Clinical City outclass Jets to stay in the premiership hunt
Melbourne City have consolidated second spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder after seeing off a stubborn Newcastle Jets 2-0 at AAMI Park.
An early Craig Noone strike and Jamie Maclaren’s second-half penalty were enough for City as they moved to within eight points of league-leaders Sydney FC.
It wasn’t City’s most fluent performance of the campaign but they never looked in danger after Noone fired them into an eighth minute lead.
Maclaren then doubled the advantage on the hour-mark, making no mistake from the spot after referee Kate Jacewicz – the Hyundai A-League’s first female referee – and the VAR spotted a handball in the area.
The goal was not only Maclaren’s 10th in just 14 games against the Jets but it’s his 13th for the campaign taking him level with Adam Le Fondre in the race for the golden boot.
Newcastle didn’t throw in the towel and had chances to halve the deficit through Dimitri Petratos, Kaine Sheppard and Jason Hoffman.
But they were unable to find a way past Dean Bouzanis and remain on the foot of the ladder and without a win in their last seven games.
City gave new recruit Markel Susaeta a debut in the last five minutes and the Spanish international almost had an assist as Maclaren somehow headed his cross over the bar but it mattered little as City registered a well-deserved win.
Noone curls in a pearler
A clinical counter attack from City as they broke forward after clearing a Newcastle corner.
Jamie Maclaren got free down the left before cutting inside and finding Noone at the top of the box.
The Englishman touched the ball back onto his preferred left foot and curled a shot past the despairing Lewis Italiano into the bottom corner inside eight minutes.
Italiano with a full-stretch save
Just after the half-hour mark, City went the direct route with Noone’s inch-perfect lofted pass getting Maclaren in behind the Jets defence.
Maclaren opted to try his luck from distance and hit his shot sweetly but Italiano managed to dive to his right to parry the ball away for a corner.
Millar oh so close for the Jets
Newcastle’s best moment came 11 minutes before the break from a super delivery from a corner from Dimitri Petratos.
Right-back Matt Millar met the corner with a well-placed downward header but City gloveman Dean Bouzanis was able to claw it away to safety.
Maclaren converts from the spot
City were awarded a penalty when referee Kate Jacewicz – after being alerted by the VAR – adjudged Nikolai Topor-Stanley had handled after Harrison Delbridge’s header.
Maclaren wasn’t going to pass up the invitation to get on the scoresheet, dispatching his spot-kick into the bottom corner with ease.
Delbridge comes to City’s rescue
The Jets were desperate for a route back into the content and almost got it 17 minutes from time.
Bobby Burns did brilliantly down the left and his cross was meet by a well-timed shot by Dmitri Petratos which was goal-bound but for the intervention of the exceptional Harrison Delbridge.
Maclaren misses a sitter
City almost added some icing to the cake in stoppage-time as they caught the Jets out on another swift counter-attack.
The flowing move ended with new boy Susaeta picking out Maclaren at the far post but the Socceroos striker headed over with the goal gaping.
Melbourne City v Perth Glory
Saturday, 25 January 2020
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT
Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets
Friday, 24 January 2020
Kick off: 7.15pm local, 5.15pm AEDT