Melbourne City’s NPL side will be looking to bounce back from its first defeat of the 2019 NPL2 Victoria season on Saturday when they play host to Moreland Zebras in the first of NPL2’s cross-conference rounds.
A goal to striker Sam Morrison – his second in as many weeks of action – had City ahead in their encounter with Box Hill United last week, only for an unfortunate own goal from defender Mitch Graham just before half time and a second-half strike from a second-half strike from Pythagoras’ Souheil Azagane to consign Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ side to their first defeat of the season.
Despite that result, City still finds themselves in a healthy position on the league table after the season's first five weeks: sitting in the third position on the NPL2 Eastern Conference table behind second-placed Langwarrin SC and surprise conference toppers Eastern Lions.
Fourth-placed Box Hill and fifth-placed FC Bulleen Lions possess a points tally that matches City’s eight but find themselves relegated to inferior table position thanks to an inferior goal difference. Sixth-placed Northcote City sits just a point further back on seven.
Saturday's opponents Moreland Zebras will enter the weekend in the fourth position on the NPL2 Western Conference table on seven points after bouncing back from back-to-back defeats against St Albans Saints and Brunswick City with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Ballarat City last week.
Despite the comfortable nature of the final scoreline, Moreland, in fact, left it late to once and for all secure victory over their regional opponents; only leading by a single goal as the game ticked over to its final ten minutes thanks to a strike from James Papadimitriou in the games 27th minute.
One time City youth prospect Thomas Barforosh struck twice in the final ten minutes, however, securing the three points for the Zebras.
City and the Zebras last met in the eighth round of the 2018 NPL2 Victoria season; City running out 3-0 winners at CB Smith Reserve.
It was well and truly the Moudi Najjar show on that day, with the number nine scoring in the 20th, 37th and 74th minute to grab a hattrick.
Unfortunately, there will be no repeat performance from Najjar on Saturday; the youngster set to remain on the sidelines for a number of weeks after suffering an ankle injury early in the NPL season.
NPL Victoria - NPL2 Round Six
Saturday, 23 March 2019
Melbourne City FC v Moreland Zebras FC
Venue: La Trobe University (Pitch One), Bundoora, Melbourne
Kick-off: U20s – 12:30 pm | Seniors 3:00 pm