Melbourne City, Wanderers draw in A-League

Melbourne City's draw with Western Sydney keeps them in second place in the A-League but still 10 points behind leaders Sydney FC.

JAMIE MACLAREN.
JAMIE MACLAREN. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Melbourne City have spurned a chance to tighten their grip on second place in the A-League with a 1-1 draw against Western Sydney at AAMI Park.

The Wanderers snatched the lead through Tate Russell's first A-League goal in the 21st minute, while Jamie Maclaren equalised from the penalty spot in the 30th.

The result leaves City 10 points behind leaders Sydney FC - although they will hold onto second place - while Western Sydney will be at least two points outside the finals race at the end of the round.

"We had possession especially in the first half but, today, our tactical decision-making was too slow," City coach Erick Mombaerts said.

"Maybe one or two touches more - so our creativity was maybe not enough to break this defensive block.

"When you face a defensive block like that, our combined movement has to be great but also we need to combine better in a small area and our creativity was not enough today."

City were forced into major changes - Markel Susaeta replaced suspended midfielder Adrian Luna, Lachie Wales started on the wing and Harrison Delbridge deputised for Rostyn Griffiths (suspended).

City started fastest when Wales turned Craig Noone's cross wide with a diving header in the 11th minute before Western Sydney broke the deadlock with a spectacular effort.

Mitch Duke swept a delightful cross-field ball to Russell, who one-touched to Nicolai Muller, received it back and powered home.

City equalised after Noone won a penalty when he was brought down after Wanderers goalkeeper Daniel Lopar palmed a shot away.

Wanderers coach Jean Paul de Marigny lamented the penalty call against Russell as "very soft".

Maclaren slammed his spot-kick down the middle to level the scores.

Wanderers striker Simon Cox spurned a gilt-edged chance to snare all three points in the 69th minute.

An errant backpass from Nathaniel Atkinson forced Curtis Good into a header which fell at the feet of Cox, whose sidefooted shot was partially blocked by goalkeeper Thomas Glover.

Delbridge eventually cleared the danger.

In the 82nd minute, Noone flashed a header wide from Atkinson's cross, leaving the teams to settle for a point apiece.

"I think the boys did extremely well - tactically and (they) showed unbelievable discipline within our structure," de Marigny said.

"We obviously were waiting for moments, we talked about that and we had some good moments there and, unfortunately, it didn't happen for us. But I'm very proud of the boys and the way they applied themselves throughout the whole game.

"It was very pleasing for us. It was a great reaction from last week."


AAP