NPL Preview: Whittlesea Ranges FC v City

Melbourne City’s NPL side will aim to continue their early season momentum and make it five wins in five games as they return to Epping Stadium to face NPL2 West foes Whittlesea Ranges FC in Round 8 of the PS4 NPL2 season.

City’s fourth win in four matches has seen them retain second place on the NPL2 East table, three points clear of third-placed Eastern Lions SC, with 14 out of a possible 21 points and only one point behind league leaders Dandenong City SC, who travel to Fawkner to take on Moreland City.  

City showed their mettle as a team last week, shrugging off early injuries to Ahmed Yusuf and Nathanial Atkinson. An early one-goal deficit was turned into a three-goal second half as they overran hosts Springvale White Eagles to a 3-1 finish in a performance Coach Patrick Kisnorbo said controlled the game “from minute one until the end". Coming off the bench to replace the injured Yusuf, Gerrie Sylaidos scored, bringing his team-leading season tally up to five and continuing his early season run of good form.

The 3-1 scoreline means that City have scored an impressive 17 goals over their past four matches, a higher number than the season long totals of all but league leaders Dandenong City SC in the NPL 2 East, for a total of 21 on the season.

Combined with a solid defence, which has conceded only 10 goals so far - the third-stingiest defence in the NPL2East - City possess the leading goal difference in the conference of +11.  

Sitting sixth on the NPL2bWest table, opponents Whittlesea Ranges may present the toughest test for City’s high powered attack so far this season, having conceded only five goals in seven matches.

Having had his playing stocks raided after coming agonisingly close to promotion last season, Coach Vinko Buljubasic, - himself a former two time NSL champion with the Melbourne Knights - has put together another strong side for the 2017 campaign, with new additions such as shotstopper Phil Petrovski and Brazilian defender Janiel Silva having an immediate impact.

Whittlesea will come into the match keen to return to their winning ways, having seen their own early season run of three wins on the trot ended with a 2-1 defeat to State League side Banyule City SC in the fourth preliminary round of the Westfield FFA Cup and a 2-1 defeat to NPL2 West leaders Northcote City FC in the NPL.

The City-Whittlesea encounter will kick off at 3:00pm at Epping Stadium, with the U20’s meeting in a curtain raiser beginning at 12.30pm.

Match Details
NPL Victoria - Round 8
Whittlesea Ranges FC vs Melbourne City
Saturday 01 April
Epping Stadium, Epping
Seniors: 3.00pm Under 20’s: 12.30pm
Entry at gate prices