NPL Wrap: Seniors fall, but junior sides roll on

Melbourne City’s NPL side had its unbeaten run snapped at four over the weekend, going down 3-2 to NPL2 Western Conference foes Werribee City FC at LaTrobe University.

With freezing temperatures, buffeting winds and intermittent showers greeting the two sides, the early phases of Saturday’s affair were an arm wrestle, neither side able to muster up a dangerous attack as conditions played havoc with both outfits.

The game’s first shot in anger didn’t occur until the 24th minute, when the Bees Carlin Feely received the ball on the edge of the area, turned his man and fired a shot just wide of the post.

That effort would prove to be an omen however, when four minutes later Werribee would open the scoring through a Trevor Ssemakula effort.

The Bees attacker would collect the ball on the right, advancing down the wing before cutting back inside and launching an effort from just inside the penalty area that City keeper James Delianov had no answer for.

City would have their first clear chance of the game a minute later, Yusuf Ahmed weaving in and out of defenders in the penalty area before putting a shot wide, and would appear to show more life after the goal, beginning to string some passes together as they looked to counter a Bees side that until that point had had the slight ascendency.

City was rewarded for their efforts in the 40th minute when Gianluca Iannucci would play a lovely ball in behind the Werribee defense for Ahmed to run onto.

The big winger was far too quick for the trailing defenders, collecting the ball comfortably before slotting the ball past Bees keeper Tommy Dunn to bring scores level just before halftime.

Both City and Werribee would create chances following the restart, Ahmed firing just over the bar in the game’s 47th and Werribee’s Sam McCall unable to capitalize on a one-on-one opportunity against Delianov in the 52nd, before the Bees would ultimately get the game breaker right on the hour mark.

Collecting the ball around 30 yards out from goal, Dion Paola capitalized on a miscommunication in the City backline to run, unchallenged, into the penalty area before calmly placing it to the left of Delianov to make it 2-1 to the Bees.

Four minutes later it was an error by Delianov that would gift Werribee a goal, the Young Socceroo misjudging the trajectory of a ball in behind the defense, which allowed Jay Kelly to pounce on the ball and slide it into an open net to make it 3-1 to Werribee.

City, who were missing a number of scholarship players due to PFA mandated breaks, took until the game’s final moments to muster up an answer, but what an answer it almost proved to be.

A Luke Duzel corner in the 90th minute was met by Ahmed with a perfectly placed header, that went diagonally behind him and into the bottom corner, to make it 2-1, before a Moudi Najjar effort in the 91st minute was somehow deflected away from it’s path inside the far post and out for a corner by a desperate Bees defender.

It was not enough, however, with the Bees claiming all three points and City’s NPL boys forced to turn their attention to next week’s clash away to Langwarrin.

City’s U20 side had more luck in their clash with the Bees, recording a comfortable 4-2 win in their curtain raiser prior to the senior’s game.

The win stretches the winning streak of Peter Kratky’s U20s to four games, keeping them in touch on the U20 NPL2 Eastern Conference table with the breakaway top two of the Eastern Lions and Springvale White Eagles.

Davey van ‘t Schip’s U18 side made it six wins on the bounce in their match on Sunday, defeating the U18s of Springvale White Eagles 2-0 at White Eagle Stadium.

Both of City’s goals came in the first half of the contest, Yaya Dukuly grabbing his sixth goal of the season in the 15th minute before Jordi Valadon would put City two to the good in the games 39th minute.

The win means that City's U18s now sit atop the U18 Eastern Conference table, their league leading nine wins, no draws and two defeats enough to give them a two point buffer over second placed FC Bulleen Lions. 

Simon Zappia’s U15 squad were also triumphant in their clash with the Springvale White Eagles, defeating the South-Eastern side 3-1.

Young Zac Taweel was well and truly the star of the show for City, the youngster netting a hat-trick with goals in the 9th, 15th and 23rd minute as City raced to an early three-goal lead.

With the top three sides of the U15 Eastern Conference - South Melbourne, Bentleigh Greens and Eastern Lions - all recording wins, the vital three points keeps City in touch with the league leaders as the season rapidly approaches the halfway point.

Photo: Dion Fountas Photography