An undermanned Melbourne City team has bounced back from last week’s derby loss in vigorous style, coming back from two-nil down to stun a rampant Brisbane Roar side, with the game finishing a 2-2 draw.
Brisbane went into the half-time break with a two-goal buffer thanks to Jamie Maclaren, but two second-half goals from Bruce Kamau and Nicholas Colazo was enough to square the ledger at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
To many, the result comes as a huge surprise given the key personnel that missed the clash for City through injury and suspension. Valkanis was forced to play five youth players on the bench and two starting on the field, including 16-year-old Dylan Pierias who became the first ever A League player to be born in the 21st century.
City coach Michael Valkanis gave a heap of praise to his in-experienced players, backing up his decision to start two youth league players and suggesting the future at the club is looking very bright.
“I think Denis (Genreau) has been given the opportunity before and he’s come on and played and we believe in his ability as a midfielder, so that was a no brainer to give him another opportunity and this time to start,” Valkanis said.
“With Pierias, it was either you’ve got to mix-match our other players out of position or keep a consistency with a formation and put in a 16-year-old who we believe is going to be one of the future players at the club.
“So it was a no brainer early in the week to stick him (Pierias) and he did an exceptional job at training, picked up everything we spoke to him about and he did everything perfect. I think he had a very good performance for a young boy.”
The ability for his young side to show some fight and cause an upset result was not the only positive to come out of the clash. Goal keeper Thomas Sorensen played his first game since round one, given the opportunity with Dean Bouzanis being suspended for five matches.
“He (Sorensen) has defined what our culture is about, how he’s gone about his business in the time that he’s been out of the team, how he’s led the team even though he hasn’t been playing, how he’s trained the house down even though he hasn’t been playing, and how he stepped up today to lead a younger team.” Valkanis said.
It was a sudden turn around at half time and Brisbane would have gone into the tunnel with plenty of confidence to run out the game, but when asked about a soft Brisbane penalty that was awarded in the first half and what was mentioned during the break, Valkanis unleashed.
“There was no penalty, there shouldn’t have been two penalties, neither ours or theirs.” He said.
“I think it’s time we start taking responsibility and accountability to improve, because there was no two penalties. There was one penalty in the first half, that was Caceres being clattered in the box while he was going for a header, that was it, and it went unnoticed,” Valkanis expressed frustratingly.
“And the second goal, I think it was offside. We’ve had weeks where we have had goals cancelled against us that have been goals (Colazo in Adelaide and Bruno Fornaroli against Melbourne Victory) and we’ve had goals allowed against us that should be offsides, and really, it’s getting frustrating, really frustrating.
“And then we go in with young boys … what do you think they’re like? Frustrated. Their heads are down because they’ve given everything.
“I thought in that first half they were fantastic, the game plan was working accordingly and they were always going to be dangerous in the second half, so we had to be very positive with them and we told them not to worry, to keep control and play our style, keep to the game plan, keep focused, to have the same energy that they went into the game with and to finish on the final whistle with the same energy, and they did that.”
With their backs against the wall City were able to salvage a draw, but even that is a disappointment with the high standards that the club and players hold.
“I think it was very important to get a result today and we would have liked the three points because of the situation were in, but what will show more is the hard work and performance the boys put in,” Valkanis said.
“Pretty humble bunch of boys (after the game) and they’re probably a little bit disappointed they didn’t get three points.”
Much of the talk in the media over the past week and a bit has been in regards to Melbourne City’s potential lack of discipline and culture at the club, with seven first XI players missing the Roar clash through suspension.
But the Melbourne City was quick to defend his club, discrediting claims that the club has issues.
“To be quite honest, I hear stories about our discipline, I hear stories about our culture, it showed today what sought of culture Melbourne City has got,” Valkanis refuted.
“I think it was proof of it today with how the boys performed, how the boys responded at half time and how they responded in the end to be unlucky not to get three points.
City continue their campaign next Saturday when they travel to Westpac Stadium to take on the Wellington Phoenix.