Melbourne City FC have kicked off their maiden NPL campaign with a hard fought 2-2 draw against Moreland City FC at JL Murphy Reserve on Saturday.
A frantic first half period saw Gareth Richards and Osman Kose cancel out Marc Marino’s opener in the space of three minutes, but Matthew Millar capitalised on some poor defending to snatch an equaliser and earn Melbourne City FC their first NPL point.
A cagey start to proceedings saw Moreland City FC have majority of the attacking play early on, with Casey Thomas firing a volley straight at goalkeeper Yaren Sozer and Richards blazing an effort over the cross bar.
Sozer was once again called into action in the 27th minute, this time holding on to an effort from Kose as the striker found himself in space behind the defence.
Melbourne City FC began to grow with confidence as the first half wore on, with an excellent bursting run from Nicholas Symeoy in the 29th minute going unrewarded as his pass inside the area was intercepted by Orrie Kara.
Kose was proving to be a livewire for Moreland City FC in the final third, flashing a drive wide of the goal in the 30th minute after being found outside the area by Thomas.
But the FNYL champions took the lead in the 34th minute when a lovely chipped pass from Tomislav Fadlevic found Marc Marino, who finished first time past Brandon Galgano to give make it 1-0.
The game suddenly sprung into life when Richards found space in behind the defence and coolly lobbed the onrushing Sozer only a minute later to level the scores for Moreland City FC.
And the away side were ahead in the 38th minute when Sozer could only parry Thomas' shot into the path of Kose, who fired home the rebound to give Moreland City FC a 2-1 lead into the break.
A bright start to the second period saw Moreland City nearly increase their advantage within seconds of the restart, with Mo Kurucu forcing Sozer into an excellent save at his near post. Kurucu went close again only three minutes later as his curling effort struck the outside of the post.
Phillip Petreski almost snatched an equalizer for Melbourne City FC in the 62nd minute, with the skipper’s curling free kick sailing narrowly wide of the top corner.
Moreland City continued to turn the screws in search of a killer third goal, with Kara heading a set- piece just wide before Sozer made a brilliant diving save to deny a goal bound header from Richards.
And they were made to pay for their wastefulness in the 79th minute when Millar capitalised on a sloppy back pass to nip in front of Galgano and tap into an empty net to make it 2-2.
Moreland City FC threw numbers forward late in search of a late winner but couldn’t find a way past Sozer, with the goalkeeper making another excellent diving save to deny substitute Kam Simcek before holding to a low drive from Liam Brian.
Melbourne City FC continue their NPL 1 West campaign against Brunswick City at Dunstan Reservenext Saturday at 3pm.
Melbourne City FC 2 (Marc MARINO 34’, Matthew MILLAR 79’)
Moreland City FC (Gareth RICHARDS 35’, Omar KOSE 38’)
Melbourne City FC Line-up: 1. Yaren SOZER (GK), 2. Tyler JAMES, 3. Nicholas SYMEOY, 4. Tomislav FADJLEVIC (Baki EFE 61’), 5. Leo ATHANASIOU, 6. Phillip PETRESKI (C), 8. Ratip CILELI, 9. Marc MARINO (Nick MORTON 67’), 11. Stefan ZINNI, 12. Anthony RIZK, 16. Matthew MILLAR
Substitutes not-used: 13. Haralambos STAMBOULIDIS, 19. Anthony TARANTO, 20. Jack WEST-ASTUTI
Yellow Cards: Millar 58’, James 63’
Red Cards: Nil
Moreland City FC Line-up: 1. Brandon GALGANO, 21. Nodj SAHIN, 18. Orrie KARA (C), 12. Shane CARR, 6. Julien DOS SANTOS, 23. Mo KURRUCU (Liam BRIAN 90’), 2. Yang TOU-YENG (Blaine BURRELL 87’), 7. Osman KOSE, 8. Corey THOMAS, 14. Casey THOMAS (Kam SIMCEK 87’), 9. Gareth RICHARDS
Substitutes not-used: 19. Rob BAZZANO, 16. Nathan GOURZELAS
Yellow Cards: Dos Santos 60’, Corey Thomas 90’
Red Cards: Nil