NPL Match Report: City Clinch Promotion

Melbourne City’s NPL Seniors have clinched promotion into NPLM 2 following a 4-2 win away at Whittlesea Ranges.

With three fixtures to play, City sits top of the NPLM 3 table, two points clear of second placed Preston Lions and ten points ahead of Melbourne Victory in third.

Starting XI

John Maisano made one change from last week’s starting XI with Lucas Byrns coming in for Luke Oresti.

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

Substitutes: 41. Luke SAUNDERS (GK), 25. Rhys DUFTON, 27. Sebastian ESPOSITO, 39. Sean GRELLA, 8. Luke ORESTI, 23. Harrison SHILLINGTON.

What Happened?

The first half was all City as John Maisano’s squad dominated proceedings from the get go.

It only took 15 minutes for City to break the deadlock. Max Caputo headed home from close range via a beautifully whipped in cross from Lucas Byrns.

Matthew Grimaldi had a golden opportunity to score after a well placed cross from Max Caputo, but he blazed high over the bar.

However, the young winger wasn’t going to pass up his next opportunity. Some great City pressing caused a turnover and Grimaldi collected the ball at the edge of the area, settled and unleashed a powerful effort past the keeper.

Five minutes later Lucas Byrns was clearly fouled inside the box as he attempted to dribble through the Whittlesea backline. The confident winger stepped up and calmly slotted home the penalty to give City a commanding 3-0 lead at half time.

Whittlesea came out a completely different team after the break. They started moving the ball a lot quicker and were pressing aggressively which caused City a lot of problems.

Keeper James Nieuwenhuizen was forced into action early in the second half, making a few good saves before Whittlesea we able to claw one back.

Whittlesea’s confidence was building but City were resolute at the back and managed defend their chances well.

Substitute Luke Oresti put the game to bed in the 86th minute with a fantastic goal. The youngster cut in from the right side of the box and and beat the Whittlesea keeper with a fine left-footed strike.

Although Whittlesea pulled one back in the 95th minute with virtually the last kick of the game, it was too little too late as City had done enough to clinch a top-2 spot.

What’s Next?

A potentially title-deciding clash is up next, as City host the second-placed Preston Lions at home. City hold a two-point lead over Preston with three matches left in the season.