NPL Preview: City v Sunshine George Cross


Melbourne City’s NPL senior NPL side will return to action this Saturday, travelling to Knight’s Stadium in Sunshine to take on Sunshine George Cross after a week off.

City’s game against Springvale White Eagles was postponed by the FFV last week, meaning that Saturday will be Joe Palatsides’ side’s first game back since their heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Box Hill United two weeks ago.

A late comeback in that fixture had been all but cemented for City in that contest when Ramy Najjarine fired home in the 93rd minute of action to make it 1-1, only for Todd Decker to pounce a minute later for Box Hill to ensure that Pythagoras escapade with a 2-1 win.

Since that contest, Najjarine has been involved with Melbourne City’s senior A-League side’s tour of Asia, joined by fellow academy prospects Moudi Najjar, Connor Metcalfe, Dylan Pierias, Gianluca Iannucci, Josh Cavallo, Anthony Lesiotis, James Delianov and Mitch Graham.

A number of the youngsters were introduced into the fray by senior Head Coach Warren Joyce in City’s clash with Kerala Blasters as part of City’s pre-season tour of India; Najjarine able to find the net as part of City’s commanding 3-0 win on Tuesday.

City’s NPL side will this week take the field against Sunshine George Cross at one of Australian football’s traditional homes, Knights Stadium.

George Cross come into the weekend’s fixture in a desperate battle for survival in the NPL2 Western Conference, five points adrift of ninth-placed Ballarat City with only six games remaining to secure enough points to stave off relegation.

With only one win in their past fixtures – last week drawing 3-3 with Werribee City – George Cross will be desperate for a win against City, likely to come out physically against a side that is juggling it’s NPL commitments with trying to earn a call-up to Joyce’s senior side during A-League training.

City’s U20 side, who also had their fixture against Springvale postponed, will also return to the fold; taking up their traditional curtain raiser timeslot prior to the senior clash.

Currently amidst a fierce battle for the third position in the U20 NPL2 Eastern Conference, only ahead of – albeit with a game in hand – the fourth-placed Goulburn Valley Suns on goal difference.

Peter Kratky’s side was defeated 4-2 against Box Hill in their last competitive hit out and will be taking the field against a George Cross team that also tasted defeat in their last fixture, going down 2-0 the U20s of Werribee City.

City’s U15 and U18 sides will also be in action over the weekend, looking to turn around less than stellar results in their previous fixtures a week ago.

Both meeting the junior sides of South Melbourne; City’s U15s suffered a 4-3 defeat at the hands of their opponents, while the U18s played out a hard-fought 0-0 draw.

The results means that City’s U15s sit in the sixth position on the NPL U15 East table, two points clear of seventh-placed Kingston City and a point to the rear of the fifth-placed Eastern Lions. The U18s maintain a slim lead atop the NPL U18 East Table but will have to be conscious that second-placed FC Bulleen Lions maintain a game in hand on them to make up their one-point deficit.

Simon Zapia’s and Davey van ‘t Schip’s sides will this week travel down to Kingston Heath, where they will take on the junior sides of NPL powerhouses Bentleigh Greens.

The Greens have made no secret of their desire to improve their academy through the greater allocation of funding and resources in recent years, so Sunday will likely produce a stern test for City.

The U15s are set to kick off at Kingston Heath at 11.15 am, with the U18s to follow at 1.00pm.

Match Details

National Premier Leagues Victoria – NPL2 – Round 23
Sunshine George Cross SC v Melbourne City FC
Saturday, 28 July 2018
Venue: Knight’s Stadium – Sunshine, Victoria
Kick-off: U20s – 1.00pm, Seniors – 3.00pm

Photo: Dion Fountas Photography