NPL Preview: City v Springvale White Eagles

Melbourne City’s senior NPL side will be back in action on Saturday as they make the trip Southeast to take on Springvale White Eagles in an NPL Victoria NPL2 Eastern Conference catch-up fixture.

Initially slated to meet in early July, the fixture between City and the White Eagles was delayed to NPL Victoria’s catch-up round after several members of Head Coach Petr Kratky’s squad were handed international call-ups.

Now, in what loom as wet and wild conditions, the two sides will meet this Saturday at the Serbian Sports Centre with City desperate for three points that would keep their hopes of a top-six finish - and a place in the Victorian second tier in 2020 - on life support.

Heading into the weekend after back-to-back defeats at the hands of regional sides Goulburn Valley Suns and Ballarat City has left City nine points back of sixth-placed Manningham United Blues with just four rounds remaining on the season.

Three points against Springvale, cutting the gap between themselves and the Blues to six points, would leave Kratky’s side in a much better position to mount a challenge for the top-six ahead of their final games against Whittlesea Ranges, the aforementioned Manningham, Eastern Lions and Northcote City.

Last week, a disastrous start to a game in which City fielded the youngest starting XI in NPL Victoria history saw Ballarat race to a 2-0 lead after just five minutes when Tristan Romein and Xagai Douhadji found the back of the net.

Despite City dominating the remaining 85-minutes of play - Raphael Borges Rodrigues pulling one back to make it 2-1 in the 40th minute - they were unable to overhaul the goldfield side’s early lead, Chudiar Tharjiath taking advantage of a defensive lapse to restore his side's two-goal cushion and make it 3-1 to the visitors in the 58th minute.

Emile Peios did strike a late thunderbolt to make it interesting by reducing the deficit to one just three minutes before fulltime but it was too little too late.

Opponents Springvale White Eagles will enter Saturday afternoon’s contest desperate to reverse a run that last saw them win a game back in round 16, when they defeated Geelong SC 3-2. Since then, the White Eagles have lost five games and drawn twice on the way to falling to the bottom of the NPL2 Eastern Conference.

Last week, the White Eagles made the long trip West to take on North Geelong Warriors at Elcho Park and found themselves down 1-0 after just 14 minutes when American striker Darius Madison – playing his final game for the Warriors – found the net.

Losing captain Nebojsa Pejic in 57th minute after he collected a second yellow card, Springvale was then unable to find an equaliser as they went down to the NPL2 Western conference challengers.

Also set to be broadcast on the NPL Victoria Facebook and YouTube pages for those that cannot attend in person, City and the White Eagles will meet at 3 pm at the Serbian Sports Centre out in Keysborough; the club’s U20 sides set to meet in the traditional curtain-raiser slot at 1 pm.

City’s 20s currently lead the U20 NPL2 Eastern Conference by two points heading into their game in hand, able to give themselves a five-point buffer over second-placed Bulleen if they were their game in hand over sixth-placed Springvale.

Match Details:

NPL Victoria - NPL2 Eastern Conference Round 21
Saturday, 10 August 2019
Melbourne City FC v Springvale White Eagles FC
Venue: Serbian Sports Centre - Pitch 1, Keysborough, Melbourne, Victoria
Kick-off: U20s – 1:00 pm | Seniors - 3:00 pm