Melbourne City FC began its defence of the Foxtel National Youth League title with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Perth Glory at CB Smith Reserve on Saturday afternoon.
City made a flying start to the match when Christopher Cristaldo emphatically finished off a neat team move to open the scoring inside three minutes, as Joe Palatsides’ men dominated play in the first half.
But a resilient Perth outfit rallied in the second period, equalizing only five minutes after the restart minute when Slobodan Vulin squeezed a free-kick underneath the wall past City ‘keeper Tando Velaphi to ensure a share of the spoils.
In a frantic start to the match, Perth nearly took the lead inside the opening few seconds when striker Stefan Valentini sent a header just over the crossbar after finding himself in acres of space at the back-post.
The chance instantly sparked City into action and they would soon be ahead after only three minutes. A superb team move saw Luke Gallo cut inside and fire a cross to Cristaldo, who emphatically buried his chance past Jordan Thurtell to open the scoring.
Cristaldo was a lively presence in the final third and was within a stud length of a double inside the first ten minutes, narrowly missing a piercing cross from pacey winger Stefan Zinni.
Perth had a golden chance to level the scores in the 30th when Stefan Valentini sprung the offside trap to find himself one-one-one with Velaphi, but the striker could only steer his attempted chip straight into the ‘keeper’s arms.
Velaphi made several crucial saves to preserve City’s advantage, first atoning for handling outside the area by beating away a free-kick from Dejan Spaseski, before spreading himself superbly to deny Joseph Knowles a certain goal.
Perth made a bright start to the second half and found themselves on level terms in the 50th minute when Vulin fired his set-piece from the edge of the penalty area underneath the City wall and into the bottom corner.
Chances began to flow at either end as Velaphi rushed out quickly to smother a shot from Nikola Talimdzioski, before Zinni slid an effort against the base of the post after splitting the Glory defence with a mazing run.
Both sides continued to surge forward in search of a late winner, but could not find the breakthrough as City kicked off its title defence with a hard earned point.
Foxtel National Youth League - Round 2
Saturday, 14th November 2015
Melbourne City FC 1 (Christopher CRISTALDO 3’)
Perth Glory 1 (Slobodan VULIN 49’)
Venue: CB Smith Reserve, Fawkner
Melbourne City FC Line-up. 40. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 5. Ivan FRANJIC (Matthew MILLAR 59’), 34. Stefan ZINNI (Denis GENREAU 80’), 35. Philip PETRESKI, 37. Leo ATHANASIOU, 38. Luke GALLO (Mehdi SARWARI 66’), 39. Ali EYIGUN (C), 43. Tomislav FADLJEVIC, 44. Jordan HALL, 45. Andy KECOJEVIC, 46. Christopher CRISTALDO.
Substitutes not used: 42. Anthony CASSET (GK)
Yellow cards: Velaphi 40’, Hall 44’, Franjic 51’. Petreski 63’, Millar 80’
Perth Glory line-up: 1. Jordan THURTELL (GK), 2. Henry DURR, 3. Dejan SPASESKI, 4. Aleks SUSJNAR, 5. Ross MILLARD 6. Calvin WHITNEY, 7. Stefan VALENTINI, 8. Walieldin ISMAIL (Sam MCKEARNEN 85’), 9. Joseph KNOWLES, 10. Slobodan VULIN (C), 11. Nikola TALIMDZIOSKI,
Substitutes not-used: 20. Joel DRISCOLL (GK), 14. Hayden STEVENS, 12. Sean TROUP.
Yellow cards: Millard 7’, Susjnar 24’
Red cards: nil