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Defenders stoke City's A-League fire

AAP logoAAP 6/01/2017 Ben McKay

Defence was the best form of attack for Michael Valkanis as he began his time as caretaker coach at Melbourne City with a 1-0 win over Western Sydney on Friday night.

So often at City this season it's been forwards Tim Cahill, Bruno Fornaroli or Fernando Brandan in the limelight.

But fittingly for Valkanis - a one-time Socceroo centre-back - it was the defenders that shone brightest at AAMI Park.

CIty recorded their first clean sheet since the opening weekend of the season against the Wanderers, delighting the new coach.

Right-back Ivan Franjic scored a magnificent winner, earning praise from his new boss after enduring an injury-riddled year.

"He's had his ups and downs with injuries and has worked really hard to find form and consistency," Valkanis said.

"He deservedly got a goal today and a very good goal."

The strike was Franjic's first in almost three years and a maiden goal in a City shirt.

There was praise too for the "magnificent" Michael Jakobsen, and for Jose Rose who rolled back the years.

Fellow defender Ruon Tongyik looked composed in his first win for the club, which came under a coach that, like he, switched from Adelaide to City in the off-season.

"I've known since he was 15 when he came into the (Adelaide) youth team," Valkanis said.

"We've watched him grow and he's developed under us. He's a talented defender. I don't think there are so many defenders that are so technically gifted on the ball and comfortable on the ball.

"The experience he gained playing in the three or four (City) games ... he took that pressure and played with calmness."

The downside to Tongyik's emergence was Connor Chapman's non-selection, but Valkanis said the 22-year-old hot prospect still was "a required player".

"Chappo just missed out from playing this week. It's something I can't discuss, the conversation we had, it's personal," he said.

"He's a very good defender. Especially now we're playing with four (defenders), you need the extra central defenders."

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