NPL Match Report: Western United3-3 City

Melbourne City and Western United played out a chaotic 3-3 draw at ABD Stadium in the NPL3 last night that sees both sides remain near the top of the table.  

Both Max Caputo and Western’s Nicolas Milanovic bagged braces, whilst Rhys Bozinovski and City’s Jordan Bos rounded out the scorers.

Starting XI

Petr Kratky’s side regained a trio of A-League squad regulars, with Alec Mills, Kerrin Stokes and Matthew Sutton returning to the starting lineup. Raphael Borges Rodrigues also returned, starting the game on the bench.

Anthony Lesiotis also marked his return to Melbourne City with a start in midfield, whilst Taras Gomulka again took the armband.

What happened?

It wasn’t the start the visiting City side wanted, with Western United finding the back of the net just 26 seconds after kick-off, working the ball into the box and isolating Nicolas Milanovic to finish past Matt Sutton.

The game’s next goal was perhaps even more remarkable than United’s lightning-fast start, with United keeper Charlie Emery fumbling a dangerous cross from Moonib Adus straight into the path of Max Caputo, with the ball ricocheting off the City striker’s leg and looping into the back of the net.

Following two incredible goals to start the game, the third of the encounter well and truly blew the other two out of the water in the 31st minute; as United’s Emery looked to be setting up for a goal-kick, he passed it out to his nearest defender, who interpreted the decision as an indication to pick the ball up and plant it to take the kick himself. Rightly, the referee awarded the penalty for a deliberate handball and Caputo stepped up to convert clinically.

The bizarre goals didn’t stop there either, this time to City’s detriment though. In the 39th minute, the visiting side turned the ball over directly from the throw-in, with Rhys Bozinovski capitalising to finish into the exposed right-side of Sutton’s goal.

Taras Gomulka had the chance to put City ahead in the 44th following a turnover high in United’s half, being fed through on goal by Max Caputo but ultimately unable to work his effort inside the upright.

In a poetic moment of coincidence to open the second half, City nearly flipped the script exactly 26 seconds from kick-off when Caputo rocketed his header off the crossbar following Byrns’ cross from the right.

After coming on at half-time in place of Anthony Lesiotis, Raphael Borges Rodrigues nearly made an instant impact in the 53rd when he forced a brilliant reflex save from Emery following Caputo’s cutback from the byline.

Much like the first half, both teams fought fiercely to assert control over the game, but the clash remained a hotly contested spectacle, though without result on the scoresheet to that point.

With such an unbelievable game still hanging in the balance in the 79th minute, it was going to take an equally unbelievable strike to break the deadlock and unfortunately City were on the receiving end of this moment. Following a Western United corner, the ball was cleared out to Nicolas Milanovic well outside the area, who controlled the ball down and swung his foot optimistically, with the ball rocketing past a diving Matt Sutton who could do little about the unlikely volley.

A defiant City wouldn’t be denied a point from the encounter despite the home side’s desperate defending, and the team were able to secure a last-gasp equaliser when they worked the short corner to cross in for Jordan Bos, who was able to tap the ball in from close range.

What ensued was a chaotic final five minutes, with City getting the crowd on its feet several times with some thrilling moments in the six-yard box, but the teams ultimately couldn’t be separated, with the final score line reading 3-3.

What's next?

The draw is a solid result for the City boys considering their undefeated opposition, with the side next set to host Whittlesea Ranges FC at Casey Fields in Round 7 next Sunday evening.