It had been coming for a number of weeks and, on Saturday evening, Melbourne City’s NPL side was finally able to get back on the winner's list; recording their first win in nine weeks after a comprehensive 5-1 dispatching of NPL2 Western Conference side Brunswick City at the Veneto Club.
Though Brunswick’s Japanese import Riki Hosoai put his side ahead after just five minutes on a chilly night in Bulleen, City was able to quickly respond: Moudi Najjar firing the side back level two minutes later.
Having set up Najjar’s first, Ramy Najjarine then flexed his muscle in firing in a free kick and penalty to send City into the dressing room at half time up 3-1.
After weathering a brief period of resistance from The Spartans to beging the second half, an 80th minute goal from Connor Metcalfe served to put the result beyond any shadow of a doubt, before Najjar struck with just seconds remaining to put a bow on proceedings.
The result means that City will have dragged themselves up of the bottom of the NPL2 Eastern Conference table following round 19; with Springvale White Eagles set to replace them at the ladder’s foot.
After much upheaval in recent months, Head Coach Petr Kratky was able to field a remarkably stable line-up for the visit from Brunswick.
The City gaffer made only one change to the line-up that drew with border side Murray Untied the week prior; Bradley Chick taking up a position on the right side of the defence and Dalibor Markovic heading to the bench.
Though proceedings would ultimately turn out very well for City, the game got off to a disastrous start for Kratky’s side when a turnover just outside City’s box forced by Brunswick’s high press fell to the feet of Hosoai.
Advancing into the area, the big man proceeded to fire a low effort past goalkeeper to Ahmad Taleb to give his side an early lead.
Just two minutes later, however, scores were once again even when City worked the ball from the left to the right and eventually played the ball into Metcalfe in the middle.
Lacing a ball down the right flank, Metcalfe was, in turn, able to spring Najjarine into some space that enabled him to send a low ball into the box for Najjar to poke him with a first time effort.
Both sides would have further changes to take the lead following the furious beginning to the contest, Emile Peios forcing a save from Sebastian Mattei in the 19th minute and Hosoai stinging the gloves of Taleb in the 22nd, but it was City that eventually landed the next punch in the 25th.
Stepping up to take a centrally located free kick at a perfect distance to shoot from, Najjarine fired in a left footed free kick in on goal that a desperately diving Mattei barley got a hand on. Despite the gloveman's best efforts, though, his faint touch proved insufficient to prevent the goal; the ball gently rolling over the line to make it 2-1.
Four minutes later it was 3-1 from another Najjarine set piece; this time the winger stepping up to hammer a penalty into the back of the net to give his side a comfortable two-goal cushion.
Coming into the game having knocked off Western Conference leaders Werribee City leaders the week prior, The Spartans attempted to regroup in the rooms when the halftime whistle eventually sounded and even appeared capable of threatening in the second 45 when play resumed.
Able to put together a series of chances highlighted by Kobe Timms, Darby Dexter and Atay Ibrahim all having headed efforts from corners in the 54th, 71st and 74th minutes of play; the 50-50 arm wrestle that played out in the opening half an hour of the second proved the visitors best period of the game.
City, though, was able to wrest control the game firmly back into their favour as the second stanza progressed, with Metcalfe driving a dagger into any feint hopes Brunswick had in the 80th minute when he perfectly timed his run to get on the end of a gorgeous pass through the Spartan defensive line from Najjar.
Spying Mattei flying out to charge him down as he moved onto the ball, Metcalfe coolly poked an effort beyond the Brunswick keeper, wheeling away and celebrating by falling to the turf in (somewhat) mock exhaustion as the ball rolled over the goal line.
Najjarine almost had his third just three minutes later when he lined up an effort from outside the area that Mattei forced sidewards onto the post. Despite it bouncing off the inside of the upright, the ball teasingly rolled along the goal line without actually crossing the line; denying the City winger his prize.
Najjar, however, was not going to be denied his second in the dying stages of extra time when he got in behind the visitors defence and fired off a shot into the bottom corner of the net for his eighth goal of the season.