City must rectify defensive frailties: Kisnorbo

If Melbourne City miss out on the Hyundai A-League Premier’s Plate this season, their ability to defend will undoubtedly be blamed but captain Patrick Kisnorbo insists the team can still get it right down back.

City could have gone top of the A-League table last week but suffered a shock 2-1 loss away to Wellington Phoenix, with the hosts’ makeshift front two of Louis Fenton and Matthew Ridenton both scoring in the opening 15 minutes.

The defeat left City six points adrift of leaders Western Sydney Wanderers by the end of the weekend with just six matches remaining before finals.

Kisnorbo, who led City’s defence alongside Alex Wilkinson against the Phoenix, conceded his team’s “defensive structure” could cost them silverware.

City have the worst defensive record – 38 goals conceded in 21 games – of any side in the A-League’s top six.

“You can say that. Obviously the statistics show that our defensive structure hasn’t been the best this year, but I think it’s something that we can rectify,” he said on Wednesday.

Melbourne City captain Patrick Kisnorbo rues a missed chance.

“It is a problem but it’s just the little things that are the difference, and if we can get on top of them this week, hopefully that puts us in a good stead for the following games to come.”

Kisnorbo added that City are focusing on “fixing the mistakes” this week ahead of Saturday night’s clash with Sydney FC.

A win could take fourth-placed City as high as second in the A-League table, depending on other results, while a loss could see them drop to sixth.

“I don’t think there was any issue [versus Wellington],” the skipper said.

“It was two lapses of concentration… and we got punished. You know, it doesn’t matter what teams you play against or where they are in the league, at the end of the day, they’re all quality and they can punish you at any time.

City star Aaron Mooy fights for the ball with Phoenix midfielder Albert Riera.

“For 80 minutes, we pretty much controlled the game.”

City will have Harry Novillo available for selection against Sydney, with the winger having completed his two-match club-imposed suspension over the weekend.

On Monday, Novillo trained with John van ‘t Schip’s squad for the first time in a fortnight, with the French attacker having been punished by City for breaching Football Federation Australia’s National Code of Conduct.

“He’s [Novillo] come back and he’s been fantastic, so at the end of the day, the coach picks the team,” Kisnorbo said.

Harry Novillo celebrates with Bruno Fornaroli after scoring against the Wanderers.

“It’s just great to have Harry back amongst the players.”