Defensive commitment delivers derby success for City

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Melbourne City have overcome a torrid week riddled with injury and suspension to claim their first derby win in more than a year.

Last week City went down 3-1 to Adelaide United, losing new recruit Jack Hendry to a season ending medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear while fellow defender Harrison Delbridge picked up a red card and was subsequently suspended.

During the week it was also announced goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis would miss the derby for personal reasons, severely hampering the team’s back third.

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However, City was able to rise to the occasion and down their crosstown rivals 2-1 through a stout commitment to defence, which prevented Melbourne Victory’s counter-attack for most of the night.

The win marked City’s first derby win since October 2018 and also the first under coach Erick Mombaerts, who praised his team’s ability to absorb pressure and hold firm.

“We had good defensive control,” he said.

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“We have an offensive style of play but sometimes also you need to be strong defensively and today it was also this case.

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“That’s why we adapted a different game plan.

“When we lose the ball they [Victory] have fast players that play fast on the counter-attack and we didn’t want to expose us in this phase.”

If not for a goalkeeping error from reserve keeper Tom Glover, where he let the ball slip through his fingers on the goal line while defending a long-range free kick from Ola Toivonen, the team would have recorded a clean sheet.

Yet despite the side’s commitment to defence, they were still able to exhibit their attacking flair which has become a feature of their season.

Midfielder Florin Berenguer scored his first ever goal in the A-League in the eighth minute, hammering the ball into the bottom left corner following an Adrian Luna assist.

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He then provided the highlight of the evening an under pressure backheel assist to Jamie Maclaren, who angled the ball into the back of the net.

Mombaerts said he was proud of Berenguer’s commitment not only in attack but also in defence.

“I think he was very good today, especially defensively, because I asked him to concentrate on this first,” he said.

“His attitude is wonderful, he works very hard to improve.

“We changed his position, he is now more a midfielder.

“He’s more involved offensively, he also increased his aggressiveness.”

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City will face another tough challenge in their next outing, travelling across the ditch to take on the in-form Wellington Phoenix.

They will once again take to the field with a depleted defence, with Delbridge not due back for another week, meaning their ability to control the game defensively and limit the opposition’s opportunities will again be put to the test.

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City 

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