Koutroumbis and McGree represent Australia’s future. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Koutroumbis and McGree represent Australia’s future. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

Gritty City’s momentum downs Jets

Melbourne City have stayed in touch with the top three after another unglamorous, but vital 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets.

Despite overcoming an early gaffe which gifted Irishman Roy O'Donovan an early opener, City made it a lot harder than what it should have been, playing over an hour with an extra-man after Ronald Vargas' red card.

The dangerous Riley McGree and Luke Brattan scored for City, as they held off a late push from the Jets at AAMI Park.

 

Riley McGree did the business from the penalty spot. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Riley McGree did the business from the penalty spot. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

 

MAKESHIFT CONTINUITY

If not for Dario Vidosic's withdrawal in warm up (tight hip), there would have been just one change from the Round 6 team that beat the Jets - City's first game without Bruno Fornaroli.

That continuity has helped City pick up points while not necessarily producing exquisite performances, with the momentum entrenching Warren Joyce's team inside the four.

The makeshift trio figured prominently. Riley McGree, who prefers a central role but was shifted from right to left wing for Vidosic, was a constant threat and scored the equalising penalty. Playmaker Luke Brattan is relishing a more advanced role and unleashed a firecracker to put City ahead.

Lachie Wales perhaps best epitomises the Joyce-led City. Nothing too flashy as a striker, but a huge workrate and selfless link up play, with the natural winger laying the second on a platter for Brattan.

 

Roy O'Donovan open the scoring in an open goal. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Roy O'Donovan open the scoring in an open goal. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

 

BRUNO, GIVE US A WAVE

Donning sunglasses and a club suit, Fornaroli entered AAMI Park just before kick-off cutting a relaxed figure with his young family by his side.

Starting as howls upon Fornaroli's shock axing, which included a 23rd minute protest in honour of the Uruguayan's shirt number, calls for Fornaroli's return have subsided each week, no doubt aided by City's impressive run of results without him (four wins, one draw and two losses).

A crucial few weeks loom for Fornaroli's future, with the January transfer window now open and City already offloading Anthony Caceres.

CANCER COMEBACK

Soccer and sport has shown that illness does not discriminate, hence it was great to see John Koutroumbis making his second start after recovering from cancer.

Koutroumbis, who was diagnosed with stage one thyroid cancer in October, had an enthralling duel with Daniel Arzani in last year's semi-final and he had another top battle with a rising Aussie star.

Koutroumbis, who's only 20 himself, worked hard and while McGree's movement made him hard to track, his pace was on show with a superb last-ditch tackle to thwart McGree, who was about to enter the penalty box.

 

Luke Brattan takes a swing after scoring. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Luke Brattan takes a swing after scoring. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

 

ALL ROUNDERS

It is the summer of sport and Eugene Galekovic, who was a handy junior cricketer, was caught by the extra bounce produced by a firm AAMI Park deck. Without any willow to fall back on - or hands considering he was outside the penalty box - Galekovic couldn't rise high enough to head clear, leaving Irishman Roy O'Donovan with a simple tap in. Brattan produced a textbook swing for his goal celebration in honour of his professional golfing pursuits, with the corner flag mimicking the irons.

 

Vargas’ message needed no translation. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Vargas’ message needed no translation. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

 

CLEAR TRANSLATIONS

Venezuelan Vargas blew up after referee Kurt Ams awarded a penalty for handball, having vociferously appealed for one inside his attacking penalty area moments earlier.

Vargas has picked up English over his 18 months in Australia and he made sure Ams understood him clearly, with Fox Sports cameras appearing to pick him up twice swearing at the referee, which prompted the send off.

 

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News Corp Australia


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