Can Melbourne City starlets provide Warren Joyce with Finals Series X-factor?
If the last round of the regular season is all about building some momentum, then Melbourne City are heading into the Finals Series like a steam train.
City were ruthless against Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park on Friday night, finding their mojo in front of goal to pummel the visitors 5-0.
Having struggled for goals for much of the 2018/19 Season, Warren Joyce’s side sent a warning shot to the rest of their title contenders.
And it was the club’s impressive stable of young talent which caught the eye against the Mariners.
Tottenham Hotspur loanee Shayon Harrison (21) put in a man-of-the-match performance with a double – including a solo stunner – while Riley McGree (20) was electric.
Meanwhile, Nathaniel Atkinson (19) and Lachlan Wales (21) showed why the pair were plucked by Graham Arnold for Australia's recent 2020 AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers in Cambodia.
A trio of teenagers were summoned by Joyce from the bench. Ramy Najjarine (19) completed the rout with a brilliant final goal, and midfielder Connor Metcalfe (19) also looked assured in the middle of the park.
And then there was 15-year-old Idrus Abdulahi.
Abdulahi became the second-youngest player to ever feature in a Hyundai A-League match when he replaced Dario Vidosic nine minutes from time.
The Ethiopian refugee, who is in Year 10 at Maribyrnong College in Melbourne, wasn’t overawed and started the move for the final goal of the night.
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For the majority of the campaign, Joyce has stuck with his older, more experienced players with their season failing to reach any great heights.
Perhaps Friday night’s showing proves City’s fearless kids might be worth a shot for Sunday’s do-or-die Elimination Final against Adelaide United.