City prove too good for Mariners in ALM

Jamie Maclaren scored in Melbourne City's 3-1 A-League Men win over Central Coast.
Jamie Maclaren scored in Melbourne City's 3-1 A-League Men win over Central Coast.

Melbourne City coach Patrick Kisnorbo has expressed frustration at losing a number of his key players to international duty following his side's 3-1 A-League Men win over Central Coast.

Goals from Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout and Carl Jenkinson helped City take a deserved win over the Mariners at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday, snapping a run of three straight draws.

It moved the defending champions back into the second position on the ALM table and came despite the absence of defenders Scott Jamieson, Nuno Reis and Rostyn Griffiths due to a combination of COVID-19 and suspensions.

City, however, is set to face more disruptions in the weeks ahead, with Maclaren, Mat Leckie, Marco Tilio, and Connor Metcalfe all called into the Socceroos squad for looming World Cup qualifiers against Vietnam and Oman.

The ALM season is set to continue on during the international peroid and Kisnorbo, who has frequently lost players to international duty, couldn't hide his frustration.

"The frustrating thing for a coach is we say things will change with international breaks and they never do," Kisnorbo said.

"I'm happy for the players and it's a World Cup qualifier, you want your country to go to the World Cup. And it's great to see that our players are getting picked.

"But we still have to play a game.

"I'm not going to comment too much because things just don't change. So it's OK. You need to adapt and move on."

The Mariners, who remain in fifth despite the defeat, are also set to lose Kye Rowles to international duty in the coming weeks, and reports have linked standout goalkeeper Mark Birighitti with a move away from the club.

Montgomery played down talk that his side would soon be losing Birighitti but did confirm they were soon to welcome attacking reinforcement in the form of Scottish-born, Socceroo-eligible attacker Jason Cummings.

"He's a quality player, I've spoken to him and I've tracked him for a while," Montgomery said.

The Mariners were also without five players due to COVID on Sunday, but Montgomery said that due to A-Leagues regulations dictating that clubs could only delay games if five players from their previous ALM squad contracted the virus, he was unable to seek a postponement.

The Mariners played in the FFA Cup mid-week but, thanks to COVID delays, their last ALM game was in December.

City's early dominance of the game meant that their makeshift backline had little to do in the opening exchanges.

Getting forward in the 18th minute, fill-in left-back Jordy Bos played an integral role in his side's opener when he advanced into the Mariner penalty area and let loose with an effort that Birighitti could only parry into the path of a waiting Maclaren.

City, however, were wasteful with their remaining first-half chances and were made to pay late on when Marco Urena wrongfooted makeshift centre-back Aiden O'Neill and drove a shot into the bottom corner.

Nabbout, however, restored his side to a lead they would not relinquish when he met a perfectly weighted cross to the back post from French teammate Florin Berenguer and fired in his fourth goal of the season.

Former England international Jenkinson, who only landed in Australia on Thursday after securing a loan from Nottingham Forest, sealed the game when he turned in a goalmouth scramble in the 84th minute.

Australian Associated Press