Leckie double helps City rout Sydney FC

Ed Jackson |

Socceroo Mathew Leckie scored a double as Melbourne City’s charge to the A-League Men’s premiers plate continued with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Sydney FC at AAMI Park.

The winger took his tally to nine for the season as he led City to a fourth straight win on Wednesday.

Youngster Jordan Bos’s first half-rocket lit up a cagey first half in front of a sparse midweek crowd, while leading scorer Jamie Maclaren was the other player to get on the scoresheet as City completely outclassed last year’s grand-final rivals.

A clean sheet also means Patrick Kisnorbo’s team has now gone three matches without conceding in an 11-game unbeaten run which included last Saturday’s 6-0 thrashing of Wellington.

“We had a great game against Wellington last week and we wanted to continue that,” Leckie told Paramount+.

“Conditions last game were very tough and it just showed the mentality of the team and the strength of the team … we’ve got a great team with great players but I think the most important thing is the mentality of the group.”

With points in the bag, the victory gives City the edge to win consecutive premierships but second-placed Western United still pose a major threat, having played three games less and just eight points adrift.

City’s rout began in spectacular style when 19-year-old Bos pounced on a cleared corner before rifling a first-time finish off his left foot from 25m for his first ALM goal.

After failing to get a shot on target in the first half, Sydney were two down 10 minutes into the second period when Leckie nodded home from an Andrew Nabbout cross.

The effort was initially ruled out with the referee’s assistant raising his flag as Nabbout flirted with the touchline, but a VAR check deemed the ball hadn’t gone out before the Socceroo crossed and the goal was given.

That led Sydney coach Steve Corica to make a triple substitution and it nearly paid immediate dividends when Luciano Narsingh, one of the players introduced, combined with Adam Le Fondre in the 59th minute.

The English forward’s curling effort was well palmed away by City goalkeeper Tom Glover in the only save he had to make on the night.

Socceroos forward Maclaren hit the post after Leckie and Nabbout again combined well in the 66th minute but just four minutes later the league’s leading scorer notched his 14th of the campaign.

A delightful through ball from Marco Tilio released Maclaren who sprinted clear of Mustafa Amini before blasting past Heward-Belle.

Leckie then wrapped up the win in the 73rd minute when he juggled the ball past James Donachie before slamming an effort from the edge of the area into the bottom corner.

“Even from the start of the first half, we didn’t compete. Basically that was as simple as it is,” Corica said.

“They outplayed us. We didn’t want to play in the first half, we were quite negative … and then when we started to step out in the second half we got caught a couple of times.

“Overall it was a poor performance from us.”

The only sour point for City was an ankle injury to midfielder Aiden O’Neill which will put him in doubt for Saturday’s derby against Melbourne Victory.

Sydney, who sit fifth on the ladder in a tight battle to finish in the top six, face in-form Central Coast in a crucial match for both teams’ finals aspirations on Saturday in Gosford.