NPL Preview: City v Eastern Lions

Melbourne City’s NPL side will return to action this Saturday; Head Coach Petr Kratky’s side heading to Burwood as they look to spoil Eastern Lions’ promotion party.

City also travel to Gardiners Creek Reserve this Saturday knowing that anything less than a win will all but certainly condemn them to the third tier of Victorian football in 2020 following their 6-4 defeat at the hands of Manningham United Blues.

Goals to Luke Oresti, Ramy Najjarine and Jordi Valadon had City sitting pretty at 3-0 heading into the dressing rooms after 45 minutes against the Blues, with a steadying strike from Najjarine in the 72nd minute seemingly putting a bow on their win after the Blues got goals back through Travis Chalk-Hatton and Mark Vangeli.

However, disastrously for City, a five-minute hat-trick from Manningham’s Billy Romas in the final five minutes of the 90 minutes saw their 4-2 lead metamorphosize into a 5-4 deficit.

A 93rd minute strike from Luca Presutti then sealed the unlikely, come from behind win for Manningham; putting City up against it in their quest to secure themselves a place in the top-six with just two games remaining on the season.

Heading into 2019’s penultimate round, City finds themselves four points and eight goals worth of goal difference behind sixth placed Goulburn Valley Suns – who finish their season at home against Murray United and away to FC Bulleen Lions. Following their meeting with Eastern Lions on Saturday, City will end their season against Northcote City at ABD Stadium in Broadmeadows.

The Lions head into Saturday evening’s meeting with City riding on a high; three points secured on Saturday all but certain to secure them promotion to the top-tier of Victorian football for the first time in club history.

Last week, the side of Head Coach Jimmy Williams took another step on their road to the NPL2 Eastern Conference with a 3-0 win over third-placed side Northcote City 3-1 at Gardiners Creek Reserve.

Though Hercules James Wilson opened the scoring in the ninth minutes of that contest, a brace from Ross Staley soon had the side in red ahead in that contest, before a 76th minute strike from Shaun Kenny then sealed the result.

City and Eastern Lions last met in Round nine of the 2019 NPL season at La Trobe University. On that occasion, a second-minute own goal from the Lions Matt Collier and a 70th minute goal from Australian U17 representative Yaya Dukuly guided City to the win in a game they never looked challenged in.

Ahead of Saturday's senior meeting, Melbourne City’s U20 side will meet Eastern Lions U20s in the traditional curtain raiser slot with glory on the line.

Five points ahead of second and third-placed FC Bulleen Lions and Northcote City entering the second last round of the season, a win from City’s 20s would see them secure their fourth NPL2 U20s Championship in five years.

Match Details:

NPL Victoria - NPL2 Round 27
Saturday, 31 August 2019
Melbourne City FC v Eastern Lions SC
Venue: Gardiners Creek Reserve, Sixth Avenue, Burwood, Melbourne, Victoria
Kick-off: U20s – 12:30 pm | Seniors - 3:00 pm