MELBOURNE City coach Warren Joyce has come under-fire for a series of “bizarre” decisions as his side crashed to a third straight loss in the A-League.
After taking the lead against Western Sydney Wanderers, City copped two goals in a minute to lose 2-1 and fall 15 points behind Sydney FC at the top of the table.
Yet in a bizarre decision, Joyce opted to make just one second half substitute as City chased the game – taking off top scorer Ross McCormack for young attacker Daniel Arzani with 20 minutes remaining.
It meant City persisted with a defensive core – with Bart Schenkeveld and Iacopo La Rocca in central defence, protected by Osama Malik and Michael Jakobsen as holding midfielders.
With Luke Brattan again forced out onto the right of midfield, with Bruce Kamau leading the line, marquee attacker Marcin Budzinski remained unused on the bench.
“I find that bizarre,” said Fox Sports football expert Robbie Slater when Joyce made his one and only sub.
“McCormack’s movement in the box has been good but they just haven’t been able to find him. He’s score eight goals this season … [and] it looks like he was moving okay.”
Slater added as City searched for an equaliser: “I find it extraordinary he still hasn’t emptied his bench chasing this game.”
Attacking midfielder Stefan Mauk was another option overlooked, as City lacked spark to break down an open Western Sydney side that were forced to shift their team after a second half injury to Josh Risdon.
Despite getting 15 balls into the box in the second half, City forced just one save from Vedran Janjetovic – a 95th minute Brattan free kick.
In the first half, McCormack had struck against the run of play before his penalty was stopped by the Wanderers gloveman.
“Yeah, I’m disappointed again,” Joyce told Fox Sports post game.
“I thought we took the lead when we didn’t have load of possession … it was a well worked goal but poor decisions let them back in the game and we gave them two chances out of nothing. It was a mad three minutes.
“It sets us back massively. The last three weeks, individual errors have cost us … poor decisions on the ball has cost us two goals tonight when we had a lot of opportunities in the second half. That’s frustrating and disappointing. We should have had something from the game but it’s not good enough with what we want to do this year.
“We have to get goals form more areas on the park … we got into good areas on the park but sometimes we didn’t even get a shot away.”
Joyce added: “Wins are important, we have to stop giving stupid goals away in key times. In games when we’re in control we tend to take our foot off the gas – we aren’t mature enough and we have to show more ambition to be on top.”