Melbourne City’s Y-League side will continue their pursuit of a third straight Y-League Grand Final appearance on Saturday morning when they travel to Epping to take on Melbourne Victory in the season’s second Y-League Melbourne Derby.
Joe Palatsides’ group are second in the Y-League’s Conference A heading into the clash, four points adrift of conference leaders Brisbane Roar.
City, however, retains a game in hand over their Queensland-based rivals, and with the Roar sitting out this week of the campaign for their second and final bye could end the round only a point behind the conference toppers.
To ensure they close the gap, though, they will have to defeat familiar foes Melbourne Victory.
With just four points to their name so far this Y-League season, Victory are all but guaranteed to not be able to reach this year’s Grand Final and so instead will adopt the role of spoiler for future opponents City and Brisbane.
It’s a role that will be familiar to Gareth Naven’s side, having almost derailed City’s march to the 2017/18 Y-League Grand Final when they defeated City 2-1 in round nine of that season thanks to goals from Birkan Kirdar and Pierce Waring.
If Victory is to stage a similar upset on Friday afternoon they will have to reverse a two-game losing skid that included a 6-0 hammering by Roar in their last hit out.
Naven's group will also have to put in a significantly better performance than the one they produced in their last meeting with City in round four, where they lost 4-1.
Braces to Moudi Najjar and Connor Metcalfe powered City to a convincing win in that December 1 encounter, with only a 58th minute consolation strike from Yazid Said giving Victory anything to hang their hats on.
The strikes from Najjar serve as two of the five goals that he has scored so far this Y-League campaign, with the big number nine on the scoresheet once again in City’s brave, come-from-behind 3-2 win over Adelaide United last round.
Despite going down 2-0 in the first half thanks to two goals in two minutes from the Reds Carlo Armiento, City was able to rally in that contest at C.B Smith Reserve, Dylan Pierias netting in the 37th minute, Stefan Colakovski in the 53rd and Najjar in the 76th to keep City’s season alive.
Due to Friday’s forecast heatwave, the clash has been rescheduled from its original Friday afternoon kick-off for Saturday morning in order to guarantee player safety.
Foxtel Y-League Round 8
Saturday, 5 January 2019
Melbourne City FC v Melbourne Victory FC
Venue: Epping Stadium, Epping, Melbourne, Victoria
Kick-off: 9:30 am