NPL Preview: City v Northcote City

Melbourne City’s senior NPL side will look to end their season on a high on Saturday when the face Northcote City in the final game of the 2019 NPL2 season.

Unfortunately for City, Saturday afternoon’s contest will serve as little more than a dead rubber; results around the NPL2 Eastern Conference last week combining with their own loss to Eastern Lions to ensure they can finish no higher than seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

With coming reforms to the NPL Victoria system in 2020 – that will see the abolishment of the conference system in place of singular tiers – it means that City will be playing in the third tier of Victorian football in 2020.

City entered their contest with the Lions last week retaining a faint hope of overhauling sixth-placed Goulburn Valley Suns and securing a place in the second-tier next year.

With the Lions looking to potentially secure promotion to the topflight with a win both sides had everything to play for headed into the contest and neither could be separated heading into the dressing rooms after the first 45 minutes.

Nevertheless, Ross Staley’s 73rd minute blow dealt a hammer blow to Head Coach Petr Kratky’s side that they could not recover from; falling to defeat and the Victorian third tier.

This week’s opponents Northcote City, conversely, have long since known that they would retain their place in the second tier in 2020: Hercules sitting in third place entering the season’s final round.

Last week, the side from John Cain Memorial Park were never challenged against the visiting Springvale White Eagles.

Taking the lead in just the fifth minute through Anthony Rizk, James Wilson proceeded to double their lead in the 35th minute for his eleventh goal of the season. Second-half goals from Mehdi Sarwari and Adrian Boglis then completed the win for the 2013 VPL Champions.

City and Hercules last met in round 11 of the 2019 NPL2 season at John Cain Memorial Park, with Northcote recording a comfortable win over the visiting City.

First-half goals to Wilson and Sarwari was then followed by a further four goals in the second – Wilson securing his brace, Asher Nelson and Jordan Ross getting on the scoresheet and City turning in an own goal – with City only able to answer back late with consolation strikes by Giovanni Stellitano and Moudi Najjar.

Ahead of Saturday afternoon’s contest – to be played at ABD Stadium in light of the Veneto Club’s unavailability – City’s U20 side will run out in the traditional curtain-raiser slot against the 20s of Northcote.

Last week, City’s 20s secured their third Conference title in four years; their win over Eastern Lions 20s sending them five points clear atop the table with just a single round remaining.

Match Details:

NPL Victoria - NPL2 Round 28
Saturday, 31 August 2019
Melbourne City FC v Northcote City FC
Venue: ABD Stadium, Westmeadows, Melbourne, Victoria
Kick-off: U20s – 1:00 pm | Seniors - 3:00 pm