Melbourne City Youth coach Joe Palatsides was immensely proud of the turn around in performance since the side’s last game against rivals Melbourne Victory, as they won 2-1 on Sunday night.
The last meeting between the pair came in Round Four, where Victory on that afternoon triumphed 5-4 in a thriller at Lakeside Stadium.
It was a different sort of affair this time round, with a stronger emphasis on defence, as City conceded a goal or less for just the second time this season.
Palatsides puts that better defensive effort down to the slashing of mistakes, which plagued their last couple of home games against both the Victory and Brisbane Roar.
“Very satisfied with the performance. We played Victory a month ago and we made a lot of mistakes and errors, and we worked on that during the week,” Palatsides said.
“It was a pleasure to see the boys in the first half really concentrate on their roles that they had in the team. I felt we dominated that first half really well and we created chances – that’s the type of football we want to play.
“Yes we dropped away a bit in the second half and they pressured us and threw caution to the wind, which is what we expected, but all in all, it was a deserved victory and good team performance.”
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Christopher Cristaldo popped up to score against his former side early in the piece before clinical marksman Joey Katebian levelled things up in the second half.
Match winning duties were left late for youngster Nicolas Gonzalez – who scored 18 goals at reserve level for City during the NPL season – who ghosted in to steer a shot home with just three minutes left on the clock..
The head coach believes the mentality formed in their Championship winning season of 2014 helped set up their late win.
“It’s a resilient group now and on the back of last year’s Championship, they grew to another level,” Palatsides said.
“The boys ended up getting this winning mentality, which is very important for a footballer. You can see that in bits and pieces with the new group coming through. They’re all being grouped together with last years group.
“Even though you can see that we were under the pump a bit at the end, we always knew we’d be creating chances and that we’d carve out some sort of a good result. They’re a bit more resilient now and I think there is something to look forward too in the future.”
Second half substitute Stefan Zinni made an immediate impact when he was introduced, providing a touch of flair and purpose to the attacking stocks of City.
Palatsides touched on the rotation policy the club has at the club, which allowed the former South Melbourne junior to make his appearance later in the contest with fresh legs.
“For a youth football team, we try and share [the load] around a bit because we all of them having experience being challenged in a match situation,” he said.
“Luke [Gallo] came on [in the last Derby] and did really well so he deserved to start this time. He did quite well and when we put him into the left back role and he did well there as well.
“Stefan Zinni has been training with the senior team and we wanted him to make an impact in that last half an hour – he did that.
“Everyone has been playing their role really well and you can’t take away the likes of the back four that held up well and Denis Genreau and Leo Athanakis in the middle of the park who did well.
“Obviously there’s going to be senior players down here because they need a run, and that’s what we’re here for first and foremost. But then to watch the young players come through the shadows of those players and stand up – and I think they did stand up today in crucial moments,” Palatsides added.
“It’s not only the older youth boys, it’s also [Nick] Gonzalez and Luke Gallo who are just emerging now for that next level. As a coach and a football club, I think that’s something we’re very proud of.”