Melbourne City lament inexperience following derby loss

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Rado Vidosic believes his side’s youth and inexperience were to blame for their disappointing fade-out loss to Melbourne Victory on Sunday afternoon.

Melbourne City came out firing in the match, bringing a high press and great intensity during the first half. They were rewarded for their effort, leading the defending champions 1-0 at half-time.

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Victory raised their level though in the second half, calling on their high-quality recent acquisitions Alex Chidiac and Lynn Williams to make the difference. The duo proved to have too much quality for City’s tiring defence, ultimately leading Victory to back-to-back wins to begin their title defence.

For City, there was a gradual drop in intensity as the game progressed.

Perhaps these kinds of performances are to be expected from what is a decidedly youthful City squad.

Five of City’s starting 11 were aged 23 or under, whilst the bench was made up exclusively of players no older than 22. Clearly, City are a side building towards the future.

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Having such a young team brings plenty of challenges at this stage of the season, a fact known all too well by City coach Vidosic

“We knew that we were going to hit the wall,” he said.

“After 60 minutes we could not run anymore. We lost our legs.”

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The demanding nature of playing in a national competition is a fresh challenge for many City players. Vidosic recognised this fact and expressed his satisfaction with the effort put forward by his side.

“Everyone gave everything they had,” he said.

“When the players are so young, it’s hard to expect too much from them so early in the season.”

Vidosic made explicit the prioritisation of youth in the Melbourne City squad this season.

“We ended up with five or six 18-year-olds on the pitch,” he said.

“We are focusing on youth. We have an eye on the next crop coming through.”

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Adding to City’s challenges is their dependence on Rebekah Stott in the midfield, a player with no shortage of experience but making an incredible comeback to professional play from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“We were heavily relying on Stotty but she couldn’t really play more than 50 minutes,” Vidosic said.

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In contrast, Victory’s squad has no shortage of international-calibre players in peak physical condition.

“When we’re so tired and then they bring on (Lynn) Williams, it’s all over from there,” City’s coach explained.

“They also have Matildas in their midfield,” Vidosic said referring to Kyra Cooney-Cross and Alex Chidiac.

“If we were in Sydney maybe we could play against some weaker teams, not against Victory,” the coach concluded.

Vidosic’s claims undoubtedly have merit. The experience gap between the two teams was palpable on the afternoon, and Victory’s ability to bring on a player with the pedigree of Lynn Williams eventually proved the difference in a tight contest.

Victory coach Jeff Hopkins couldn’t deny the advantages to having a player like Williams in his side.

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“It just shows the difference that a player of Lynn’s quality can make when we bring her on,” he said.

“She brought a calmness and confidence to the team.”

Hopkins was equally complimentary of Chidiac who started the game and saw out almost the entire match.

“For Chidiac to play as well as she did for as long as she did, coming off such little preparation, is excellent,” he said.

Ultimately, whilst Melbourne City are a team undergoing a rebuild and prioritising youth, Melbourne Victory are a team at the top of the competition vying to defend their title.

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The clubs’ differing stages of development was the decisive factor in the match. City’s side is promising, but they are not yet sufficiently battle-hardened to outlast a Victory team comprised of numerous world-class talents.

 

Feature Imaged Credit: Melbourne City FC

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Oscar Rutherford
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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