FFA Cup: Melbourne City fall at first competition

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Melbourne City’s first competitive match has ended in disappointment as Sydney FC claimed a 3-1 extra time win in the Round of 32 FFA Cup clash held at Ballarat’s Morsehead Park.

A gallant City battled hard against the Sky Blues but eventually fell to defeat thanks to two Ali Abbas penalties in the space of four minutes in the second period of extra time to send Sydney into the next round.

The two teams couldn’t be separated after the 90 minutes with Melbourne Heart foundation player Nick Kalmar equalising in the second half, cancelling out Corey Gamerio’s 22nd minute opener.

It was hardly the way the club wanted to start off life under the City moniker but glimpses of great play throughout the match will give City fans hope that their fortunes are due to change.

This first competitive match officially completed the transition from Heart to City.

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A healthy crowd of 2,801 gathered at Morsehead Park in what was a historic fixture for City.

Both sides left considerable firepower out of the side, presumably waiting for the real stuff to get started.

City were without major signings David Villa and Robert Koren while Austrian Marc Janko, Alex Brosque and Shane Smeltz failed to make it on to the team sheet for the visitors.

Former English Premier League winner Damian Duff didfeature for City but failed to fire in the cool Ballarat conditions, only showing small glimpse of what he is capable of in his 60 minutes on the field.

The first half was a relatively dull affair with both sides taking time to get into the fixture.

The clash in Ballarat was the first real hit-out for both sides with rustiness obvious from the start. The only goal of the half came through a goal-keeping error by City custodian Andrew Redmayne that resulted in Corey Gamerio’s seventh goal in five preseason games.

Redmayne ventured out of his box only for Gamerio to beat him to the ball. Gamerio got his shot under Redmayne as the ball barely had enough in it to trickle over the line.

The remaining minutes of the half conjured up little in the excitement department as both sides were more than happy to sit on possession.

The second half started off with more vigour as both sides looked to play more than they did in the first half.

The breakthrough for City came in the 64th minute when Kalmar got his head onto a perfect free kick from Aaron Mooy to level the scores.

It was fitting that Kalmar, who was been at the club for all of its humble existence, would be the one to score the opening goal in its new life under the City football badge.

Mooy was the pick of the bunch for City in this game with his passing game a standout.

The first period of extra time belonged to City but lacked that cutting edge in breaking down what was all evening a resolute Sydney defence.

With under ten minutes to go and the match destined for penalty shootouts, the game was turned on its head when referee Shaun Evans pointed to the spot after judging Jason Hoffman brought down Gamerio illegally in the box, resulting in the defenders dismissal from the match.

Abbas coolly stepped up to the spot to dispatch his penalty and all but seal his side’s progression in the competition.

The drama wasn’t to end there with Sydney awarded another penalty just minutes later, this time stand-in skipper Robbie Wielaert the culprit by bringing down Terry Antonis in the box.

Abbas was once again the man to step up and take the penalty, ending in the same result as the first.

City manager John Van’t Schip was disappointed post game to see his side ultimately get done by what he felt was a dodgy penalty decision.

“The game’s been decided after a moment that we had a good chance to score to make it 2-1 and then in the counter they made it 2-1 with the penalty.

“From what I could see, Jason hit, maybe, from behind, but the main thing was that before that it was clearly offside. That’s how football is. Mistakes are made, that’s how games get decided.”

Despite the defeat, Van’t Schip took positives out of the match as he prepares his new look side for the season ahead.

“For us it’s disappointing after having a good start and coming back into the game we dominated in the first part of the second half.

“There were some difficult moments but overall we did well. There’s a lot of positives to get out of this game.

While not the desired result for a City perspective, there was still plenty to like from the newly instated A-League glamour club.

Even though not yet fully fit, Damian Duff showed enough quality in patches to remind us all that he is in possession if an EPL winner’s medal, and that he will be a handful for defences to deal with this season, with fellow new signing Mooy producing a fine showing this evening.

Throw Villa and Koren to the mix, City will no doubt be a force this season.

With the FFA Cup now out of the picture, City’s next competitive match won’t be until 11 October when they once again face Sydney FC in the opening weekend of the A-League season.

Melbourne City: 1. Andrew Redmayne, 2. Robbie Wielaert, 6. Aaron Mooy, 7. Iain Ramsey, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 11. Damian Duff, 15. David Williams, 17. Jason Hoffman, 22. Nick Kalmar, 23. Mate Dugandzic, 24. Patrick Kisnorbo
Subs: 20. Tando Velaphi, 14. James Brown, 19. Ben Garuccio, 21. Stefan Mauk, 26. Ross Achibald

Sydney FC: 20. Vedran Janjetovic, 2. Seb Ryall, 3. Sasa Ogenovski, 5. Matt Jurman, 6. Nikola Petkovic, 7. Corey Gamerio, 11. Bernie Ibini, 12. Hagi Gligor, 17 Terry Antonis, 19. Nick Carle, 22. Ali Abbas
Subs: 1. Ivan Necevski, 4 Pedj Bojic, 13. Alex Gersbach, 16. Chris Naumoff, 18 Peter Triantis

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