Melbourne City’s FFA Cup display justified their status as A-League Men favourites

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Melbourne City exuded class and championship-winning qualities in their win over South Melbourne in the FFA Cup. The match proved that Patrick Kisnorbo has his side primed to take the domestic season by storm.

On its face, Friday night’s clash with NPL powerhouses South Melbourne could easily have been a stumbling block for the reigning A-League Men’s champions.

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They were playing their first competitive match since defeating Sydney FC to win the A-League Men’s title back in June. Further, they were coming up against a side who themselves were a largely unknown quantity, having not played competitively since the end of July.

City head coach Patrick Kisnorbo faced the fresh challenge of preparing and motivating his players to start all over again, having led them to the top of the mountain just a few months earlier.

The devastating attacking line-up assembled by City consisting of Jamie Maclaren, Matthew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout were all unavailable due to Socceroos commitments.

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Maybe City would be caught cold by a revved up South Melbourne team in front of a hostile Lakeside crowd? Could Kisnorbo have taken his foot off the pedal over the offseason? Would the team be able to continue covering for the absences of key players?

By the end of the night, all of these doubts had been resoundingly quashed by a dominant City display.

City’s performance was in keeping with that of a well-drilled, motivated, championship-winning team. City asserted themselves at the very start of the game, took the lead, and saw off any attempted fightback. They managed the game expertly, and even during South Melbourne’s strongest periods, the result never seemed particularly in doubt.

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Kisnorbo was evidently satisfied with his side’s performance post game.

“I think it was professional, we created some good chances. I think we controlled the game really well,” he said.

“Credit to our players, you know, they dug deep. I was just happy with the way the boys defended.”

Of course, it would be untrue to say that City’s performance had been perfect. Despite all of their possession in South Melbourne’s half for the first 45, City failed to translate these into enough clear goalscoring chances. They lost some of their control in the early part of the second half too, as Tom Glover was called upon to deny the resurgent home side.

Nonetheless, City did exactly what they needed to do to secure a relatively comfortable win. They got what they wanted from the contest.

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“It was about the minutes today and getting through pretty much unscathed” Kisnorbo said.

The depth and variety of City’s squad was also on full display. Despite missing their big-name front three, City still found multiple avenues to goal. Nathaniel Atkinson and Scott Galloway combined to devastating effect throughout the night, whilst Connor Metcalfe found himself in dangerous positions on several occasions, including for the game’s opening goal.

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Kisnorbo was quick to point out the importance of the whole-team effort rather than any individual brilliance in creating scoring opportunities.

“It was the collective that got the ball into that area, and I’m happy with that,” he said.

City’s display of excellent quality, game-managements skills and squad depth are all ominous signs for the remainder of the competition. It appears something special will be required to dethrone the champions.

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Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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