GRITTY ES­CAPE De­pleted City out­fit holds Roar to a whim­per

Sunday Herald Sun - - Soccer - DAVID DAVUTOVIC

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. david.davutovic@news.com.au cer­tain

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