Another record down, Maclaren sets sight on Berisha’s ALM goalscoring crown

With yet another A-League Men record broken, Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren is setting his sights on the ultimate goalscorer prize the league has to offer: the legendary Besart Berisha’s all-time goalscoring mark. 

Maclaren took sole possession of the competition’s consecutive games with a goal mark last week: grabbing a brace in his side’s 3-1 win over Wellington last week to move past former Perth Glory teammate Andy Keogh. 

Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren
Header Image Credit: Melbourne City

Those goals, a 51st-minute penalty and stoppage-time sealer, brought the 29-year-old up to 12 goals on the season after nine games, six games clear of next-best Central Coast Mariners talisman Jason Cummings and only four back of the Golden Boot winning mark of 16 he achieved in 2021/22. 

Helped by his blistering start to the 2022/23 campaign, his all-time goals per A-Leagues game ratio of 0.71 is now .3 clear of former City and Mariners striker Ross McCormack. Former Melbourne Victory captain Ola Toivonen and his 0.63 goals per game is the next-best ratio amongst players that have recorded at least one season’s worth of appearances in the competition.

Beyond his pursuit of a record fifth golden boot and other assorted pieces of history, Maclaren now has one major landmark in his sights: only ten goals behind Besart Berisha on the A-Leagues all-time goalscoring list. 

“Going into this season I looked at it and I was 22 off him,” Maclaren told reporters on Friday. “I’d scored more than 22 goals in previous seasons and I know that I’ve got to put myself in the right positions, stay healthy, and have the quality behind me to assist me. 

“There are ten goals to go, there are more than ten games to go. At this point in time I’ve got a goal a game. I’ll be working towards it. 

“It’s nice that I’ve got a target. I’m not obsessed with it, I know what I have to do. Last week I had twelve to go and now I’ve got ten to go.

“It’s a nice little milestone to try and chase down. If it happens this year or it happens in the future I know that I’ve worked so hard since my first-ever goal. 

“[But] I’ll be focused on Western United tomorrow, I won’t be thinking about this record on the all-time A-Leagues goalscoring list until it gets to crunch time. Because right now, it’s Besart’s record.”

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In an added piece of serendipity to his chase, Maclaren previously filled the void left Berisha at the tip of Brisbane Roar’s spear after he moved to Victory, signing in Queensland in 2015 after Mensur Kurtishi and Andrija Kaluderovic were unable to fill the Kosovo international’s shoes. 

A season on, the pair would share the competition’s golden boot, Berisha’s second and the first of what currently stands at four for Maclaren. 

“Me and Bes have a great relationship,” said Maclaren. “We do keep in touch. He’s doing fantastic things. He wants to become a coach, he’s in Berlin at the moment, I believe. 

“I think if there’s one person that Bes wouldn’t mind overtaking his goalscoring record, it’s myself. I remember sharing a golden boot with him and he’d just gone past his 100th goal and I stood on the podium with him and said this isn’t about me, this is about Besart.

“I’ve got a huge amount of respect for the guy, I’ve looked up to him, every time I’ve won a golden boot he’s reached out. We shared a good moment in Sydney when we played against Western United and I’d won the Golden Boot that night – he gave me a cuddle. 

“We’ve got a huge amount of respect for each other and I’ve got great admiration for what he’s done in his career.”

Maclaren’s next chance to close the gap between himself and Berisha will come on Saturday evening when he and his City teammates take on Western United at AAMI Park. 

After a shaky start to their season, which included a 2-1 loss to City in round one, United have somewhat steadied the ship following the league’s World Cup break: unbeaten in their last three games and conceding just a single goal across that stretch. 

This return to form has largely coincided with the return of Serbian striker Aleksander Prijovic to the defending champion’s squad after a fitness hampered his commencement to the season, as well as the return of defender Tomoki Imai from a separated shoulder suffered in round one. 

“Prijovic is a very big element in their build-up,” City interim coach Rado Vidošić said. “A lot of times when they’re under pressure they will play a long ball to Prijovic, he holds the ball up and brings midfielders into play. 

“He’s been a very important part of their attacking side of it. So, we need to be extremely careful and extremely smart in our decision-making in how we mark him inside the penalty box. How to mark him on the halfway line in the pressing moments, it’s very important. And if we do what we are hoping that we can do then we can nullify him. 

“Nevertheless, he is an extremely dangerous player and when he is on top of his game, he can bring all these other players into the game. 

“You can see now that they are not conceding many goals, they are much more cohesive and better organised going forward. They are looking more stable. 

“So it’s going to be a great game, I can’t wait.”

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City


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