Melbourne City’s winning streak has stretched to four after overcoming a 1-0 half-time deficit and multiple first-half injuries to score a gritty win over Springvale White Eagles at White Eagles Stadium on Saturday.
The victory solidifies City’s position in second place on the NPL2 East ladder; one point behind league leaders Dandenong City, who beat Nunawading City 5-1 on Friday night, and three points clear of the third and fourth placed Dandenong Thunder and Eastern Lions SC.
Coming into the game after a week on the sidelines due to the preliminary qualifying rounds of the Westfield FFA Cup, City took the field under the watchful eye of Coach Patrick Kisnorbo, who acted as head coach in place of Joe Palatsides, who kept a keen eye on proceedings from the stands.
Opponents Springvale White Eagles entered the game eager to bounce back, having been eliminated from the Cup by NPL1 side Green Gully last week. Springvale coach Vlado Tortevski has seen his side’s early flirtation with top spot on the table waylaid by an FFV points deduction and back to back defeats.
And it was Springvale that had the game’s first clear cut chance, with Damir Stollovic firing his shot over the bar in the 9th minute after a run and cross from midfielder Delfin Mosibe Esara.
City responded a minute later, applying a period of sustained pressure from the kick-off that saw Connor Metcalfe free at the back post at a corner. It looked like he had the leveller City were after until a magnificent piece of goalkeeping saw his downward header turned wide.
These would prove to be the best chances for either side in the early running of the game, with City in charge of the game but unable to create any clear chances to grab an equaliser.
However, football can be a fickle mistress, whose whims can turn on an instant, and City found that out in a disastrous 10-minute period that saw both Ahmed Yusuf and Nathanial Atkinson forced from the field with injuries (replaced by Gerrie Sylaidos on 30’ and Kobe Timms on 35’ respectively). City then found themselves unable to clear a cross from an attack down the right wing with Mosibe Esara turning it in for the hosts on the 38th minute.
The Equatoguinean midfielder had been Springvale’s best on ground in the first half –the one time Real Madrid and Real Valladoid youth player almost adding to his first goal in the 43rd minute, his long-range effort being magnificently tipped over the bar by Melbourne City goalkeeper James Delianov to keep City within one going into half-time.
Whatever Kisnorbo said to his young chargers in the dressing rooms at the half must have done the trick however, as City’s youth came out firing.
A 49th minute attack by Josh Cavallo announced City’s intentions and just three minutes later City again went close: Sylaidos was able cut inside his man going down the left wing before his piercing cross found Lucas Derrick on the right-hand edge of the six-yard box. Only the efforts of Springvale goalkeeper Lajos Hun denied Derick his second of the season, but in making the save the goalkeeper seemed to injure himself, appearing to hit his head on the goal post.
City did find the scoresheet six minutes later however, when a long looping cross from the right wing fell to Connor Metcalfe, who had time to gather the ball, beat a scrambling Hun and slot his second goal of the season to draw City level.
Hun appeared to be struggling however, and Springvale soon had their second goalkeeper warming up to replace the injured shot stopper.
Before the change could be made however, Sylaidos, whose second-half showing made a strong case for him to start next week, found himself with three yards worth of space in the penalty area and the ball at his feet in the 68th minute. He coolly slid it past the wounded Hun to collect his fifth goal of the campaign and give City the 2-1 lead.
Coming on to replace Hun immediately after the goal, back-up goalkeeper Nikola Popetrov was not greeted warmly by the rampant Melbourne City side, who launched an attack through Sylaidos down the right wing. Sylaidos was able to play a through ball to Marko Delic who beat Popetrov to give City a two-goal cushion.
Speaking after the match, Kisnorbo praised the way his side played: “I think we dominated the game to be honest, unfortunately when sometimes you dominate games they get half a chance and they score and that’s what happened.
‘’But it was great character by the team, a great work ethic and they got back into the game. I thought we controlled the game from minute one until the end.’’
Questioned on the first-half injury substitutions Kisnorbo was pleased with how his side responded “It just shows that, when someone comes out there’s someone coming in to do their job, and they did a fantastic job.”
Earlier in the day City’s U20 side went down 2-0 in a bruising encounter with Springvale’s U20 side.
City’s next PS4 NPL run out will be on Saturday, April 1 when they will hope to avoid being the April Fool as they travel to Epping Stadium to take on Whittlesea Rangers FC.
Melbourne City FC 3 (Conor Metcalfe 58’, Gerrie Sylaidos 68’, Marko Delic 70’)
Springvale White Eagles FC 1 (Delfin Mosibe Esara 38’)