Melbourne City forward Lachie Wales looks to squeeze between Perth Glory defenders Alex Grant (left) and Jason Davidson. Picture: AAP
Melbourne City forward Lachie Wales looks to squeeze between Perth Glory defenders Alex Grant (left) and Jason Davidson. Picture: AAP

City and Glory share the spoils

Melbourne City are clinging on to fourth spot after completing an uneventful draw with A-League leaders Perth Glory on Saturday night.

Both teams had chances at AAMI Park, but the draw leaves Tony Popovic's Glory side four points ahead of Melbourne Victory while City will drop to fifth if Wellington Phoenix beats Victory on Sunday.

 

SQUARE PEGS

 

With Bruno Fornaroli's exit in limbo, Warren Joyce continues to play without a recognised striker.

Lachie Wales and Ritchie de Laet, who both played youth soccer as strikers, paired up front without causing too much havoc.

 

Melbourne City’s Florin Berenguer has a shot on Saturday night. Picture: AAP
Melbourne City’s Florin Berenguer has a shot on Saturday night. Picture: AAP

The best chance fell to Frenchman Florin Berenguer, who got his feet tangled after some good hustle from de Laet in dispossessing stopper Dino Djulbic.

City's closest crack at goal was in fact Scott Jamieson's cross-cum-shot which sailed onto the crossbar with 10 minutes left.

 

 

EX CITY

 

Neil Kilkenny and Ivan Franjic returned to their old stomping grounds, with both involved in City's only piece of silverware, the 2016 FFA Cup win.

While Franjic left to pursue a Korean opportunity, Kilkenny left after he was frozen out by Joyce off the back of winning City's best and fairest award.

A number of City fans voiced their displeasure to the bench and Joyce in particular, with loud jeers heard at the final whistle despite their decent results of late leaving them in fourth.

 

KEEPER CONFUSION

 

Back-up keeper Mark Birighitti's City future has become a talking point after he completed the warm-up yet was left off the teamsheet.

Birighitti warmed up with no.1 keeper Eugene Galekovic, but youth team player James Delianov was on the bench for the second game running.

City have officials said Birighitti, 27, is plagued by a back problem, but it's believed that the Socceroos-capped keeper is unhappy at sitting on the bench after he was thought to be signed as the no.1.

Birighitti left Dutch club NAC Breda to join City on the eve of the season, but the outstanding form of veteran Galekovic has meant he's been forced to watch on.

 

 

Melbourne City forward Lachie Wales looks to squeeze between Perth Glory defenders Alex Grant (left) and Jason Davidson. Picture: AAP
Melbourne City forward Lachie Wales looks to squeeze between Perth Glory defenders Alex Grant (left) and Jason Davidson. Picture: AAP

 

CASTRO WIZARDRY

 

Spanish maestro Diego Castro was unable to influence the result as he has done in recent games, but his class was evident.

The game appears to move in slow motion when Castro has the ball, and Glory tried to use him as much as possible, although they struggled to break down City's deep defensive blocks.

Jason Davidson and Andy Keogh had Glory's best chances, with the 2014 World Cup Socceroos sending a great late chance over the crossbar after Keogh had initial shot saved before laying it off for the onrushing wing-back.

 

Perth Glory’s Diego Castro sends in a cross on Saturday night. Picture: AAP
Perth Glory’s Diego Castro sends in a cross on Saturday night. Picture: AAP

 

Castro looms as a real threat heading into finals, as his fitness levels are far higher than previous seasons and will only improve.

Glory will also collectively look far more dangerous when in-form attacker Chris Ikonomidis returns with his tail up from Socceroos duty.

 

THE COACHES

 

Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce:

 

"We wanted to win that game tonight. We know we've had a tough time over the last few weeks. The boys have done well to ground out another result.

"We've tried to get through with a smallish squad and we've managed to do that.

"The lads have shown endeavour and dug in deep late in games, put their bodies on the line when the opposition have got fresh forwards coming on. It's a credit to the players."

 

Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic:

 

"Overall we're pleased with the performance. We would've liked all three points, but today was a good point.

"We gave the ball away too much, the ball speed wasn't as high as usual in the first half, but we finished strongly. Melbourne City didn't really look like scoring."

 

MELBOURNE CITY 0 PERTH GLORY 0 at AAMI Park. Crowd: 6,055. Referee: Shaun Evans

 

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