NPL Preview: City v Altona Magic SC

In the midst of a three-game winless run, Melbourne City’s NPL side will look to right the ship this weekend, when they travel to Paisley Park to take on NPL2 Western Conference foes Altona Magic in Saturday night football.

City will come into Saturday night’s blockbuster looking to shake off their comprehensive 5-1 defeat at the hands of traditional rivals Melbourne Victory in last week’s Youth Melbourne Derby.

Despite opening the scoring through Marko Delic in the game’s 12th minute, City went into the halftime break locked at a goal apiece after Birkan Kirdar leveled for the visiting Victory in the 26th minute.

Unable to match the energy of their darker-hued foes, City were then overrun in the game’s second 45, Brandon Lauton and Jack Palazzolo both netting braces as Joe Palatsides’ group suffered their heaviest defeat of the season.

Despite the run of three straight defeats, City retains third place on the NPL2 Eastern Conference table heading into round 15, their healthy goal difference of +13 keeping them above Springvale White Eagles, who moved equal on points with City after round 14.

The top two also remain within touching distance despite City’s form skid, with the top placed Moreland City and second-placed Dandenong City only eight points clear of City with 14 rounds remaining on the season.

This week’s opponents the Magic sit in second place of the highly competitive NPL2 Western Conference table heading into this week’s battle, with their eight wins, two draws and four defeats good enough for 26 points, only one point adrift of the top placed Moreland Zebras.

The Magic’s eight wins also lead the Western Conference, with only Moreland City and Dandenong City possessing more triumphs in the NPL2.

The Magic last week recorded a narrow 1-0 win over the Eastern conference’s Goulburn Valley Suns, thanks to a 23rd-minute goal from former St Mirren youth player Jon McShane.

The ambitious Magic, who were only promoted to the NPL2 from the State Leagues this year, features a number of established NPL veterans such as Ben Liftin, Mark Pistininzi and Troy Ruthven amongst their ranks, and were knocked out of the FFA Cup midweek by NPL side Northcote City.

Peter Kratky’s U20 group will kick-off at 4.30 in the curtain raiser to Saturday night’s senior match, looking to back up their 3-1 win over Melbourne Victory’s U20s.

City’s U20s sit in third position on the NPL2 U20 Eastern Conference table heading into the contest, nine points adrift of league-leaders Springvale White Eagles, whilst the Altona Magic enter the fixture sitting in fourth position on the NPL2 U20 Western Conference Table, with six wins, two draws and five losses so far this season.

City’s junior sides will be looking to follow up last week’s triumphs over Nunawading City in their weekend fixtures, with Simon Zappia’s U15s and Davey van ‘t Schip’s U18s welcoming Dandenong City to La Trobe University on Sunday.

The U15s, who will kick-off at 10.30, triumphed 2-0 in their clash with Nunawading last and sit in the fifth position on the NPL U15 Eastern conference heading into this round’s fixture. The visiting U15s of Dandenong Thunder occupy 12th position on the table on the ladder coming into the contest, last week suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Langwarrin SC.

Kicking off at 12.30 will be van ‘t Schip’s U18 squad, who recorded a staggering 9-1 win over Nunawading in their contest last week. Sitting atop the NPL U18 Eastern Conference heading into the round’s play, they will welcome a Dandenong City side that resides in the eighth position on the table, having defeated Langwarrin SC 5-1 in their match last week.

Match Details

National Premier Leagues Victoria – NPL2 - Round 15
Altona Magic SC v Melbourne City FC
Saturday, 2 June 2018
Venue: Paisley Park (Pitch 1), Altona North, Melbourne
Kick-off: U20s – 4.30pm, Seniors – 6.30pm

Photo: Dion Fountas Photograph