NPL Wrap: U18s dominate in mixed weekend for City

Melbourne City’s Senior NPL side was unable to arrest their form slide on Saturday, falling 3-1 to Langwarrin SC in their clash at Lawton Park Reserve.

In overcast conditions in Melbourne’s south-east, it was Langwarrin’s Mat Luak who drew first blood in the contest, netting against a City side that was still missing a number of scholarship players in the 26th minute.

Intercepting an errant pass from Josh Cavallo as City looked to break, Luak would quickly advance towards the City penalty area, faking out defender Mitch Graham before putting a low shot across Daniel Smith – who started in place of a rested James Delianov – and inside the far post to make it 1-0.

City responded immediately, however, leveling things up through winger Yusuf Ahmed in the game’s 28th minute.

The big number seven, who with the goal took his season tally to nine, got on the end of a long pass in behind the Langwarrin defense, rounding keeper Robert Acs, before sliding the ball into an open net to restore the game to parity.

City would have a chance late in the half to take the lead – central defender Lucas Portelli launching a speculative effort from well outside the area – but Acs was up to the challenge, comfortably saving to keep the game level heading into halftime.

Said parity was not long for this world, however, Langwarrin striking almost immediately after the restart to once again take a one-goal advantage.

Having collected a long ball from Portelli that sailed past the City attack and harmlessly into the area, Acs hoofed a long effort deep into City’s half. Bouncing, the ball’s path duped Portelli into mistiming his effort to head the ball clear.

It instead carried onwards in behind the City defence, where Langwarrin’s Johnny Kuol was able to pounce on it and blast a left-footed effort past Smith.

Smith would then produce a piece of magic to deny Langwarrin a third five minutes later, somehow launching himself upwards and to his right to punch a header from Samuel Klepac over the bar for a corner.

Smith would once more produce an amazing save, this time of the reaction variety, in the game’s 75th minute, punching a free header from Langwarrin’s Andrew Mcintyre out for a corner.

There was little that could have been expected of Smith in the game’s 82nd minute, however, when Kuol grabbed his second from the penalty spot, sending the young keeper the wrong way, to seal the game.

City’s U20s had also fallen to the U20s of Langwarrin in the curtain raiser, Peter Kratky’s side having their four-game winning streak snapped as Langwarrin recorded their fifth win of the season.

There was significantly more luck for City’s junior academy sides in their contests on Saturday, both recording victories over the junior sides of the Goulburn Valley Suns in their road trip to Shepparton.

Charbel Shamoon was once again the hero for Simon Zappia’s U15 side, the youngster netting his 11th goal of the season in the 51st minute of the contest as City recorded their sixth win in seven games.

The win means that City has kept track with the league leaders in the NPL U15 Eastern Conference, with the league-leading South Melbourne drawing to constrict the table at the top.

There were no such narrow margins for Davey van ‘t Schip’s side, with City’s U18 side recording a comprehensive 7-1 victory over the U18s of the Goulburn Valley Suns.

Indeed, City’s U18s were so dominant that one might say – with tongue firmly in cheek – that they scored eight goals in the contest, with the Suns 1st minute goal coming by way of an own goal by City’s Alexander Kondoleon.

City went to work from that point however, Darcy Anastovski netting four times in the game’s 13th, 56th, 57th, and 64th minutes, Daniel Lucente striking a brace in the game’s 10th and 31st minutes and Thomas Pisani netting an individual goal in the game’s 45th minute as they staged a solar demolition.

The win ensures that City’s U18s remain in top place on the NPL’s U18 Eastern Conference table, two points clear of the second-placed FC Bulleen Lions.

Photo: Dion Fountas Photograph