contact with Borrello on 33 minutes.
Jamie Maclaren stepped up to slam the ball home.
Moments before the break, Milliner missed a clear foul on City winger Bruce Kamau before Roar made a final surge.
Midfielder-cum-defender Neil Kilkenny got sucked out of position and Arana slipped him too easily before feeding Maclaren who just stayed onside to net a second.
Egged on by a boisterous crowd, City probed in the second half and overran a Brisbane side fatigued after Wednesday’s epic Champions League win over Shanghai Shenhua.
Kamau breathed life into the contest with a 58th-minute left-foot strike that was aided by a deflection and a clever Anthony Caceres backheel.
Sorensen stood tall seconds later, thwarting a Maclaren hat-trick.
Milliner then squared the ledger by handing City a soft penalty when debutant Dane Ingham touched Nick Fitzgerald.
Colazo, who gallantly toiled in his unfamiliar role up front, stepped up to score just three minutes after Kamau, and the momentum was with City.
Inexperience perhaps told as they failed to capitalise, with Sorensen again called in to thwart Maclaren, before Fitzgerald forced a top save from Michael Theo.
The game then fizzled out as a City side minus Bruno Fornaroli and Tim Cahill lacked the natural instinct to go for the kill. firstname.lastname@example.org certain