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Melbourne fail to close gap on leaders Sydney FC with draw against Western Sydney

Craig Noone of Melbourne City (R) celebrates with Jamie Maclaren of Melbourne City
Jamie Maclaren celebrates equaliser with teammate Craig Noone.

Melbourne City have spurned a chance to tighten their grip on second place in the A-League with a 1-1 draw against Western Sydney at AAMI Park.

Western Sydney snatched the lead through Tate Russell's first A-League goal in the 21st minute, while Jamie Maclaren equalised from the penalty spot in the 30th.

The result leaves City 10 points behind leaders Sydney FC -- though they will hold onto second place -- while the Wanderers will be at least two points outside the finals race at the end of the round.

City were forced into major changes -- Markel Susaeta replaced suspended midfielder Adrian Luna, Lachie Wales started on the wing and Harrison Delbridge deputised for Rostyn Griffiths [suspended].

City started fastest when Wales turned Craig Noone's cross wide with a diving header in the 11th minute before Western Sydney broke the deadlock with a spectacular effort.

Mitch Duke swept a delightful cross-field ball to Russell, who one-touched to Nicolai Muller, then received it back and powered home.

City equalised after Noone won a penalty when he was brought down after Wanderers goalkeeper Daniel Lopar palmed a shot away. Maclaren slammed his spot-kick down the middle to level the scores.

Wanderers striker Simon Cox spurned a gilt-edged chance to snare all three points in the 69th minute.

An errant backpass from Nathaniel Atkinson forced Curtis Good into a header which fell at the feet of Cox, whose sidefooted shot was partially blocked by goalkeeper Thomas Glover. Harrison Delbridge eventually cleared the danger.

In the 82nd minute, Noone flashed a header wide from Atkinson's cross, leaving the teams to settle for a point apiece.

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