Contrasting mindsets prove decisive in City’s win over Wanderers

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Melbourne City’s willingness to accept and overcome the challenges within a season are what sets them apart from teams like Western Sydney Wanderers.

City’s 2-1 victory was yet another case of a tight, hard-fought win, and such results have become commonplace at City in recent weeks.

A stretch of games on the road against high quality opposition, combined with the loss of star forward Holly McNamara, ensured that the last few weeks have comfortably been City’s toughest of the season.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Rado Vidosic’s team have continued to pick up wins, having only lost once in their last seven games.

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Sunday afternoon saw City return to play in Melbourne for just the second time this year, alongside the return of McNamara to the squad.

City once again showcased their steely mentality as they held off the Wanderers’ challenge to secure all three points.

Vidosic identified the strength of his squad’s mindset post-game as one of the key factors in their success up to this point of the season.

“The mental side of the game is probably the most important,” he said.

“Technically, there’s not much of a difference between the sides.

“The question is how hard are you prepared to run? How high are you prepared to jump? How frequently are you willing to make that effort?”

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The experienced coach’s emphasis on mental strength has reaped rewards in his side’s results this season.

Recent weeks have seen City hang on to wins when not playing their best, endure strong periods from opponents whilst staying in the game, and fight back late to secure unlikely victories.

City were also assisted by the returning McNamara, who Vidosic identified as playing a key role in the win.

“She’s been fantastic,” he said.

“I’m proud of what she has done and how she has contributed to the team.”

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City’s mentality will again be required to stand up to extreme pressure in the coming weeks.

Vidosic is expecting to lose both Rebekah Stott and Hannah Wilkinson for at least the side’s next two games as they fulfil international obligations with New Zealand.

“We’ll just have to wait and see how they are from a fitness point of view when they return,” he said.

“I spoke to the New Zealand national team coach, and she promised that she is going to look after them.”

Losing such integral players from the spine of City’s team will cause further headaches for Vidosic.

Particularly going forward, losing Stott’s transition play and Wilkinson’s goals will present a major challenge to the rest of the squad.

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Nonetheless, Vidosic remained confident that the resilience his team have demonstrated over recent weeks will continue to help them through these difficult periods.

In contrast, Wanderers coach Catherine Cannuli lamented her team’s misfortune in yet another tight defeat.

Her side once again failed to offer an adequate goal threat, but Cannuli believed misfortune continued to undermine her team’s best efforts.

“I think it’s just the bounce of the ball sometimes,” she said.

“We just find that those little things, those key moments in the game, they don’t fall for us.

“I don’t think you can fault the team’s effort or determination. You can see in every game that they go out fighting hard and wanting to win.”

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In terms of goal threat, the Wanderers coach called for more experienced heads to assist her young team to navigate the challenges of a tough domestic season.

Still, Cannuli was remaining focused on the players within her squad and getting the best out of them.

“There’s no hiding behind it. We need more senior players who have played in this league for a long time,” she said.

“The most important thing is that we don’t drop the ball.

“We want to continue to grow in this competition, which will bring confidence.”

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Cannuli also praised goal scorer Teigan Collister and young forward Bryleeh Henry for their continued development.

Of course, City and Wanderers are hardly facing the same challenges this season.

Whilst Vidosic is an experienced coach who has been given plenty of scope to build his desired squad, Cannuli is in her first season as a head coach at the perennially unstable ship in Western Sydney.

Cannuli clearly understands the deeper challenges at the Wanderers and was remaining focused on the bigger picture.

“The growth in the team has been huge. Every week we’re adding new tools to our toolbox,” she said.

“Now it’s just about executing and getting a bit of confidence into the girls. I think that’s the toughest part.”

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There are already signs of a changing culture and mindset at Wanderers with which Cannuli must be credited.

The team’s ability to seamlessly adjust to the loss of Clare Hunt, a key defensive figure this season, was admirable against City.

“Any coach wants depth in their squad,” Cannuli said.

“You don’t want any player to feel safe with their spot.”

Perhaps there are signs of improvement at Wanderers.

For now though, City’s squad mentality is clearly superior to that of most other teams in the competition.

Such an attribute allows them to better cope with challenging circumstances throughout the season, as seen in Sunday’s victory.

Feature Image 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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