Fresh off a 2-1 win in the final Melbourne Derby of the season, Melbourne City’s Jamie Maclaren has shrugged off any injury concerns as he looks ahead to the A-League run home.
Maclaren produced the dagger that made it 2-0 to his side in the 71st minute on Friday night when he fired home a sublime piece of counterattacking play that featured a gorgeous, backheeled assist from Florin Berenguer.
Combined with Berenguer's eighth-minute opener, it proved enough for Melbourne’s light-blue half to absorb a calamitous error from keeper Tom Glover, who dropped a simple save from an Ola Toivonen free-kick to make it 2-1 in the 78th minute, and take all three points from AAMI Park.
Nonetheless, it wasn't all roses for City, with a brief scare sent through their ranks when their leading man – who scored his 14th goal in 14 A-League games in the Derby – was withdrawn from the field in the immediate aftermath of the goal.
“He felt sore in his hamstring,” Erick Mombaerts said post-game. “So it was better for us and for him to stop.
“It’s better when you feel something in your hamstring to stop quickly. I hope he’s not injured.”
Speaking to journalists after the game, though, the Socceroos striker was quick to hose down any speculation about his health.
“I think it was just an issue with cramp,” he said. “Obviously with a high press you do put in some good work and we’ve been training a lot.
“I think it was more the celebration because during the goal and the actual action I was fine.
“I didn’t want to take any risks at 2-0 so Lachie Wales came on and did a great job anyway as he saw the game out.
“It’s not the same leg as the Western United game [in which Maclaren suffered a partial hamstring tear]. It’s totally fine, I’ve done all the checks and I’m all the good.”
Whereas he has in the past emphasised his desire to employ an attacking, high-possession style of play with his team, Mombaerts did admit on Friday night that he had adopted a different tact against Victory.
Content to sit off their foes and restrict their opportunities to counter, City was able to generally have the best of the game despite not having the ball. In turn, two lethally quick moves forward of their own paid dividends.
‘To be honest, it does happen in training,” Maclaren said of the swift build-up to his second-half goal. “That goal was like a 5-on-5 training game.
“You get that flair, you find that backheel, I make the run in the box. It probably looked good on the replay, I haven’t seen it yet, but I bet it looked good.
“Once I gave the ball to Noony [Criag Noone] and he gave it to Flo [Berenguer], I know Flo’s not the sort of players that would shoot from that angle so I had to make sure that he would put it back in play.