Melbourne City will play their final home match of the 2017 PS4 NPL2 campaign on Saturday as they host the newly crowned NPL2 Eastern Conference Champion Dandenong Thunder at LaTrobe University, Bundoora.
Despite themselves losing one goal to nil at the hands of Sunshine George Cross SC in their round 26 match, the Thunder were crowned Eastern Conference champions and secured promotion to the top flight last week after Dandenong City’s two goals to nil defeat at the hands of Werribee City FC left them seven points adrift with two games to play.
Featuring the likes of former A-League stalwarts Simon Colosimo, Rodrigo Vargas and Kristian Sarkies and NPL stars such as Brandon Barnes – who has once been scoring goals for fun throughout the campaign – the Thunder now sit in the enviable position of being secure in their top position with a fortnight of the season still to complete.
City however, are not in the same position of security in third position on the table.
Coming into the penultimate round of the season, City sit only two points clear of the fourth placed Goulburn Valley Suns and four points clear of the fifth placed Murray United.
The Suns will travel to face relegation threatened Richmond SC in their round 27 game whilst Murray United will make the trip to Melbourne to face the Springvale White Eagles.
City will be defending their slender lead in third place on the table with proverbial wind at their backs however, after arresting a two-game losing streak in their last game on August 5 when they secured a convincing two goals to nil win over Brunswick City SC.
Goals by Austin Wong and Gerrie Sylaidos where enough for City on the day – in a result that also marked City’s third clean sheet of the season so far.
City largely displayed the up-tempo, high pressure game style – that had at one stage seem them atop the Eastern Conference earlier in the season – to dominate Brunswick for much of their Round 26 clash.
Youth boss Joe Palatsides said of the performance: “I thought that our pressure was high and our running ability was at a very good level. That makes it hard for the opposition to control the game and to even create chances.”
However, with both Joe Palatsides and coach Lachlan Armstrong leading an exhibition of City youth players in China; the task of leading City will be taken up by U20s and W-League City head coach Paddy Kisnorbo – who last oversaw City’s NPL side when they defeated the Sringvale White Eagles back in round seven of the season.
With City’s championship winning U20 side having already completed their fixture against the Thunder; the clash between the two senior sides will be the only match played at LaTrobe this weekend – with kick-off set for 3pm.
NPL Victoria – Round 27
Melbourne City vs Dandenong Thunder SC
Saturday 19 August, 2017
LaTrobe University (Pitch One), Bundoora