NPL Report: City 5-2 North Geelong

Melbourne City FC continued its unbeaten start to the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues 2 West campaign with a dominant 5-2 win over North Geelong Warriors on Saturday afternoon.

In the Club’s first ever home match at the City Football Academy in Melbourne, goals to Austin Wong, Stefan Zinni and Cristopher Cristaldo saw City race to a 3-0 lead, with Joe Palatisdes’ side controlling play from the first whistle against a robust North Geelong side.

A spirited Warriors outfit pulled themselves back into the contest when Matt Townley fired home from the penalty spot to make it 3-1, but any hopes of a comeback were extinguished almost instantly when Cristaldo finished off a swift City counter-attack to complete his double.

The goals continued to flow when Michael Anderson’s 75th minute toe-poke was cancelled out immediately by a neat header from City substitute Giuseppe Marafioti, as the Club continued its impressive start to the NPL 2 West campaign.

With only goal difference separating both sides on the league table, it was City who stamped its authority on the contest with an energetic first-half display.

Yusuf Ahmed was causing havoc on the right hand side with a series of electric runs, but will wonder how he didn’t open the scoring in the 10th minute, lashing a blistering effort which cannoned off both posts and into the arms of a grateful Daniel Zilic.

City were firmly entrenched in North Geelong’s defensive third but couldn’t apply the finishing touches in attack, with Zinni and Denis Genreau both blazing decent opportunities wide of the target.

But the pressure eventually took its toll as City took a deserved lead in the 20th minute. A neat move saw the pacey Ahmed find himself clean through on goal, but his effort was denied by the feet of Zilic.

The goalkeeper then rose quickly to superbly block Cristaldo’s follow-up, only for Wong to fire home at the third attempt to give his side a 1-0 lead.

Palatisdes’ side were bullish in the final third and managed to double the advantage only ten minutes later, with Zinni reacting quickest to fire home the rebound after Zilic made a brilliant reaction save from Ahmed’s deflected shot.

The visitors squandered a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit on the stroke of half-time when Michael Anderson found himself unmarked in the penalty area, but the striker could only direct his free header straight at City keeper James Delianov.

City picked up from where they left off in the second period and were coasting to a comfortable win in the 58th minute, with Cristaldo smashing home a blistering effort past Zilic at the near post to make it 3-0.

North Geelong sprung into life after the third goal and the visitors were given a glimmer of hope only five minutes later when Delianov was penalised for bringing down Michael Simms inside the area, with Townley making it 3-1 after dispatching an emphatic penalty.

But any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out almost immediately as Cristaldo completed his double four minutes later, running the ball into an empty net following a swift City counter-attack.

Anderson and substitute Marafioti netted late goals as both sides continued to attack, with Palatsides men holding on to record a thoroughly deserved win.

City’s Under-20’s side continued its perfect start to the campaign earlier in the day, cruising to a comfortable 4-0 win over North Geelong.

Match Details

Melbourne City FC 5 (Austin WONG 20’, Stefan ZINNI 29’, Christopher CRISTALDO 58’, 69’, Giuseppe MARAFIOTI 78’)

North Geelong Warriors 2 (Matt TOWNLEY 65’, Michael ANDERSON 75’)