NPL Preview: City v Preston


The Victorian NPL3 competition is set to resume this weekend, with Melbourne City FC playing host to league-leaders Preston Lions at Casey Fields on Saturday.

City haven’t played an NPL fixture since our 6-0 win over Ballarat City on May 23 – the day after our A-League side secured the Premier’s Plate against Central Coast. On that occasion, Matthew Grimaldi gave his side the early lead before Max Caputo, who fans will now be even more familiar with following his recent A-League debut at 15 years old, piled on four goals, with Jordi Valadon netting the sixth late in the encounter.

The season resumes with City in a strong position after nine games, currently occupying 2nd place with a healthy goal difference of +18. The aforementioned Caputo currently tops the competition’s goalscoring charts with nine goals in eight games, with Raphael Borges Rodrigues and Lucas Byrns our next best with five and three respectively.

Tough opposition awaits on Saturday afternoon, with the City boys set to take on the undefeated Preston Lions who sit comfortably in first place following their seven wins and two draws.

The two sides previously faced off in Round 1 in front of a vocal B.T Connor Reserve crowd, with those in attendance witnessing an entertaining and, at times, fiery clash that ended in favour of the home team. Despite losing, City were the first to strike, earning an own-goal following a City free-kick that caused chaos in the Preston box, with Borges Rodrigues’ ensuing header deflected into the back of the net.

Ten minutes before half-time, Preston found an equaliser through Chris Davies, who was able to redirect James Poole’s cross into the back of the net to restore parity for his side.

A tense second-half followed, but City hearts were broken in the 94th when Davies again turned the tide, sliding a through ball into the path of Alex Schiavo, who struck past Sutton to give the Lions the win.

The last game that Preston played was against mid-table Whittlesea Ranges in Round 9, when they were able to secure a 2-1 victory at home thanks to goals from Poole and Lochlan Reus.

Davies tops the goalscoring for Preston with six goals after nine games, whilst Reus and Schiavo trail with three apiece.

This fixture will be played behind closed doors due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne, but a live stream will be available for fans to watch via the the Preston Lions Football Club Facebook page.

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