NPL Match Report: City 0-1 Preston

Melbourne City’s NPL Seniors battled hard on a bitterly cold Friday night in Dandenong, but ultimately fell 1-0 to title rivals Preston Lions.

The result has flipped the NPL3 script with just two rounds remaining. City now sit in second behind Preston by 1 point but and results would need to go our way for another twist in the championship race.

Starting XI

John Maisano named an unchanged eleven from team that defeated Whittlesea 4-2 away from home the week prior.

Starting XI: 40. James NIEUWENHUIZEN (GK), 4. Dom FOLINO, 3. Kerrin STOKES, 13. Jordan DELLIDIS (45′), 12. Harry POLITIDIS (C), 26. Justin PAOLILLI, 6. Jordi VALADON, 21. Emin DURAKOVIC, 7. Lucas BYRNS (86′), 18. Matthew GRIMALDI, 9. Max CAPUTO.

Substitutes: 41. Luke SAUNDERS (GK), 23. Harrison SHILLINGTON, 27. Sebastian ESPOSITO (45′), 28. Dante SICCITA, 39. Sean GRELLA, 44. Tobenna OBANI (86′).

What Happened?

In what was a fiercely contested affair, the NPL3’s two best teams put on a good show for the large crowd at Frank Holohan Soccer Complex.

City generated a fantastic opportunity early in the match, but young striker Max Caputo couldn’t direct his 12th minute shot on target from the middle of the penalty area.

The game ebbed and flowed with half-chances popping up for both sides, but it was Preston who would force a fantastic save from City keeper James Nieuwenhuizen in the 38th minute.

The City custodian had a Preston winger bearing down on him with pace from the right side, but he was able to get down low and keep himself big to deny the Lions the opening goal.

City came out the better side after half time and were so unlucky not to score after Preston managed two goal line clearances.

The tackles started flying in as the game went on and tensions were rising.

It boiled over in the 68th minute when Preston captain James Haran hit 16 year old Emin Durakovic with a late crunching tackle. The youngster was down for several minutes and Haran was booked.

Haran would then land the killer blow in the 82nd minute as Preston’s captain nodded home from close range following a whipped in cross from a free kick.

City kept pushing forward for a late equaliser and were given a slight boost after Preston substitute Naum Sekulovski was shown his marching orders by the referee for a straight red card in the 95th minute.

But it was a little too late for City to capitalise on their numerical advantage.

What’s Next?

City are back at their fortress at Parade College in two weeks time for their penultimate fixture against currently 8th placed Box Hill United FC.

Melbourne City FC vs Box Hill United FC
Parade College
Saturday 13 August – Kick off 3:00PM