NPL Preview: City v Ballarat City

Melbourne City will be hoping to continue the progress from their much-improved performance last week this Sunday when they make a long trip into regional Victoria to take on Ballarat City FC looking to turn around a seven-game losing streak.

Despite welcoming back Josh Cavallo, Dylan Pierias, and Moudi Najjar last week, City was unable to turn control of their fixture against the Eastern Lions into three points, with the visitors escaping La Trobe with a 3-2 win.

After a goalless opening half, Cameron Neales opened the scoring for the Lions in the 58th minute of play, ghosting unmarked to the back post and hammering in a cross from to put his side up 1-0.

A recently substituted on Dylan Pierias would drag City back into the contest; leveling only three minutes after Neales goal and then putting in a cross that Lions defender Casey Thomas could only turn into his own net in the 69th minute to give City the lead.

City would have their hearts cruelly broken late in the piece, however, when Lions substitute William Ellis netted a brace with a lucky free kick in the 86th and a fine long-range effort in the 93rd minute to put the Lions on top.

That defeat means that City’s senior NPL side has now slid further down the table and into the seventh position in the NPL2 Eastern Conference, leapfrogged by the aforementioned Eastern Lions.

The news is not all bad for City nevertheless, with only four points separating them from the third-placed Springvale White Eagles and their goal difference of +5 still the third best in the conference.

With only three points separating them from the eighth-placed Box Hill United though, the pressure will on Joe Palatsides side to turn things around when they pack into the bus to take on Ballarat.

Ballarat, for their part, comes into Saturday’s fixture mired in a bit of a form slump of their own; having only won one of their past five fixtures.

A brace from St Albans Saint Luis Covarrubias, his goals coming in the 2nd and 86th minutes, consigned Ballarat to defeat in their match last week; former Heidelberg United striker Michael Trigger’s 95th-minute goal only a consolation.

Ballarat currently sits in the eighth position on the NPL2 Western Conference, six points adrift of the seventh-placed Melbourne Victory.

In contrast to the less than ideal form of the seniors, Peter Kratky’s U20 side will enter their curtain raiser with the 20s of Ballarat flying, having recorded a 2-0 victory over the league-leading Eastern Lions last week thanks to goals from George Gerondaras and Giovanni Stellitano.

That win means that City’s 20s are undefeated in five games, their early season losing run naught but a faded memory as they continue their efforts to overhaul the league-leading Dandenong City and Eastern Lions.

The 20s of Ballarat City that they will run out against this weekend had a draw in their last fixture, a brace from Lachlan Wright and goal from Lunophare Folly securing them a 3-3 draw with the 20s of St Albans.

City’s U15 and U18 sides will both head into their fixtures this weekend off the back of putting five goals past their counterparts from NPL side Northcote City.

Kasey Bos, Adam El Hayek, Thomas Pisani, Alexander Menelaou and Zac Taweel all netted for Simon Zappia’s U15 side in their 5-2 win; while a single goal from Zac Kocankovski and braces to Jake Parish and Raphael Borges Rodrigues steered Davey van ‘t Schip’s U18 side to their 5-3 win.

City’s 15s and 18s will this week play host to the senior and 20s opponents from last week, the junior sides of the Eastern Lions paying a visit to Parade College on Sunday.

Kick-off in the 15s game is set for 10.30 am and the 18s are set to commence at 12.30.

Match Details

National Premier Leagues Victoria – NPL2 - Round 18
Ballarat City v Melbourne City
Saturday, 30 June 2018
Venue: Morshead Park Stadium - Pitch 1, Ballarat, Victoria
Kick-off: U20s – 4.00pm, Seniors – 6.00pm

Photo: Dion Fountas Photograph