City’s NPL side will be looking to make it two wins in two weeks on Saturday when they host PS4 NPL2 Eastern Conference foes the Goulburn Valley Suns in round 24 of the season.
City enter the game having last week arrested a form slump that had seen them go a month without a victory – securing a five goals to two victory over the Springvale White Eagles on a freezing day at LaTrobe.
Braces by John Roberts – his first goals in a City shirt since joining City from the FFA’s Centre of Excellence in Canberra – and Zachary Bates, as well as a late strike from Josh Cavallo did the damage for City who dominated the visiting Springvale side for much of the 90 minutes.
It was a successful week for Roberts, who was also one of three City young guns – the other two being Connor Metcalfe and Ramy Najjarine – to sign senior contracts with the Melbourne City A-League side.
The three join Denis Genreau, Dylan Pierias and James Delianov as City’s senior contracted players on the A-League’s Scholarship program – with the program allowing each A-League side to sign up to six players from it’s Foxtel National Youth League side to senior contracts.
With the fourth placed Murray United suffering a three goals to one defeat at the hands of the Dandenong Thunder and the fifth placed Goulburn Valley Suns playing out a one goal apiece draw with the Eastern Lions in other round 23 games third placed City have put some distance between themselves and the trailing pack on the Eastern Conference table.
City (34pts - +16gd) sit four points clear of United (30pts - +4gd) and five points clear of the Suns (29pts - +0gd), with 15 points still available in the five remaining games.
Looking ahead to the Suns game after the win over Springvale, City youth boss Joe Palatsides emphasised the importance of the clash and his desire to see his young charges continue to pick up wins:
“We always try to win. Some people say it’s a development squad – and it is – our aim is to get these boys into the A-League it’s our sole goal. However, part of their development is winning games and grinding out results and we probably haven’t done that well enough over the past ten weeks – we haven’t won that many games – so I see it [NPL wins] as an important part of development.”
“It will be good because all of those top of the table clashes are were you see the players stand up and make sure they can perform under pressure. Goulburn Valley’s had a good year but we’ll probably back ourselves to get a result”
The Suns come into the clash having only won one game in their past six, drawing three and losing twice.
This week’s game looms as a season defining clash for the Suns – with games against both Dandenong sides still to come in the season likely meaning that anything less than three points this week would likely doom any hopes the Suns have of improving their current fifth position on the table by the end of the season.
The game will take place on Pitch One at LaTrobe University, Bundoora – with kick-off set for 3pm. The two sides U-20 sides will clash in a curtain raiser beforehand – with kick-off in that game set for 12:30 pm.
NPL Victoria - Round 24
Melbourne City vs Goulburn Valley Suns FC
Saturday 22 July, 2017
LaTrobe University (Pitch One), Bundoora
Seniors: 3pm Under 20’s: 12.30pm