NPL Preview: City v Nunawading City

Melbourne City’s senior NPL side will be looking to turn around a four-game losing run on Saturday when they host NPL2 Eastern Conference cellar dwellers Nunawading City in 16 of the NPL2 season.

Joe Palatsides’ side will head into the fixture coming off a 4-1 defeat at the hands of NPL2 Western Conference title contenders Altona Magic.

Despite going into the halftime break locked at 1-1 thanks to some outstanding play from Yasin Nur and Seb Kis, City – which fielded one of the youngest sides in its history in the clash – were unable to continue their momentum into the second half, with the Magic kicking on in the second half.

Miraculously, City’s run of four games without a win hasn’t seen them slip down the table, coming into the round still sitting in the third position on the ladder.  

There will be no room for error this weekend, however, with the fourth-placed Goulburn Valley Suns and the fifth-placed Springvale White Eagles both sitting equal on points with City at 22.

City’s healthy goal difference of +10 is the only thing keeping them above the trailing pack.

That goal difference looking so healthy is in no small part thanks to a season-opening 7-2 win over this week’s opponents in Nunawading. On that day Lucas Portelli, Moudi Najjar, Gianluca Iannucci all netted braces for City, with Dylan Pierias adding a solo effort.

Nunawading has been unable to turn their season around since that opening defeat, the side from Mahoney’s Reserve rooted to the bottom of the NPL2 Eastern Conference heading into the round, five points adrift of the second bottom Box Hill.

Nunawading comes into the weekend winless in seven fixtures, with not even the addition of former Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar standout Fahid ben Khalfallah in the recent transfer window enough to turn around their fortunes.   

Last week, Nunawading suffered a 2-0 defeat at home at the hands of the North Geelong Warriors, two first-half strikes enough to doom the hosts.

Peter Kratky’s U20 side will partake in their traditional curtain raiser prior to the senior's clash, heading into the weekend on a much better run of form than their senior counterparts.

Winners of four of their last five, City’s U20s last week defeated Altona Magic’s U20s 1-0, using a first-half strike from Sam Morrison to secure the three points.

Sitting in the third position of the NPL2 U20 Eastern Conference table, City will face a Nunawading U20s unit coming off two straight wins, last week defeating the U20s of North Geelong 2-1.

City’s younger academy sides’ both coming off convincing wins in their fixtures at home against Dandenong City last week, will once again look to defend their turf, this time against the visiting Langwarrin SC.

Simon Zappia’s U15 unit, who sit in the fifth position on the NPL U15 Eastern Conference table, will kick-off at 10.00am on Sunday at Parade College. They will then be followed by Davey van ‘t Schip’s U18 unit, currently running away with the NPL U18 Eastern Conference, who commence at 12.30.

Match Details

National Premier Leagues Victoria – NPL2 - Round 16
Melbourne City FC v Nunawading City
Saturday, 9 June 2018
Venue: La Trobe University (Pitch 1), Bundoora, Melbourne
Kick-off: U20s – 12.30pm, Seniors – 3.00pm

Photo: Dion Fountas Photograph