NPL Preview: City v St Albans Saints

Melbourne City’s NPL side will return to action this Saturday looking to get back to their winning ways when they take on NPL2 Western Conference powers St Albans Saints on Saturday afternoon.

Despite a promising start, seizing most of the chances in the first half, City went down 2-0 against NPL2 Western Conference side Werribee City FC last week; Dion Paola and Carlin Feely grabbing goals for the Bees as the second half waned to secure the three points.

That result means that City has suffered defeat in their past four games on the season, their last victory coming back on 13 April against NPL2 Eastern Conference table toppers Eastern Lions.

The poor run of form means that City has fallen to the seventh position on the NPL2 Eastern Conference table heading into round fourteen of the season.

But, with the coming round being cross-conference in nature as sides from the East play the West, a win over St Albans on Saturday could theoretically see City rise as high as fifth on the table, though whilst a defeat could potentially see the side crash to the bottom position on the table.

In contrast, Saturday’s opponents St Albans come into Saturday’s contest in a rich vein of form; having recently overhauled Werribee City to go top of the NPL2 Western Conference.

The Saints, who are in their second season back in the NPL2 system after being relegated from the NPL at the end of the 2017 season, dispatched Eastern Conference opponents Box Hill last week to remain a step ahead of the Bees.

With scores still locked at 0-0 headed past the hour mark at Churchill Reserve, it initially appeared as though St Albans would be forced to share the spoils with Pythagoras, only for Marko Bagaric to prove his side’s saviour when he struck in the 68th and 86th minutes to snatch the win.

With a healthy goal difference, it’s highly unlikely that the Saints will fall out of the Western Conference’s top two should they taste defeat on Saturday but, locked in a fierce battle with Werribee for top spot and the automatic promotion place that goes with it, will give no quarter to City when the two run out on Churchill Reserve.

City and St Albans last meet at the tail end of the 2018 NPL2 season, clashing in round 24 of the campaign at La Trobe University.

Fielding a line-up remarkably similar to the one they will likely run out this Saturday, City was able to take all three points on that occasion thanks to a 39th-minute strike from Ramy Najjarine.

Match Details:

NPL Victoria - NPL2 Round Fourteen 
Saturday, 25 May 2019
Melbourne City FC v St Albans Saints 
Venue: Churchill Reserve, St Albans, Melbourne, Victoria
Kick-off: U20s – 12:30pm | Seniors 3:00pm