NPL Report: City 3-2 North Sunshine
Melbourne City FC has returned to winning ways after a character-building comeback against North Sunshine Eagles in NPL3, recording a 2-3 win on Saturday afternoon thanks to goals from Max Caputo, Daniel Lucente and Harry Politidis.
Petr Kratky rung the changes following two consecutive losses, reintroducing A-League squad regulars Raphael Borges Rodrigues, Taras Gomulka, Kerrin Stokes and Matt Sutton back into the lineup. Harry Politidis also replaced Moonib Adus on the left of the front three.
Between the cold, windy conditions and a pair of crunching tackles that saw one yellow card awarded to either team, the opening fifteen minutes didn’t make for the prettiest spectacle as both sides struggled to find success going forward.
As the chances started to accrue, it was the home team who would strike first with Daniel Dragovic putting his side in the lead with a rifled effort after the ball spilled out following City’s scuffed clearance.
The game continued to flow North Sunshine’s way with more opportunities in the ensuing minutes, before they doubled their lead in the 30th thanks to Matko Budimir who finished at close range following Matt Sutton’s initial save.
With the game now in a free-flowing state, it was City who would strike next. A brilliant individual effort from Byrns on the right culminated with a perfectly-weighted cross for Caputo to head into the bottom right corner in the 38th minute, that moment proving to be the final significant opportunity of the half.
City were needing a fast start to get back into the contest and that’s exactly what they got in the 51st with Daniel Lucente’s darting run into the six-yard box rewarded with an easy finish following a cross from the right.
Despite the gradual introduction of substitutes from either bench, the deadlocked contest was only sparingly producing shooting opportunities as the teams struggled to execute key passes inside the area.
This chance drought was broken in the 73rd with a spectacular goal from Harry Politidis, the winger volleying North Sunshine’s half-hearted clearance into the bottom corner to see City remarkably hit the front after overcoming a two-goal deficit.
The City boys had a late scare in the 88th minute from North Sunshine’s free-kick wide on the left, with the ball floated to the back post where it was headed into a tangle of bodies, eventually hitting the upright and crawling out of play for the goal-kick.
Substitute Luke Oresti then had a scuffed volley which was cleared off the line in stoppage time and followed it with a long-range strike just a few minutes later, but these would prove to be the final chances of the game, with the referee blowing his whistle to signal the win for City.
Saturday’s positive result brings City closer to the top of the table, with the team now looking to overtake Doveton SC in second place if they can beat them at Casey Fields next Sunday.