FC Bendigo earned praise from Melbourne City coach John van’t Schip after Tuesday night’s clash at Epsom.
As expected, Melbourne City outclassed FC Bendigo 4-0, but the A-League power didn’t have everything its own way.
While City dominated possession it wasn’t until the final five minutes that they put FC Bendigo to the sword, scoring two goals to make the scoreline look worse for the home side than it should have.
“It was a good hit-out for us. We really had to work for it which was a compliment for Bendigo,’’ van’t Schip said.
“Bendigo prepared very well and physically they were very strong.
“We had to work hard for the win and in the end I think Bendigo got a little tired and we scored some late goals.”
FC Bendigo coach Steve Martin was disappointed with the end scoreline, but proud of the way his young squad performed.
“It’s a different class coming up against a team like Melbourne City,’’ Martin said.
“I was pleased with the discipline our boys played with.
“We were competitive and we gave some young boys an opportunity which was the aim for the night.”
Former English Premier League star Damien Duff led the way for City in the first half.
His work down the right hand side created numerous chances for City.
Duff pounced on a turnover in the eighth minute and found Paulo Retre, who calmly found the unmarked Marc Marino to score the opening goal.
Retre looked set to add his name to score sheet in the 21st minute, but his shot was brilliantly saved by FC Bendigo keeper Seb Mattei.
City didn’t capitalise on its possession and van’t Schip moved central defender Patrick Kisnorbo forward late in the half in an attempt to utilise his aerial strength.
Kisnorbo looked dangerous, but the score remained 1-0 at half-time.
FC Bendigo’s best chance to score came in the first two minutes of the second half when skipper Trent Waterson’s header forced a smart save from City’s second-string keeper Tando Velaphi.
Five minutes later City doubled its lead when Marino scored his second thanks to some more smart work from Duff down the right wing.
Duff’s substitution in the 60th minute sparked a plethora of changes from both teams.
City used the final 30 minutes of the match to trial some youth players and they grabbed their opportunity.
Prelevic scored himself in the 85th minute before setting up Decker for the final goal in the 90th minute.
“The pitch was good and the facilities were really good, so we are happy,’’ van’t Schip said.
“A facility like this we don’t find easily in Melbourne.
“We look for a good pitch to play our games and that’s what we got this evening.
“We also want to play competitive teams and Bendigo was competitive.”