NPL Preview: City v Box Hill United


Having turned around a seven-game losing streak to take four points from the last two matches, Melbourne City’s senior NPL side will look to continue the momentum this weekend against Box Hill United.

City earned a point in the tough road trip to the border last week, their fixture with Murray United at La Trobe University (Albury-Wodonga) ending at 2-2.

Despite losing their first-choice goalkeeper in the opening stages of the contest, Murray ultimately took the lead in the fixture; Lewis Greenwood finding an open Zac Walker behind the City defence in the 27th minute and the Murray danger-man sliding home.

The lead wasn’t to last, however, Ahmed Yusuf driving in from the right and putting in a dangerous cross that Murray inadvertently turned into their own net in the 36th minute.

A headed effort from in-form attacker Gianluca Iannucci on the stroke of half-time then gave City the lead and handed them the momentum to dominate chance creation in the second half.

Disaster struck for City in the 75th minute though, when Murray captain Ashely Dunn was brought down in the penalty area by City goalkeeper Daniel Smith.

A spot-kick awarded, Walker made no mistake, making it 2-2 and ensuring that honours would be even on the border.

The point means that City’s retains the fifth place on the NPL2 East table, only a point behind the fourth-placed Goulburn Valley Suns.

A City win on Saturday could result in them soaring as high as third place on the table, their goal difference far superior to that of the third-placed Springvale White Eagles, who are only three points clear of them in the third position on the table.

To get the three-points, City will have to defeat Box Hill United – who sit ninth in the ten-team NPL2 East.

Box Hill come into this weekend’s contest on a two-game losing run, having suffered defeat at the hands of Springvale and Moreland City in back-to-back weeks.

City and Box Hill last met in round three of the NPL2 season, when a 36th-minute thunderbolt by Dylan Pierias and 88th-minute effort from Gianluca Iannucci secured a comfortable 2-0 win for Head Coach Joe Palatsides side.

Originally earmarked as a City home game, ground availability means that this weekend’s fixture against Box Hill will not be played at La Trobe University (Bundoora); but instead at John Cain Memorial Park, home of NPL side Northcote City.

City’s U20s will also meet the U20s of Box Hill at John Cain in their Saturday fixture, Peter Kratky’s side looking to arrest a slide in form that has seen them – despite being third on the table – fail to record a win in two weeks.

Opponents Box Hill enter the contest sitting in the eighth position on the ten-team U20 NPL2 Eastern Conference, last week earning a point against the second-placed Springvale White Eagles.

City’s junior sides will also return to action after a week off, both Simon Zappia’s U15s and Davey van ‘t Schip’s U18 side travelling to the Veneto Club to take on the junior sides of NPL side FC Bulleen Lions.

Sitting sixth in the table after going down 2-1 to the Eastern Lions in their last fixture, City’s U15s will take the field against the fourth-placed Lions in the first contest between the two clubs on Sunday, kicking off at 2:00 pm.

City’s U18s, who sit three points clear of their Lions opponents atop the NPL U18 Eastern Conference heading into this weekend’s fixture, will then take the field at 3:30 pm.

Match Details

National Premier Leagues Victoria – NPL2 – Round 20
Melbourne City v Murray United
Saturday, 14 July 2018
Venue: John Cain Memorial Park – Pitch 1 – Thornbury, Victoria
Kick-off: U20s – 1.00pm, Seniors – 3.00pm

Photo: Dion Fountas Photograp