‘Long time coming’ – Maclaren insists uncaged City showed their hunger

Jamie Maclaren believes adversity is making Melbourne City stronger after they finally returned from lockdown with a bang against Sydney FC.

Craig Noone’s opener and Maclaren’s 19th strike of the campaign headlined a dominant 2-0 triumph against the newly-confirmed Hyundai A-League Premiers, Sydney FC, on City’s return to action following 131 days on the sidelines.

City were the final team to run back out on a football pitch, some 15 days after the Sky Blues, following their relocation from Victoria to New South Wales and then a 14-day quarantine period as a precaution against covid-19. 

And Maclaren revealed that every experience his teammates have endured over the past five months contributed to their statement performance against the runaway ladder-leaders at ANZ Stadium.

“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve waiting so long. We’re the last team to play,” Maclaren said. “It’s been a bit of a challenge but I guess that’s made us a bit stronger.

“We’re away from our families, we’re away from the people that we love. We’re not going to come here and just roll over. We want to come here and make it worth it.

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“We showed in the first half and the second half how hungry we are. 

“We’re the last team to play and we just couldn’t wait to get out there.”

The competition's second-placed side proved their Championship credentials in a commanding first-half display which saw Sky Blues goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne make six saves to keep the scores level going into the interval on Saturday night.

Maclaren saw a couple of chances to surge ahead in the Golden Boot standing pass him by, but he finally struck after stealing the ball away form Ryan McGowan and finishing past fellow Socceroo Redmayne.

“There’s still a chance to win the Championship and that’s what we’re pushing for,” Maclaren said.

“We here to mean business. Tonight we played against the Premiers, and huge congratulations to them, they were the best side all season.

“To beat them quite comfortably was emphatic by us.”

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Highlights: Melbourne City 2-0 Sydney FC

And the turmoil in the Maclaren household extends beyond the football pitch, with the 27-year-old admitting his own wedding plans have been put on hold while so much uncertainly surrounds the global pandemic.

City's star striker dedicated the result to those back in his home state of Victoria in the hope it brought a moment of positivity while the state aims to contain the coronavirus.  

“It’s a tough period, not only for our fans in Victoria, but to everyone in that state,” Maclaren added.

“Being a proud Melbourne boy, it’s obviously devastating. 

“I just wish everyone well and, to our fans out there, I hope we put a few smiles on faces tonight.”

Sydney FC captain Alex Wilkinson was disappointed to not be able to celebrate his record-breaking fifth Hyundai A-League Premiership medal with a more competitive performance.

“I thought we were pretty average to be honest,” Wilkinson said. “We didn’t keep the ball well enough, we weren’t sharp enough. 

“We were a little bit off and, when that happens, you get punished by a quality team.”

Next match

  • Adelaide United v Sydney FC

When: Thursday, August 6
Where: ANZ Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm (AEST)

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  • Melbourne City v Adelaide United

When: Tuesday, August 11
Where: ANZ Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm (AEST)

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