Melbourne City FC continued their march towards the Foxtel National Youth League championship with a comfortable 2-0 victory over the Central Coast Mariners at Epping Stadium on Saturday.
A quick fire burst which saw Iain Ramsay and Hernan Espindola both strike in the space of two minutes proved to be enough in a game where Joe Palatside's men produced a dominant display of attacking football.
The victory sees Melbourne City FC sit three points clear of Perth Glory at the top of the FNYL table with only one game remaining, with the Glory in action against Adelaide United tomorrow morning.
The hosts nearly made a disastrous start to proceedings when Nicholas Symeoy was dispossessed by Josh Bingham in front of goal in the second minute, but the Mariners skipper could only produce a scuffed effort that trickled wide of the post.
Melbourne City FC’s first chance of the game fell to winger Espindola in the fourth minute, with the pocket rocket directing a tame header into the arms of Mariners keeper Adam Pearce after a nice run and cross from Iain Ramsay.
Ramsay then fired into the side netting only a minute later after the winger showed some of his trademark pace with a searing run in behind the Mariners defence.
Melbourne City FC began to seize the initiative against a Mariners outfit content to sit back and absorb pressure, with Espindola launching an effort from outside the area that narrowly sailed wide of Pearce’s right hand post.
The home-side continued to carve out a catalogue of chances, with Ramsay wasting a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the 19th minute when he blazed over from six yards after an excellent cross from Stefan Zinni, while Wade Dekker was denied only by an excellent last-ditch block from Brent Griffiths only a minute later.
The Mariners looked to threaten the home-side on the counter attack, with Stevanja denying Bingham after a fast break from Sam Perre and Jonatan Germano making an excellent last-ditch block to keep the scores level.
A moment of indecision from Pearce saw the lively Dekker beat him to the ball in the penalty area but the Mariners goalkeeper did just enough to divert the ball wide and keep his side in the contest.
Melbourne City FC’s dominance in attack finally came to fruition in the 39th minute as Ramsay emphatically finished past Pearce to open the scoring after a bursting run and cross down the left hand side from Tyler James.
And the home side doubled their lead only two minutes later after Espindola was on hand to head home inside the six yard box after a mix up from the Mariners defence allowed Germano’s throw in to ghost through the penalty area.
Stevanja stood tall to preserve Melbourne City FC’s lead at the conclusion of the first half with the keeper expertly denying Bingham in a one-on-one situation before holding on to a fizzing effort by Jesse Curran.
With the home-side seemingly in cruise control the Mariners searched for a ticket back into the contest, with Tom Slater firing into the side netting in the 55th minute after finding space in behind the defence.
Dekker almost made it 3-0 for the home-side in the 61st minute after he could only head an excellent fizzing cross from Ramsay wide of the goal.
Lachlan Wales came close to pegging a goal back for the Mariners in the 81st minute after he rattled the cross-bar from distance with Stevanja rooted to the spot. The Melbourne City FC goalkeeper was then given his marching orders in the late on for a second bookable offence, leaving Germano to deputise in goal for the final minutes.
The defender had a chance to show off his new found talent with a save at the death after the resulting Mariners set piece cannoned back off the post.
Melbourne City FC end their campaign with a fixture against the Newcastle Jets at Magic Park next Sunday, where another victory will see them secure the FNYL championship.