Jamie Maclaren became the first man in A-League Men's history to score in nine consecutive matches with his brace against Wellington. (Image: Melbourne City)

It was an end-to-end contest for the full 90 minutes in Wellington as the Phoenix pushed league-leaders Melbourne City to the final whistle. The visitors proved too strong, coming away with a 3-1 win highlighted by Jamie Maclaren’s record-setting goal.

Maclaren became just the first man in A-League Men history to score in nine consecutive matches when he converted a penalty in the 51st minute. He doubled his tally in the 97th minute through an aggressive counterattack to take his season total to 12 as he closes the gap between himself and Besart Berisha atop the A-League Men leading scorers chart.

City strengthened their grip on top of the ladder with a game in hand, as the league decides how to settle the suspended Melbourne Derby. Melbourne continues to be the benchmark of the competition, absorbing 10 minutes of constant pressure in the dying moments before breaking away to score the sealer in the final minute.

It was a textbook performance from Rado Vidosic’s men despite going down in the 16th minute thanks to a classy finish from Englishman David Ball. It took Melbourne just two minutes to equalise and Vidosic couldn’t be happier with the result.

“We know Wellington are a top team, especially at home,” Vidosic said post-match.

“I’m so proud of how the boys carried themselves, we had a plan and we stuck to that plan. It was all hands to the pump at the end of the game.

“I’m so happy we ended up winning the game, and not just ended up winning but winning with two goals in the end.”

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The City defenders were under fire for much of the second half, Maclaren’s game-winning penalty coming against the run of play. Melbourne Goalkeeper Tom Glover showed again that he’s one of the premier young shot-stoppers in the country, despite a few mistakes.

Glover made six saves on Monday, and his defenders made 27 clearances compared to Wellington’s 13. Vidosic gave the opposition plenty of credit for their performance and was incredibly proud his team managed to stand up when it counted.

“We knew that sooner or later they [the Phoenix] are going to spank someone, we just didn’t want it to be us,” he said.

“I can’t believe they didn’t score that second goal despite having so many opportunities.

“Tommy was excellent, our backline was fantastic and we had to be desperate at some points. All the credit goes to our defenders.”

In a league where it looks like anyone can beat anyone, Melbourne City stands head and shoulders above the pack early to sit four points clear on top of the ladder with a game in hand. They continue to set the standard as a powerhouse club in Australian football.

They face a tough fortnight against a much improved Western United squad and second-placed Wanderers. When asked how he keeps the players motivated week after week, Vidosic credited the club

“The culture the club has created is unbelievable,” he said.

“All the players that come in, very soon find their place in the culture. It’s a winning mentality here and I think they’re all enjoying the moments.

“There’s nothing better than winning the football games and winning the trophies. At the end of your career, you want to win as many trophies as you can, and if the club can provide that platform then why wouldn’t they enjoy every minute that they are with us?”

Melbourne returns home next week to face city-rivals Western United, who have looked like a vastly different team since the World Cup break. While Wellington travels to Sydney to take on the Sky Blues who will be hoping to jump into the top four after a 2-0 win over the Jets.

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