Kisnorbo pleased with performance, kids following Derby draw

Melbourne City may have been unable to complete the hattrick against Melbourne Victory on Sunday evening, but coach Patrick Kisnorbo is taking positives from what looms as an important fixture ahead of their finals campaign. 

Staged behind-closed-doors at AAMI Park due to Melbourne’s COVID lockdown, City had appeared set to make it three wins from three Melbourne Derbies in 2020-21 — what would have been a first-ever seasons sweep for the club — after Nick Ansell inadvertently turned a Naoki Tsubaki cross into his own net. 

But with just seconds remaining, a goalmouth scramble off a Victory corner allowed Lleyton Brooks to hammer home a last-ditch equaliser to simultaneously save his side another piece of unwanted history and dash the hopes of circling hacks eager to seize on the symbolism of an own goal consigning Victory to a first-ever wooden spoon. 

But while his side failed to reach the giddy heights of their previous six and seven to nil thrashings of their cross-town foes, Kisnorbo cut a reflective figure post-game. 

Sunday evening’s contest his first without Socceroo call-ups Jamie Maclaren, Curtis Good, and Connor Metcalfe, the first-year head coach also rested winger Craig Noone and super-sub Stefan Colakovski for the game. Adding the injured Andrew Nabbout and Nathaniel Atkinson to the ledger — both of whom City hope could potentially return for a semi or grand final — and it meant that City was missing six first-choice players from the start of the season. 

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But with just a single game left to adjust to his new circumstances before his side’s finals begin — that game against Newcastle Jets likely to be played next Friday — the City coach was pleased with the way that his side performed. 

“It’s always disappointing, but I look for the positives and there’s a lot of positives out of the game,” said Kisnorbo. “Obviously there’s also a lot to work on. We’ll review the game and we’ll start working on Tuesday. 

“We introduced something to players and they adapted really well. I thought we controlled the game, the speed, the tempo. I think we created enough chances. 

“I thought there are things that need to improve, like every game but generally, I was quite happy. 

“I just think, you know, when you look at the whole, sometimes you’ve got to take the result away and look at the 90 minutes as a game. 

“Ok, you’re disappointed to concede at the last second, but I was really pleased with some things that happened tonight. And again, we’ll work to continue to get better at it. Young Rafa [Raphael Borges Rodrigues] played really well. [So did] 15-year-old Max Caputo that came on.” 

At 15 years and 293 days, Caputo became the 12th youngest player in Australian national league history when he entered the field as an 83rd-minute substitution for Borges Rodrigues — the son of former Adelaide United striker Cristiano having made his first-ever A-League start in his third senior appearance. 

Both players having missed out on considerable football due to COVID wiping out the 2020 NPL Victoria and 2020-21 Y-League seasons, Kisnorbo said that it had been important to reward the pair for their strong performances with City’s youth teams. 

“With Rafa, obviously he’s been in our academy system for a while now,” the City coach said. 

“I decided to start him because I wanted to reward him for doing well in the NPL system. So, he started the game, which for going to NPL to A-League I thought he did really well. Still needs to work on a lot but I think he did really. 

“Max, another one that’s done really well in our NPL system. He’s a Melbourne boy. Decided to, again, reward him for the season that he’s had thus far prior to the COVID lockdown. 

“They both train with us full time and I was really pleased with them both, thrown into an environment that they might not be used to or be challenging. 

“What I’ve learned through this COVID stuff is that sometimes the young players miss out on a lot of football, last year they missed out on a whole year. I had a chance to put them in, to give them some minutes and to show them what the A-League is all about because they deserved it from the games they’ve played and the way they train day in and day out.”

Sunday evening’s contest his final A-League game as Victory caretaker, Steve Kean praised the performance of goalkeeper Matt Acton, who produced a series of outstanding first-half saves to keep his side in the contest. 

Raphael Borges Rodrigues (left) battles with Elvis Kamsoba for possession
(Picture: Melbourne City)

“For Matty, the good thing is he’s a top professional,” said Kean. 

“He trains like a man possessed every day. He comes in, he does all his preparation so for him to get a run in the side and to be showing everybody what a good goalkeeper he is I’m really pleased for him because he’s a top pro. 

“He kept us in the game with vital saves at vital times and he’s been great, the last 10 games he’s been really, really good.”

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
You’re seeing this advert because this is an unpaid, self-published piece.

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City

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