Despite sitting on top of the table, Melbourne City has an unwanted defensive record after five rounds.
City’s failure to finish games strongly was evidenced in last week’s loss to Brisbane, with their tally for goals conceded in second halves increasing to eight – the most in the league.
While head coach Erick Mombaerts says this is easily identifiable, the challenge lies in finding the solution to avoid late lapses in concentration.
“It’s easy to say, it’s easy to ask but not easy to do,” Mombaerts said.
“In my position I have to find solutions to help the players be stronger mentally and collectively, so I’m sure for tomorrow’s game we will be stronger than we were in Brisbane.
“Sometimes it starts with a lack of mental strength, for example concentration, but it also continues with tactical mistakes but we have also good strength because we are one of the best team with our offensive style of play so we have to find more balance between offensive and defensive style.”
Connor Metcalfe has been ruled out of the match after picking up a hamstring injury on international duty with the Olyroos, while Mombaerts confirmed Florin Berenguer returned to training during the week.
“Connor is coming back but he is injured, he cannot play and Tom [Glover] and Ramy [Najjarine] will be in the squad but I don’t know their physical level,” Mombaerts said.
“Florin just came back this week so he is not able to start and Richard [Windbichler] I hope can start with the squad next week, but we’ll see.”
City travel to face the Western Sydney Wanderers this week, a side who have only conceded four goals all season.
Midfielder Josh Brillante expects a strong response from the side, after some “lazy” finishes to games.
“I think for any team that loses like that there has to be a reaction,” he said.
“We knew that from the last few games we got lazy in the last 10-15 minutes to cop easy goals.
“You can’t take anything for granted, we came in a bit lackadaisical in the second half and we copped four goals, so we’ll definitely be wary of that.
“That is not a good habit to get into and it affected us last game, so we have to practice on the pitch to have that mentality and not to do that.
“Majority of the time these games are generally won in the last 10-15 minutes, fitness is key and focus and concentration in the last few minutes is important in winning these games.”
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