Michael Valkanis’ men have returned to the winners list after a Tim Cahill brace led Melbourne City to a 2-1 victory over 10-man Central Coast Mariners.

In a match completely dominated by City, where they led total shots 26 to two, the ultimate winning scoreline of 2-1 may seem underwhelming.

Nonetheless, City made amends on their 2-2 New Years’ Eve stalemate against the Mariners. In that match, City walked away with only a point thanks to an injury time Bruno Fornaroli penalty.

Tim Cahill opened the scoring for Round 16 of the A-League and got City off to the perfect start in the third minute after finishing a well rehearsed set piece taken by Luke Brattan.

In the ninth minute the home crowd was instantly silenced as City were caught completely off guard. The Mariners equalised through Roy O’Donovan, his second goals in as many games against the men in light blue.

That was where the positives ended for the away side however.

The Mariners were looking for their first win in eight weeks, but they were left severely disadvantaged when linesman and referee Daniel Elder convened to adjudicate O’Donovan’s contact on Michael Jakobsen worthy of a red card in the 23rd minute.

City had two golden opportunities in rapid succession to capitalise on having the extra man via Bruno Fornaroli and Cahill, but neither were able to hit the back of the net.

The home side looked ominous and the question was not whether they would score, but a matter of when.

Cue a string of very good chances for City and if it were not for Paul Izzo’s superb glovework, the Mariners could have been down by three goals in as many minutes.

But as if almost to put a dagger in Izzo’s heart, another fantastic cross from Brattan was seamlessly headed home by Cahill in the 39th minute for a 2-1 advantage.

Elder’s whistle ended a highly entertaining first half but not before Nicolas Colazo came awfully close to making it 3-1, but his header pounded into the woodwork. At halftime, City led 2-1.

The second half kicked off the same way the first ended, City completely on top.

Ivan Franjic got in on the action and almost scored his second goal of the season in the 53rd minute but Izzo’s oustanding performance in front of goal continued.

The rest of the match was predominantly played in City’s attacking half as the Mariners clearly felt the effects of playing with 10 men.

They lacked the same polish and finesse as City did up front and did not remotely threaten to equalise, as the final shot tally 26-2 spoke volumes of the home side’s ascendancy.

The final score line flattered the Mariners as the men in light blue squandered several chances to extend their lead. The biggest rue came in the 72nd minute when Fernando Brandan fluffed a header from less than six yards after a pinpoint cross from Colazo.

After three minutes of stoppage time, City had earned a 2-1 victory.

Ultimately, it was a match that Valkanis’ men would be pleased with, however, disappointed they could not capitalise on their significant domination.

Melbourne City 2 (Cahill 3’, 39’)
Central Coast Mariners 1 (O’Donovan 9’)

Stadium: AAMI Park
Crowd: 8,784

Referee: Daniel Elder
Assistant Referees: George Lakrindis & Luke Brennan
Fourth Official: Jonathan Barreiro

Melbourne City: 20. BOUZANIS Dean (GK), 3. ROSE Joshua, 5. FRANJIC Ivan, 6. MALIK Osama, 8. KILKENNY Neil, 9. COLAZO Nicolas (10. CACERES Anthony 84’), 11. KAMAU Bruce (27. BRANDAN Fernando 67’), 17. CAHILL Tim (12. FITZGERALD Nick 78’), 22. JAKOBSEN Michael, 23. FORNAROLI Bruno (C), 26. BRATTAN Luke
Substitutes: 1. SORENSEN Thomas (GK), 10. CACERES Anthony, 12. FITZGERALD Nick. 21. TONGYIK Ruon, 27. BRANDAN Fernando

Central Coast Mariners: 20. IZZO Paul (GK), 2. ROUX Storm, 3. GALLOWAY Scott (21. NEILL Michael 83’), 5. ASCROFT Harry, 6. POWELL Blake (13. APPIAH-KUBI Kwabena 70’), 7. FERREIRA Fabio (12. BUHAGIAR Trent 62’), 8. MONTGOMERY Nick, 9. O’DONOVAN Roy, 11. PAIN Connor, 16. ROSE Liam, 22. McGING Jake
Substitutes: 1. NECEVSKI Ivan (GK), 12. BUHAGIAR Trent, 13. APPIAH-KUBI Kwabena, 14. BERRY Adam, 21. NEILL Michael

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A-Grade football fan, C-grade player