It’s Sunday night and we’re suspending the Sunday scaries for just a little while to bring you coverage of what could be scarier, the first derby between Melbourne City and Western United. City have four unanswered goals from the FFA Cup final to avenge, while Western United have tattoos, weird merch, DM skills, Greek and Italian internationals and Besart Berisha.
Let the games begin.
Western United win the toss. Their fans have repurposed a Sydney FC chant and a lone Mariner-inspired trumpeter. Imitation, flattery, all that.
City’s Rostyn Griffiths fouls United’s Panagiotis Kone and gets a yellow card in the first five minutes but apart from that, it’s a slow start. The lone trumpeter seems to be playing funeral march music and the teams don’t look to have woken up yet.
City make a few half-hearted attempts on goal early, and United keeper Kurto is immense. Josh Brillante, former Sydney FC midfielder, is really taking to that bearded Melbourne look, and also his new teammates Scott McDonald and Craig Noone. It’s only a matter of time until their easy play pays off.
Western United are not afraid of taking shots from outside the box, with Alessandro Diamanti confidently distributing to his attackers all across the pitch. He pushes the ball to Berisha in front of goal who’s surely in but his is a feeble attempt in the end, easily picked up by City keeper Bouzanis.
City are beginning to wake up and start to become quite dominant. United’s Connor Pain brings the yellow card tally to two with a challenge on Craig Noone. Then Griffiths shoots the ball from outside the box straight to the top right but it’s tipped over the crossbar by a full-stretch Kurto, who continues to be the best thing about this game.
Another chance for Berisha from a Diamanti corner but he heads it straight to the keeper. The active support look actively bored or maybe I’m just projecting. Minutes pass, or is it an age? Then, suddenly, it’s the 32nd minute and City’s Denis Genreau’s bearing down on the box, looping the ball to the chest of Jamie Maclaren, who angles it down to his feet and shoots it past an unlucky Kurto. Who I feel a bit sorry for. City 1-0.
Watching this game and it doesn’t seem like Western United have an Italian international, a Greek international and Besart Berisha. And their trumpeter either needs to play more upbeat music or they need to tap him on the shoulder.
The second half and Western United just look tired, like maybe they’ve already had their Glory days and they’re ok with that. Harison Delbridge hacks at Diamanti and gets a yellow card. Then 56 minutes in, Diamanti, in the middle of the park, threads the ball past two defenders, into the box and into the path of Berisha who follows through with a swing and a shot straight into the left post. It rebounds into play but is enough to wake up the game. Finally.
Western United then has their next best chance of the game with an almost open goal for McDonald to finish into but he veers a little (a lot) too far to the right. It hasn’t been their night so far. But then.
It looks like Delbridge, already on a yellow, has taken Berisha out in the box and a penalty has been awarded. The way that they’ve been playing, they’ll miss it, it’s fine. But instead the penalty is for a handball against Delbridge which means a second yellow card. In football maths, that means a red card, off the pitch, do not pass go, or pass Berisha who finally gets a goal, converting his penalty. 1-1.
Suddenly this derby feels like a derby. I’ve remembered how much I despise Berisha. City are down to 10 men and, if you’ve ever played as or against 10 men, you’ll know that they galvanise like nothing else. (At least women do.)
The trumpeter does his best with the funeral march music but even he can’t kill the vibe now that it’s finally awoken.
There are twenty minutes to go. Western United have found new legs. Subs are made. Berisha keeps swinging at goal. His misses make me happy because this may as well be a Big Blue from two years ago for me. City are digging in enough to look like eleven, not ten men. There are ten minutes plus injury time to go and there’s another goal in this.
Then. Scenes. Brillante passes straight to Maclaren and Macca shoots it straight through to the back of the net with five minutes to go. Four minutes of extra time see a last ditch try from Berisha who heads a free kick from Diamanti over the top of the goal post. City 2-1.
Consider that FFA loss avenged and with it, the Sunday Scaries. Until next time.
By Kelly Simpson