Connor Metcalfe of Melbourne City (left) and Jake McLean of the Strikers compete for the ball on Tuesday night. Picture: Getty Images
Connor Metcalfe of Melbourne City (left) and Jake McLean of the Strikers compete for the ball on Tuesday night. Picture: Getty Images

Strikers undone by City class

MELBOURNE City have survived an early scare to end the Brisbane Strikers' hopes of becoming the first NPL club to reach an FFA Cup final.

On the back of a Jamie Maclaren double, City beat the Strikers 5-1 at Perry Park on Tuesday night to earn themselves a shot at winning a second Cup after their 2016 success.

And while it was a convincing semi-final win in the end, City were forced to fight back from a goal down after the Strikers grabbed a shock lead in just the third minute through the prolific Andy Pengelly.

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But it was going to be a huge ask for the Strikers to keep City scoreless and it predictably proved too much for gallant hosts in front of 3706 fans.

City equalised in the 30th minute via a Connor Metcalfe goal before putting the Strikers to the sword in the second half.

Socceroos marksman Maclaren, who overcame a knee injury to start, gave City a 2-1 lead in the 48th minute, before the visitors extended their advantage 14 minutes later through substitute Javier Cabrera.

Melbourne City players congratulate striker Jamie Maclaren (centre) after he scored against Brisbane Strikers on Tuesday night. Picture: Getty Images
Melbourne City players congratulate striker Jamie Maclaren (centre) after he scored against Brisbane Strikers on Tuesday night. Picture: Getty Images

Late goals to Maclaren and defender Scott Galloway provided the icing on the cake for the visitors as the Strikers' Cup run came to a brutal end.

Despite the one-sided scoreline, City coach Erick Mombaerts praised the Strikers.

"Now I'm not surprised that this team reached the semi-final," said the Frenchman, who wasn't entirely pleased with his own side's performance.

 

"Yes we won 5-1… but I expect better defensively. Now is the time to focus on our defensive organisation.

City will meet the winner of Wednesday night's semi-final between Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United in the October 23 decider.

Scott Jamieson of Melbourne City (back) and Zac Maltby of the Strikers compete for the ball. Picture: AAP
Scott Jamieson of Melbourne City (back) and Zac Maltby of the Strikers compete for the ball. Picture: AAP

"To score the goal first was a great moment for the team and the players," Strikers coach Owen Baker said.

"On another night we could have done this, I genuinely believe that.

Melbourne City’s Florin Berenguer gets to the ball ahead of the Striker’s Chris Maher on Tuesday night. Picture: AAP
Melbourne City’s Florin Berenguer gets to the ball ahead of the Striker’s Chris Maher on Tuesday night. Picture: AAP

"We probably scored too early … it made it very difficult.

"(But) this experience has been massive for our club."

Meanwhile former Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners coach Mike Mulvey has been named technical director of Ipswich-based club Western Pride.