Bart Schenkeveld has written himself into Melbourne City folklore with his dramatic headed goal deep into stoppage time – the final act in an exhilarating 4-3 win over the 10-man Western Sydney Wanderers.
City got off to the perfect start, with makeshift striker Ritchie De Laet scoring the fastest goal in the club’s history.
Crumbling under the City press, Keanu Baccus played a hospital back-pass well short of his goalkeeper allowing De Laet to gleefully dribble past Nick Suman and tuck the ball into the empty net – 1-0 up after just 30 seconds.
The Wanderers’ equaliser arose from an equally horrifying giveaway from Curtis Good, who in trying the play the ball out from the back could only find the feet of Tate Russell.
Two passes later, Jaushua Sotirio was released down the right-hand side of the penalty area. Good, in his eagerness to make up for the error, could only bundle Sotirio over and concede a spot-kick. Roly Bonevacia stepped up, stuttered, and sent Galekovic the wrong way to make it 1-1.
Luke Brattan re-established the lead in the 38th minute with another addition to his personal highlight reel. Receiving the ball 25 yards from goal, he nutmegged Fitzgerald and curled a stunning strike across goal into the top left-hand corner.
Just four minutes into the second half, the Wanderers equalised again. A Bonevacia corner was cleared only as far as Jordan O’Doherty, who whipped a superb ball to the far post. Young defender Tas Mourdoukoutas showed terrific technique to glance a backward header into the net for his first A-League goal.
And with City pushing numbers forward, the Wanderers capitalised – Bonevacia doing terrifically well to tee up Sotirio while severely off-balance, and the pacy winger doing the rest, hitting an inch-perfect curler first time with his left foot, and picking out the same corner as Brattan had in the first half.
The drama was far from over, however, as Keanu Baccus raked his studs down Bart Schenkeveld’s shin to earn his second yellow card, leaving his side in the lurch for the final 25 minutes.
Joyce threw on young legs in the form of Lachie Wales, Nathaniel Atkinson and Moudi Najjar as City chased the game. The breakthrough again came through De Laet, who turned Mourdoukoutas on the edge of the area and picked out the bottom corner, beyond the despairing dive of Suman. The Belgian is now his side’s top scorer, with six goals in fourteen games this season.
In heartbreaking fashion for the red and black faithful, their young side once again could not hold on in the dying moments. Atkinson and Schenkeveld were both left completely unmarked from a corner in the 94th minute, and it was the Dutchman who rose high and unopposed to slam his header home. His first ever goal in the A-League, and what a time to score it.
A Tuesday night classic at AAMI Park – seven goals, a red card, and a night that those in attendance will not soon forget. City have now won five of their last eight games and sit comfortably in 4th place, 4 points clear of their nearest rivals, the Phoenix, whom they will face on Saturday. For the Wanderers, the dream of making the finals looks all but over, with a 13-point gap between themselves in 8th place and Adelaide United in 6th.