NPL Preview: City vs Eastern Lions SC

After getting their first win in six games with a dominating six goal win, City will return to LaTrobe for their third home game in a row on Sunday when they take on Eastern Lions SC.

Last week’s game against NPL2 Western Conference Celle dwellers Bendigo City may be just the medicine City needed after a recent bad run of form – with the 8-2 score line serving as a reminder to the NPL2 of the firepower that has been stockpiled at the City Football Academy.

Lucas Derrick netted a hattrick in the win over Bendigo and his recent run of good form bodes well for a City side that is seeking to overhaul the two Dandenong sides, Dandenong City in first and the Dandenong Thunder in second, in the two promotion places at the top of the NPL2 Eastern table.

City sit six points behind the Thunder and 11 points behind Dandenong City with eight games to close the gap – however the two Dandenong sides both possess a game in hand on City with both having nine games left to play, albeit with that extra game to be played against each other.

Also getting on the scoresheet against Bendigo was Austin Wong – who scored a brace in the encounter. Wong has battled injuries during both the Foxtel National Youth League season and the preliminary stages of the PS4 NPL2 season but has overcome them to become an important part of City’s efforts as the season progresses.

The central midfielder has shown a knack for popping up and scoring at the exact moment City need one and some of his long-range efforts are a true sight to behold.

This week’s game will also be the NPL sides first competitive fixture since the arrival of Warren Joyce as the head coach of Melbourne City’s Hyundai A-League side.

The former Manchester United youth’s boss ethos of youth development and “it’s who does things best regardless of the age" – and the opportunities such a mindset offers young footballers within the City system - will no doubt be at the forefront of the minds of the City youth boys as they take the field.

City last met the Eastern Lions in round 4 of the campaign at the Lion’s home ground Gardiners Creek Reserve. Goals to Jaiden Madafferi, Daniel Arzani, Gerrie Sylaidos, Connor Metcalfe, Ali Eyigun and Nathanial Atkinson saw City run out six nil victors and begin a run of four straight wins.

The Lions have struggled to gain traction during this season and currently sit at the foot of the Eastern Conference table on 16 points with a goal difference of -17.

Their round 19 game saw them suffer a heavy four goals to nil home defeat the hands of Ballarat City (A team City beat one goal to nil)

The Lions goal difference of -17 has come by way of conceding 44 goals so far this season – meaning that the game provides City with one of their best remaining chances of boosting their +15 goals difference that sits back of the league leading Thunder’s +21 and Dandenong City’s +29.

The two sides will meet on Pitch One at LaTrobe University in Bundoora at City’s regular home kick-off time of 3:00pm – with City and the Lions’ U20 sides to play a curtain raiser from 12:30.

City’s U20 will be looking to extend their amazing run of form that has seen them open up a nine-point lead atop the U20 NPL2 Eastern Conference table against a Lions’ side that sits in sixth position.

Match Details: 
NPL Victoria - Round 20  
Melbourne City vs Easter Lions SC   
Sunday 25 June, 2017 
LaTrobe University (Pitch One), Bundoora  
Seniors: 3pm Under 20’s: 12.30pm
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