NPL Preview: City v Goulburn Valley Suns

Melbourne City’s NPL side will undertake one of the longest away days of its season on Saturday, heading northward to take on the Goulburn Valley Suns in an NPL2 Eastern Conference clash.  

City bounced back from a mixed run of form to record their first win since June last Saturday, defeating NPL2 Western Conference side St Albans Saints 1-0 at La Trobe University.

The result means that City sits in the fifth position on the NPL2 Eastern Conference table heading into Round 25; only a point behind this week’s opponents. Furthermore, City possesses a game in hand on their rivals for the fourth position, with a game to come against Springvale White Eagles in NPL Victoria’s catch up round to come.

The Suns will enter this week's contest on a three-game losing run, having last tasted victory when they defeated relegation bound Nunawading City 8-0 back in round 21. Since that result, the Suns have drawn with Box Hill United and suffered back to back defeats at the hands of St Albans Saints and Moreland Zebras, leaving their fourth position vulnerable to a lurking City.

A 50th-minute strike from Daniel Petrov opened the scoring for the Zebras in their clash with the Suns last week, before Alec Goodwin then made it 2-0 in the 77th minute. Craig Carley would grab a late consolation goal for the Suns when he struck in the 92nd minute, securing his 15th goal of the season.

City and the Suns last met back in round five of the 2018 season, with City running out heavy 6-1 winners as Gianluca Iannucci and Moudi Najjar both netted hattricks.

City’s U20s will partake in their traditional curtain raiser prior to the senior contest at the newly renovated John McEwan Reserve, looking to back up the comprehensive, 3-0 win over St Albans they recorded last week.

Bradley Chick opened the scoring for City’s U20s in the 11th minute of last week’s contest, before Sam Morrison and Yaya Dukuly sealed the game with strikes in the 37th and 63rd minutes.

That win means that City’s U20s have now strengthened their hold in the third position on the U20 NPL2 Eastern Conference table, possessing a game in hand over their pursuers for a top three finish.

That game in hand will come against Springvale White Eagles, who sit a point above City in second on the table.

The Suns U20s, unlike their seniors, will head into Saturday’s contest with City coming off a win; defeating Moreland Zebras 3-2 in their last hit out.

It was a mixed time for City’s other academy sides last weekend, Simon Zappia’s U15s suffering 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Oakleigh Cannons whilst the U18s of Davey van ‘t Schip earned 2-1 win over the Cannons.

City’s U15s found themselves down after only three minutes of play against the Cannons, Murtaza Hassan putting the Southeastern side ahead early. Connor Goumas would then make it 2-0 to the Cannons in the 26th minute of play, with Max Caputo pegging one back for City in the 34th minute.

City’s hopes of staging a comeback were soon dashed after the second half resumed, however, when Toli Caimakamis -Pagonis, Alexander Vranesevic and Hassan all scored early to give the Cannons a comprehensive, 5-1 lead.  

Giorgio Serdenes and Caputo were able to go some way in making the scoreline look more respectable for City as time wound down, but were unable to spark a miracle come-from-behind result.

That result means that City’s U15s will head into this weekends fixture against Port Melbourne in 6th position on the U15 NPL Eastern Conference table.

Conversely, a brace from Thomas Pisani ensured that they never trailed in their fixture against the Cannons last week, leading 2-0 when William Zontanos scored in the 83rd minute for the Cannons to make the final few minutes interesting.

The result means that City has kept pace with league-leading Bulleen Lions in the race for the U18 NPL East title, behind their local rivals only on goal difference as the season winds down.

City’s U15s will meet Port Melbourne at JL Murphy Reserve at 1:00 pm this Sunday, with the U18s to follow at 2:30 pm.

Match Details

National Premier Leagues Victoria – NPL2 - Round 25
Goulburn Valley Suns v Melbourne City FC
Saturday, 11 August 2018
Venue: John McEwen Reserve - Pitch 1, Shepparton, Victoria
Kick-off: U20s – 5.00pm, Seniors – 7.00pm

Photo: Dion Fountas Photography