NPL Preview: City v Ballarat City


Melbourne City FC will be hoping to secure its second-place position in the NPL3 with a three-point performance when it hosts Ballarat City this Sunday at Casey Fields.

The boys were recently able to record a second-consecutive win in the competition when they secured a 0-1 win on the road against Geelong SC, Lucas Byrns scoring the late winner. 

Taras Gomulka was the big ‘out’ heading into the clash, with Domenic Folino the other change from last week’s lineup. Max Caputo and Lucas Byrns came into XI in their place, while goalkeeper Ahmad Taleb took the captain’s armband.

Taleb’s heroics were the outstanding theme of the first half, which ended 0-0, with the City keeper making several incredible saves to keep his side in the game early on.

However, chances tended to come at a premium in the first period aside from this, with Geelong’s few good opportunities happening to arrive in great scoring areas, hence the need for some massive saves from Taleb.

Having struggled to make inroads into the opposition penalty area in the first half, Melbourne City made a much stronger start following the break, with Jordan Bos and Raphael Borges Rodrigues coming close with their efforts in the 48th and 58th minutes respectively.

The crowd rose to their feet in unison in the 70th minute when they thought Geelong’s Trajkoski had netted the winner for his side, but the midfielder’s off-balance volley from inside the box skimmed narrowly past the outside of the post.

The game’s big moment came in the 84th minute, when City were interplaying well around the boundaries of the penalty area and were eventually able to work the ball wide to Byrns, who cut inside and buried his curling effort into the top-right corner.

Byrns’ goal would prove to be the decisive action, with the match ending 0-1 to the visiting City side.

City will now be looking ahead to its Round 9 clash with 12th-place Ballarat City eagerly, with the squad seeking to continue their solid start to the season with a third-consecutive win.

Ballarat have won just one game this campaign, beating Whittlesea Ranges 2-0, and most recently received a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Melbourne Victory.

This weekend’s opposition have netted seven times in their eight games to date, with Nelson Salvatore being his side’s only multiple-goalscorer.