Defensive changes deliver goals for City

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Following a week of turmoil losing defenders to injury and suspension, Melbourne City coach Erick Mombaerts praised his team’s new defensive combination.  

Before their 3-2 victory over Wellington Phoniex, they lost central defender Harrison Delbridge last week to suspension and on Tuesday his likely replacement Richard Windbichler suffered a hamstring injury.

Enter Josh Brillante. The offseason recruit from Sydney FC was pushed into defence with only a handful of training sessions to prepare during the week and played superbly to earn himself man of the match honours.

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After the game, Mombaerts was full of praise for the midfielder turned defender.

“Thank you to Josh, because it’s not easy (with) only three or four training sessions to adapt,” he said.

“We know that in our style we expect that our defensive midfielder can do the job also as the central defender and he did a fantastic job.”

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Mombaerts was particularly impressed with the defender’s speed, as he was fast enough to get back and defend long kicks when the team had pressed forward.

“It’s better for us to have a fast central defender, that’s why I chose this solution,” he said.

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Defender Scott Galloway hailed the performance of the team in light of their defensive absences.

“I thought everyone stepped up and played a really good game,” he said.

“Obviously we conceded two goals which we don’t want, but Josh came in and did a job at centre back and was fantastic.

“He’s next to me helping me out a lot.”

The help came in the form of allowing Galloway to push forward and create scoring opportunities.

Mombaerts believes this is crucial, given that sharpshooter Jamie Maclaren will be sidelined with a hamstring injury for the next few weeks.

“We need to find other solutions to score goals because Jamie is injured,” he said.

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“As we stretch their defensive block, we have (the) opportunity to drive inside. Scotty and Jamo did very well on this job.

“It’s important that our fullbacks can score.”

In the 34th minute, Galloway booted his first goal in City colours with a stunning long strike which ricocheted off the right post into the back of the net.

“It’s something I know that I have in my locker and its something I would like to obviously do a lot more,” Galloway said.

“First and foremost it’s defending for me, but if I can provide an assist and a goal in a game, I’ll look to do that

“I love to get forward as a fullback that was my chance and I took it.”

City’s defence will be bolstered this week with Delbridge to return from suspension.

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Michael Patane
Student at Monash University and lover of all things football covering Melbourne City in 2019/20.