Melbourne City's NPL Victoria side were dominant on Saturday afternoon, putting six past NPL2 West high-flyers North Geelong Warriors.
A hat-trick to Yusuf Ahmed, accompanied by goals to Connor Metcalfe, Dylan Pierias and Denis Genreau fuelled the City rout, the Warriors – who entered the contest third in the NPL2 West – unable to stem the avalanche of City attacks.
Head of Academy and NPL Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ made a number of changes to the side that secured a 2-2 draw with Moreland City last week, some enforced and some tactical.
Josh Cavallo missed the contest with the suspension picked up thanks to his red card last week, whilst Dylan Pierias returned to the starting XI after being absent entirely from the Moreland encounter.
Jordan Bos, having made his first senior NPL appearance off the bench last week, notched up another milestone; making his first NPL start at left back. He was joined by Seb Kis, who was also rewarded for his impressive substitute appearance against Moreland with a start.
On a bright, if a little chilly Saturday afternoon, City opened the scoring against the visiting Warriors after only 12 minutes, the catalyst coming from some fantastic defending from the front by Genreau.
The City captain pounced as the Warriors sloppily looked to clear the ball from defence, forcing the ball skyward after a crunching challenge on an advancing defender.
Genreau would then get to the loose ball first, heading a pass into the path of a sprinting Ahmed, who would dutifully collect the ball, advance to the edge of the area and slip it past Warriors keeper Marko Stevanja and into the net.
City didn’t ease up off the gas following the opener; Metcalfe, Moudi Najjar and Pierias all going close within a five-minute spell as Palatsides’ side lay siege to Stevanja’s goal.
Darius Madison would pop up with a chance for the Warriors in the 23rd minute to give some hope to the visitors, only for Ahmed to immediately grab his second in the aftermath to reassert City’s dominance.
The goal came as a result of some fantastic build-up play between Genreau and Najjar; the two phenoms knocking passes back and forth as they moved the play from right to left.
The ball would then once again be worked to Ahmed, who got the ball to the edge of the area before sliding it once again past Stevanja to make it 2-0.
Ahmed could have had his hat-trick only minutes later when a City shot on goal was adjudged by the linesman to have been blocked by a Warrior's hand and a penalty awarded. City’s 2016/17 Y-League player of the year stepped up to take it, only to have his effort low and to the left saved by Stevanja.
The penalty save would seemingly spur the Warriors into action, with the visitors having their most commanding period of play as the half began to wind down; going close to goal twice in two minutes through a long-range Michael Boyar effort in the 37th minute and a Madison header in the 38th.
Any hopes that the Warriors would have held of continuing this spell of control into the second stanza were dashed only four minutes into the half however, when Metcalfe grabbed his first goal of the campaign.
Metcalfe, who made his senior A-League debut during the regular season, combined well on a one-two with Najjar to by-pass the Warrior defence before hammering into the net.
Five minutes later Ahmed would finally grab his hat-trick, blasting home from just inside the area to sustain City’s dominance before celebrating in style – almost bringing down the fence as he ran over to celebrate with a group that had made the trip to Bundoora to cheer him on.
Tensions would threaten to boil over as the game continued, a Warriors outfit clearly frustrated with the 4-0 deficit clashing repeatedly with City’s youngsters – who were also becoming increasingly hot-headed.
It would culminate just past the hour mark, with a crunching tackle on City defender Mitch Graham leading to an exchange of handbags between the two sides for several minutes.
With words continuing to be exchanged between the two sides following the resumption of play the bad blood in the fixture was becoming obvious.
Following the incident, it was the Warriors that drew next blood, substitute Tom Hidic seizing on a poorly attempted clearance by Graham to run towards a one-on-one with James Delianov and hammer home a consolation goal for visitors.
City wouldn’t let the Warriors have the final word, however, adding two late goals to pour salt into their opponent’s wounds and pad their goal difference.
Pierias would get on the end of a long ball over the top of the Warriors defence, cutting in from the right before launching a thunderbolt into the bottom corner in the 79th before Genreau would seal it with a magnificent long-range effort in the 87th, launching an effort from 30 yards out that sailed into the top corner to ensure that City finished with six of the best.
City will continue their competition against NPL2 Western Conference foes next week when they travel to Dunstan Reserve to take on Brunswick City.
Brunswick finished 6th in the NPL2 West in 2017 and currently sit in 5th place on the standings, with three wins, two draws and three losses to their name heading into this rounds fixture.