NPL Wrap: Junior's class shines as seniors suffer disappointment

City’s senior NPL side had a Saturday they’d rather forget this past weekend, going down 4-0 to NPL2 Eastern Conference title contenders Moreland City. The news was better for City’s junior sides, however, taking seven points from a possible nine.

Warning signs were apparent in the early stages of City’s contest with Moreland, conceding a penalty in only the fourth minute of play at La Trobe University.

They were granted a reprieve nonetheless when goalkeeper James Delianov – backing up a magnificent midweek performance against Springvale White Eagles- saved the resulting spot-kick to keep scores at 0-0.

City’s respite didn’t last however, Moreland refusing to take their foot off the pedal and pressing their early advantage; throwing further attacks forward.

They made a breakthrough only three minutes following the penalty, NPL2 Eastern Conference-leading scorer Apai Ukuno beating Delianov to put the visitors up 1-0.

The disastrous start for City was compounded as the first half progressed, Mathew Reid striking in the 15th minute to make it 2-0, Ukono netting in the 32nd minute to secure 17th goal of the season and make it three and Anthony Lesiotis – who was still feeling the effects on an illness that swept through the Young Socceroos camp at the recent SBS Cup – being forced off for Dylan Pierias only two minutes later.

Dylan’s arrival did provide both the City and Pierias families something to celebrate on an otherwise dour day, with Dylan getting the chance to play senior NPL football with brother Ben for the first time.

The damage inflicted by Moreland could perhaps have been even greater were it not for the work of Delianov, who worked valiantly between the posts to keep Moreland from inflicting further pain upon his side.

After a first half to forget, City was able to somewhat stem the tide in the second 45, limiting the visitors to a 63rd-minute goal by Ratip Cileli and ensuring that the scoreline didn’t blow out to embarrassing proportions.

Earlier in the day, City’s U20s had their hopes of going back-to-back-to-back in the NPL2 U20 Eastern Conference dashed when a 1-1 with the 20s of Moreland ensured that the title would this year be secured by Eastern Lions.

Billy Skliros opened the scoring for City in the 13th minute of the U20s clash, giving Peter Kratky’s side a lead they would hold for 67 minutes until Damon Bisetto equalised for the visitors in the 80th minute, ensuring that the title would make its way to Burwood.

The tidings for City’s other academy sides was far better the following day, with both the U18s and U15s securing wins over the junior sides of NPL powerhouse Heidelberg United at Olympic Village.

Max Caputo put City’s U15s ahead in the fifth minute of their tie with the Bergers, before making it 2-0 with another strike in the 34th minute of play.

Michael Mihailidis and Dean Leos tied things back up for the hosts with goals either side of half-time, only for City to secure the win with just over 20 minutes of play when Kai Adachi grabbed his first goal of the season.

There were no such problems for City’s U18s in their encounter with the Bergers, recording a comprehensive 4-0 win.

Darcy Anastovski brought his season tally to 17 with a hat-trick in the contest, with Luke Oresti adding City’s other goal.

Photo: Dion Fountas Photography