NPL Preview: Eastern Lions v City

After getting their season off to the best possible start last week, Melbourne City’s Youth will travel to Gardiner’s Creek Reserve this weekend; taking on the Eastern Lions as the 2018 NPL2 Season continues.

Braces from Lucas Portelli, Gianluca Iannucci and Moudi Najjar, as well as a solo effort from Dylan Pierias, gave City a convincing 7-2 win on the road over Nunawading last week.

A rampant City led 5-0 at half time of the contest, and it was clear early that the sharpness City had carried over from their 2017/18 Y-League season was key in overrunning a Nunawading side that at times appeared at sixes and sevens attempting to keep up with their City opponents.

The only black spot on the result was an injury to promising central defender Mitchell Graham, who suffered a head injury in a pack contesting a Nunawading cross. The young defender will be unavailable for selection for the immediate future as he recovers from the knock.

The 7-2 result means that after one round of play City sit atop the NPL2 Eastern Conference, with a goal difference of +5 three goals better than next best Langwarrin SC, the newly promoted side having defeated Box Hill United 2-0 in round one.

Other NPL2 round one results saw Springvale White Eagles defeat Moreland City 3-2, Dandenong City defeat the Goulburn Valley Suns 2-1 and this week’s opponents, the Eastern Lions, secure a 1-1 draw with Murray United.

Making the three-and-a-half-hour trip to Albury-Wodonga to face United, the Lions found themselves down 1-0 late in the contest after Tom Morrison fired the border side ahead in the 56th minute.

An 85th minute strike by the Lions Kostas Droutsas salvaged a point for the visitors however, who started their season with a 1-1 draw for the second straight year.

The Eastern Lions last year finished in sixth place on the NPL2 Eastern Conference table, eight points adrift of third placed Melbourne City and eight points clear of last placed Richmond SC.

City collected a draw and a win over the Lions in their two meetings that season, defeating the Lions 6-1 at Gardiner’s Creek in their round 4 encounter before sharing the spoils in the return leg with a 2-2 draw in round 20.

It will be a momentous day for City’s Football Academy, with this weekend set to be the first that all four sides fielded by the club will be in action.

Coming off a 3-1 win over Nunawading last week, City’s U20s will once again play in a curtain raiser for the senior match on Saturday, with kick-off set for 12.45pm.

City’s U15 and U18 squads will play their inaugural matches, both traveling to Gardiner’s Creek Reserve on Sunday to also take on the Eastern Lions, with the 15s set to kick off at 12.00pm and the 18s scheduled for a 1.30pm start.

Match Details

National Premier Leagues Victoria – NPL2 - Round 2
Eastern Lions SC v Melbourne City
Saturday, 24 February 2018
Venue: Gardiner’s Creek Reserve, Burwood, Melbourne
Kick-off: U20s – 12.45pm, Seniors – 3.15pm