Melbourne City will undertake one of the longest away days in Victorian football on Saturday when they travel to Albury-Wodonga to take on Murray United in round 17 of the PS4 NPL2 Season.
City come into the match after putting in a brave performance to salvage a draw against Richmond SC 1953 in round 16.
That effort saw City fight back from a one goal deficit on two seperate occasions, through goals to Marko Delic and Austin Wong, after City were reduced to ten men on the park when centre back Lucas Portillo was sent off only five minutes into the contest.
Despite missing a number of A League capped players for the game, City coach Lachlan Armstrong has praised the depth of his young side and emphasised the role the younger players have played in the team’s success thus far:
“The thing about the character of this group is – we fielded 12 out of 16 boys who are eligible to play under 18 football [In the game against Richmond]. It’s a very very young team, they’re getting their chance and they’re stepping up to the plate, which is great to see. I’d like to give them another chance next week to be honest – regardless of who’s back.”
The hard-fought Friday night draw ensured that City would remain in third place regardless of the weekend’s other results – and Murray United’s 5-4 loss to Box Hill SC on the Saturday saw City’s buffer over themselves and the fourth placed border side stretched to four points.
The two Dandenong sides, City and the Thunder, that sit atop City in the automatic and playoff promotion spots respectively were inactive over the weekend – their local derby postponed until August.
Opponents Murray United, despite the 5-4 loss to Box Hill United in the last round, have undergone a renaissance this season after finishing ninth on the Eastern conference table in 2016.
The club, formed in 2014 to represent NSW’s Riverina and the North East of Victoria, have already doubled their 2016 win total of three so far this season, with offseason signing Archie Thompson bringing a greater spotlight and a new sense of energy to the club.
Led by head coach James Coutts, United have also been bolstered in the mid-season transfer window – signing Richmond SC pair Gonzalo Freddi – who scored on debut against Box Hill – and defender Halil Gur.
The game will take place on Pitch One at the Albury-Wodonga campus of LaTrobe University at 3pm – with the U20 sides of the two teams to play in a curtain raiser at 12:30.
NPL Victoria – Round 17
Murray United FC v Melbourne City
Saturday June 3, LaTrobe University (Albury-Wodonga Campus) Pitch One, Albury-Wodonga
Seniors: 3pm Under 20’s: 12.30pm
Entry at gate prices