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Melbourne City have strengthened their hold on a finals spot with a dominant 4-1 win over the Brisbane Roar on Friday night.
Melbourne City 4
Brisbane Roar 1
Melbourne City and their beleaguered coach Warren Joyce will be desperate to hang on to sixth spot in Round 24 of the A-League when they take on Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park at 7:50pm (AEDT). Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match.
City was pounded 3-0 by eighth placed Wanderers last week in a humiliating performance. City’s form line in 2019 has been woeful (other than the bright spot of a 2-0 win in Sydney a fortnight ago), as the A-League’s ‘Tinkerer’ Joyce continues to try and work out his best XI and formation.
Having Jamie Maclaren absent last week didn’t help matters for City – Maclaren looms to return against the Roar – but even with Maclaren City is a team constantly performing below expectation.
Tottenham Hotspur loanee Shayon Harrison hasn’t yet found his feet at this level, and Joyce’s other playmaker, Olyroo Riley McGree, still seems frozen out by Joyce’s plans despite returning from International duty.
City’s lack of conversion upfront is further evidence of their lack of spark, and the lack of trust Warren Joyce seems to have for his more dynamic players.
They’ve scored the second fewest goals this season (28), just behind the Mariners, despite sitting mid-table for overall shots (seventh).
City’s lack of firepower this season only serves to bewilder fans and neutrals about Joyce’s management style with now departed marquee striker Bruno Fornaroli; but that’s now water under the Swan St bridge.
The Roar is also undergoing a transformation of sorts, but unlike City’s constant revolution, their transformation started from John Aloisi’s departure in late December.
Since that time striker Adam Taggart has left for South Korea (he’s still 5th in the golden boot race despite not playing A-League for two months) and in has come Dylan Wenzel-Halls and Eli Babalj. On paper they seem a dynamic and complementary duo, but on the park they haven’t quite clicked yet.
Behind them sits Brisbane’s Dad’s Army of midfielders – McKay, Lopez, Henrique and Bautheac – and their young and largely makeshift back four where Daniel Leck and Ruon Tongyik have both come in and made a solid start to their Brisbane careers.
Whether Brisbane can get a result in this game depends on that chemistry that has simmered in some games and been completely absent in others.
Brisbane was solid and disappointed to lose so markedly last week against Sydney (3-1), but they are clearly a work in progress.
Temporary manger Darren Davis has done a fairly decent job, in particular in the January window. And if the Roar can get a result against City, it will add a little more to his chances of landing the job permanently.
City continues to limp into the finals, and although they’re at home they are eminently gettable in this game.
The Roar are a wildcard so far this season, and if Wenzel-Halls and Babalj –playing sort-of against his old club – choose this week to click, they will threaten City’s at-times suspect defence.
An upset might be too unlikely to back, but City could certainly ship goals in this one.
Melbourne City 1 – Brisbane Roar 1