NPL Preview: City v Box Hill United

Melbourne City’s NPL side will be looking to make it five games without defeat this Saturday evening when they welcome NPL2 Eastern Conference foes Box Hill United to the Veneto Club.

Afforded a postponement of their round 21 clash with Springvale White Eagles after a number of players were called up for international duty, City last took the field in round 20 of the NPL2 Victoria season when they played out a 2-2 draw with promotion hopefuls FC Bulleen Lions.

Despite being reduced to ten men in the 39th minute of the encounter after left-back Mark Karlic saw red, City took a 1-0 lead into halftime  after A-League capped Ramy Najjarine cut the ball inside from his position on the right flank and curled a gorgeous left-footed effort inside the far post.

Despite being pegged back to 1-1 thanks to a strike from Bulleen’s Ben Everson, City was able to overcome their numerical disadvantage and reclaim the lead in the 73rd minute of proceedings when Moudi Najjar ran onto a ball played in behind the defence and slid an effort home.

City, however, could not sustain their unlikely lead and just four minutes later the Lions once again went level when Everson struck for the second time.

Forced to stage a desperate rear-guard action as their numerically superior foes pushed for a winner, City was nonetheless able to hold firm and come away with a point.

That result means that City sits in the seventh position on the NPL2 Eastern Conference table heading into round 22, nine points back of sixth-placed Goulburn Valley Suns.

Set to meet the Suns next week and with a game in hand on their regional rivals, however, City is well placed to make a push for the top six and ensure they retain a place in the second tier of Victorian football after this coming offseason’s reforms.

Opponents Box Hill United enter Saturday evenings fixture off the back of a 3-1 defeat at the hands of derby rival Eastern Lions in round 22.

Down 1-0 entering the second half after a goal from the Lions’ Ziggy Razuki, Box Hill were able to drag themselves back into that contest in miraculous fashion when defender Dennis Nielsen stole a Lions pass forward and drilled an effort from his own half over the head of goalkeeper Keagan Coulter and into the back of the net.

Pythagoras, however, could not use that worldie to propel themselves onto greater things as the Lions Kostas Droutsas bagged a second-half double to ensure his side took all three points from Wembley Park and consigned Box Hill to their fifth straight defeat.

City and Box Hill last met in round five of the 2019 season at Pythagoras’ home patch. Fielding a side without A-League prospects Najjarine, Najjar and Metcalfe; City took the lead in the 19th minute of that contest only to cough up an equaliser in the 38th minute after a Mitch Graham own goal.

In warm conditions, Box Hill’s Souheil Azagane then popped up to hammer a ball home in the 55th minute to ensure his side secured all three points.

City and Box Hill’s senior NPL sides will meet at 6:00 pm this Saturday at David Barro Stadium at the Veneto Club. Beforehand, City’s top of the table U20s side will look to continue their strong run of form going as they clash with fourth-placed Box Hill United from 4:00 pm.

Match Details:

NPL Victoria - NPL2 Round 22
Saturday, 20 July 2019
Melbourne City FC v Box Hill United
Venue: David Barro Stadium, Veneto Club, Bulleen, Melbourne
Kick-off: U20s – 4:00 pm | Seniors 6:00 pm