Melbourne City came, saw and conquered in Shepparton for the third straight time.
In front of a crowd of more than 2500 City overcame fellow A-League opponents Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0.
Friday night’s encounter could have resembled a game of chess with fans from near and far witnessing a game with chances few and far between, despite a relatively strong City line-up.
Daniel Arzani, 18, led the line for City for the most part and it was the teenager’s first-half strike that proved to be the difference in the end.
A short corner from Luke Brattan had Arzani fouled inside the box and the youngster held his nerve to convert in the bottom left-hand corner, sending John Hall the wrong way.
City’s manager Warren Joyce opted to select Polish midfielder and newly signed marquee Marcin Budzinski as a key inclusion after he arrived in Australia just last week.
Without the injured Bruno Fornaroli and the rested Tim Cahill in attack, City lined up with Budzinski in an advanced midfield role, Stefan Mauk in support and Bruce Kamau and Arzani in further advanced positions.
With the Wanderers having played 120 minutes plus penalties in its Football Federation Australia Cup quarter-final against Blacktown City on Wednesday, Tony Popovic opted to travel to the Goulburn Valley with a fairly inexperienced squad, sprinkled with a few senior players.
Socceroo Chris Herd was ever present for the Wanderers, while their best chance on goal also came from a set piece.
Steven Lustica, from the city end of McEwen Reserve, found Nick Krousouratis with his flick-on from a corner glancing the top of the crossbar in the 10th minute.
However, City fans thought the hosts hit the lead soon after in rather fortuitous fashion.
Osama Malik, who played in a defensive midfield role, saw his cross deflect to wrong-foot Hall in goals before bouncing just wide.
The onlooking Shepparton faithful were given the opportunity to see Budzinski for the first time and the new signing, just after the hour mark, created a half-chance for himself.
The Polish representative bypassed two Wanderers midfielders before scuffing his shot on the edge of the 18-yard box.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, Mauk could have put the game to bed after some nice interplay with Kamau on the right wing. The duo combined on the right with the latter cutting the ball back to the returning Mauk, before he saw his shot saved by Hall.
The only blemish for City after two terrific days in Shepparton was seeing defender Scott Jamieson limp off in the first half.
The marauding full-back fell awkwardly and it appears the 28-year-old may have tweaked a muscle in his back.
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