A magnificent hat-trick to Wade Dekker propelled Melbourne City FC to a 4-3 win over Brisbane Roar in an enthralling Foxtel National Youth League clash on Saturday afternoon.
In a free-flowing encounter at CB Smith Reserve, reigning NYL Golden Boot winner Dekker was the inspiration behind a masterful attacking display, contributing to each of his side’s four goals in what was a dominant individual performance.
Dekker’s first goal in the third minute of the match highlighted City’s early dominance, but Brisbane regained their composure to roar to a 2-1 lead courtesy of a Nick D’Agostino strike and a Tomislav Fadjlevic own goal.
The see-sawing contest continued when Hernan Espindola restored parity just before half time, before Dekker and D’Agostino both found the back of the net in the second period as both sides created a number of goal scoring opportunities.
But it was Dekker’s class which ultimately shone through in the 63rd minute, swivelling expertly to control a neat pass from Denis Genreau and finishing coolly beyond Roar ‘keeper Tomislav Bililc to give City all three points.
City’s Hyundai A-League contingent were instrumental in yet another ruthless display in-front of goal, with Espindola and Stefan Zinni – who registered two assists – involved in majority of the team’s attacking opportunities.
With both sides considered to be the premier attacking teams of the competition, it didn’t take too long for City to stamp their authority on the contest, with Dekker tapping home Stefan Zinni’s drilled cut-back from close range to fire the hosts into the lead inside three minutes.
Palatsides’ men were dominant in possession throughout the opening stages, as City made early in-roads into a deep-lying Brisbane defence. The electric Zinni was a constant threat on the left wing, firing a tame effort into the arms of Roar ‘keeper Tomislav Bilic in the eighth minute, while Steve Kuzmanovski rifled an effort into the side netting only three minutes later.
City came agonisingly close to doubling its advantage when a low-ball from Ali Eyigun narrowly missed the studs of a lunging Dekker inside the penalty area, and the miss would prove to be costly as Brisbane equalized from the very next passage of play.
A swift-counter attacking move saw bustling striker D’Agostino find space inside the penalty area, who turned his marker with aplomb and finished into the side netting past a stationary Tando Velaphi in goal.
The experienced City goalkeeper was called upon to prevent City from falling behind only four minutes later, producing a superb reaction save to deny Hayden Sawyer, after the striker capitalised on an error from Tomislav Fadjlevic to break through on goal.
D’Agostino spurned a golden opportunity to give the Roar the lead in the 37th minute when the striker dragged his effort wide of Velaphi’s far post, but City would fall behind in unfortunate circumstances only three minutes later, as Fadjlevic could only manage to turn Shannon Brady’s dangerous cut-back into his own net.
But City wouldn’t dwell on forfeiting their previous advantage, restoring parity four minutes from half time with a swift counter-attack. Dekker’s searching long range pass found Zinni in space on the right wing, with Espindola turning home the winger’s cut back to make it 2-2.
In almost identical fashion to the first-half, City restored their advantage inside the opening two minutes of the second period, with Dekker continuing a fine day in-front of goal by prodding home Zinni’s pin-point cross past the onrushing Bilic.
A resilient Roar outfit continued to create chances and managed to level the scores in fortuitous fashion, when Velaphi was left stranded after D’Agostino’s powerful effort nestled in the back of the net via a wicket deflection.
But it was Dekker who would prove to be the hero, firing City back into the lead with his third goal of the afternoon, performing a neat swivel to give himself room after a deft pass from Denis Genreau, before finishing coolly past Bilic.
Defender Jordan Hall almost rammed home City’s advantage with a powerful header from Petreski’s corner, but Roar substitute Tom Miller made a superb goal-line clearance, only minutes after coming onto the pitch.
At the other end, Matthew Millar was also required to intervene with a last-ditch clearance when D’Agostino whistled an effort past Velaphi, while Sawyer came closest to levelling the scores eight minutes from time, slamming his effort against the crossbar after latching on to a neat cut-back inside the area.
But City would hold firm in the dying stages to continue the Club’s unbeaten National Youth League run at CB Smith Reserve.
Foxtel National Youth League - Round 5
Melbourne City FC 4 (Wade DEKKER 3’,47’,63’, Hernan ESPINDOLA 41’)
Brisbane Roar 3 (Nick D’AGOSTINO 18’ 50’, Tomislav FADLJEVIC 38’ (OG))
Venue: CB Smith Reserve, Fawkner