NPL Preview: Youth Melbourne Derby

Melbourne City’s NPL side will be looking to bounce back from two successive defeats on Saturday when they welcome the NPL side of Melbourne Victory as the Youth Melbourne Derby is re-ignited.

City comes into the contest having last week suffered a 3-1 road defeat at the hands of Eastern Conference foes Langwarrin SC.

The two sides went into the halftime break locked at one goal apiece, Mat Luak opening the scoring for Langwarrin in the 26th minute before Yusuf Ahmed immediately evened things up for City in the 28th minute.

Langwarrin broke away in a dominating second half however, Johnny Kuol netting a brace for the hosts with goals in the 46th and 83rd minutes to seal the victory.

With the results elsewhere in the NPL2s Eastern Conference, the defeated didn’t condemn City to lose the third position on the ladder that they entered the round with, however, it did make their position more precarious.

Just three points separate City from the sixth-placed Goulburn Valley Suns, with the fourth-placed Springvale White Eagles only a point adrift of Joe Palatsides’ side and fifth-placed Langwarrin two.

Melbourne Victory will come into this week’s derby with two wins on the bounce, having followed up their 3-0 win over Murray United a fortnight ago with a 2-1 defeat of Sunshine George Cross SC last week.

Jack Palazzolo opened the scoring for Gareth Naven’s side in that triumph over Sunshine last week, leveling in the 22nd minute after Sunshine had opened the scoring in the 4th minute. Birkan Kirdar – who debuted for Victory’s A-League side as a 16-year-old in this year’s Asian Champions League – would then grab a late winner, putting the Victory ahead with a goal in the 92nd minute to secure his group the three points.

That win vaulted Victory into fifth position on the NPL2 Western Conference table, only six points behind the conference-leading Moreland Zebras.

City and the Victory youth teams last met in the 2017/18 Y-League season, where they split the season series at one apiece. The first meeting took place at Lakeside Stadium, where City recorded a 9-2 demolishing of their darker-hued foes, with Socceroo Daniel Arzani getting on the scoresheet, in round three of the season. The Victory would then win the re-match at Epping Stadium, defeating a City side that was resting a number of players and that had already qualified for the Y-League Grand Final 2-1 in round nine of the season.

Peter Kratky’s U20 side will also be looking to bounce back from their defeat to Langwarrin in the curtain raiser to the senior clash, meeting a Victory U20s group that had a 4-2 triumph in their match last week.

City’s U20s sit in fourth place on the NPL2 U20 Eastern Conference heading into the clash, sitting on seven wins, zero draws and six losses, whilst the Victory sits in fifth place on the NPL2 U20 Western Conference prior to the contest, with five wins, four draws and four losses to their name.

After a successful week for City’s junior sides, including a dominating win by Davey van ‘t Schip’s U18 side, they will head to Mahoney’s Reserve to take on the junior sides of Nunawading City.

City’s U15 side, which sits in fifth position on the NPL 15 Eastern Conference table with eight wins, no draws and four losses will kick off their clash with their 14th placed rivals at 10.00am on Saturday morning.

City’s U18s, who sit atop the NPL U18 Eastern Conference with ten wins, zero draws and two losses, will then follow in the afternoon, clashing with the 14th placed U18s of Nunawading at 2:00 pm on Saturday.

Match Details

National Premier Leagues Victoria – NPL2 - Round 14
Melbourne City FC v Melbourne Victory FC
Saturday, 26 May 2018
Venue: La Trobe University (Pitch One), Langwarrin South
Kick-off: U20s – 12.30pm, Seniors – 3.00pm

Photo: Dion Fountas Photograph