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Jul 28, 2021   |  11:41PM AET

NPL Preview: City v Whittlesea

NPL Preview: City v Whittlesea

The Victorian NPL3 competition is set to resume this weekend, with Melbourne City set to travel to Whittlesea Ranges FC on Saturday afternoon.

It’s been a while between outings, with City not having played an NPL fixture since our important 4-1 win over Doveton SC on Sunday 11 July.

On that occasion, the boys got off to a flying start thanks to Luke Oresti’s goal inside the opening minute, before being pegged back later in the first half. The 1-1 scoreline would remain until the 83rd minute when Max Caputo stepped up to net a crucial penalty, before stoppage-time goals to Lucas Byrns and Jordi Valadon sealed the three points.

The season resumes with City in a strong position after 13 games, currently occupying 4th place and bolstered by a healthy goal difference of +19.

After a strong start to the season, Caputo is currently level on 11 goals with Western United’s Manyluak Aguek as the league’s leading goalscorers, with Raphael Borges Rodrigues and Lucas Byrns are our next best with five and four respectively. 

With Preston and Doveton both facing difficult top 6 opposition in their return to action this weekend, City’s clash with second-bottom Whittlesea Ranges looms as a vital opportunity to re-establish a foothold in the top three if the boys can secure the three points on the road.

City ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at home the last time these teams clashed in Round 7, with Raphael Borges Rodrigues putting on a clinic with an impressive hattrick. 

Playing as City’s number nine in Caputo’s absence, Borges Rodrigues demonstrated great variety in his finishing on the night; his first goal was a brilliant dribble into the box capped off by a low, driven finish, before an incredible long-range chip to beat the keeper from distance and a smart, first-time finish from Moonib Adus’ cross from the left. 

Having secured a clean sheet on that occasion, City will be hoping to do the same when they face Whittlesea again this Saturday, given the hosts are currently the lowest-scoring team in the competition. 

The 11th-placed side has netted 11 goals from their 13 games played, with Thomas Cahill leading the way with four.