Difficult weather conditions and a spirited North Sunshine Eagles outfit made for a testing day at the office for Melbourne City FC, but the resilient group were eventually able to overcome their opposition and run out 4-2 victors.
Taras Gomulka opened proceedings with a brilliant free-kick, whilst Stefan Colakovski, Raphael Borges Rodrigues, and Max Caputo also got their names on the scoresheet.
Petr Kratky made just the one change heading into the game, with Max Caputo coming in to the starting lineup.
Despite playing a considerable part in Saturday’s A-League game against Sydney FC, both Stefan Colakovski and Marco Tilio backed up to play against North Sunshine in Sunday’s NPL clash.
It wasn’t the best of starts for City, with an early foul conceded inside the area leaving referee Maximillian Hanlon no choice but to award the spot-kick, and it was converted comfortably by the Eagles’ Nick Epifano.
City were quick to equalise, with Marco Tilio earning a free-kick that was powered into the back of the net by Taras Gomulka.
With the weather seemingly in a constant state of flux – bucketing down one minute and sunny the next – the pitch was kept slick, with through-balls intended for pacey attackers instead claimed comfortably by either goalkeeper.
It was Tilio who again made things happen for City’s second goal which came in the 21st minute, slaloming past defenders and into the box from a wide angle, the ball eventually spilling out to the feet of Colakovski for the easy finish.
North Sunshine kept pushing though, and came awfully close to levelling the scores in the 29th with Jordon Bos unable to prevent the low shot which rocketed narrowly past the upright.
Nick Epifano again proved a thorn in City’s side when he netted in the 32nd, placing his right-footed shot across Matt Sutton and into the bottom corner to equalise for the Eagles.
A see-sawing remainder of the first half saw both teams create chances, though neither side could force a big enough opening to alter the scoreline, which was locked at 2-2 heading into the break.
City made a much stronger start to the second-half, creating three great one-on-one chances within the first five minutes. Max Caputo’s shot trailed narrowly wide, Raphael Borges Rodrigues rounded the keeper but fired into the crossbar, and Lucas Byrns – having replaced Colakovski at half-time – had his on-target shot well-saved.
City’s burst out of the blocks early was an indicator of things to come, with the home side able to dominate the ball more and force a greater share of shooting opportunities.
This controlled possession paid off in the 71st, when an opening in the North Sunshine defence enabled a ball to be played over the top to Borges Rodrigues, who finished calmly past the keeper.
Once City went ahead for a third time, it was largely all one-way traffic, with the team earning a penalty in the 78th which was dispatched clinically by Max Caputo.
Lucas Byrns had a great opportunity to score a fifth for City in the 88th minute when he found himself in a one-on-one with the Eagles keeper and chipped deftly, only for the ball to strike the outside of the upright, this being the final major chance of the game.
After three games, City’s NPL 3 side have recorded two wins and one loss and will next travel to Doveton in Round 4.