NPL Report: Box Hill 3-2 City


Melbourne City FC’s winning streak in the NPL3 competition has been cut short at three games, the team going down to Box Hill United 3-2 away from home.

The clash was a see-sawing affair all the way through, Box Hill took the lead early before conceding first-half goals to Max Caputo and Lucas Byrns. Following a late equalising goal on the stroke of half-time, the home side was then able to find a winner in the 64th, the one-goal lead proving enough to secure the three points.

Starting XI

With City’s game against Box Hill preceding the club’s A-League clash with Macarthur by a few hours, the team was again missing several of its top talents heading into the game. Having managed to secure a win last weekend without the likes of Stefan Colakovski, Marco Tilio and Matthew Sutton, the side also went without centre-back pairing Kerrin Stokes and Alec Mills, as well as Raphael Borges Rodrigues in midfield.

Taras Gomulka was shifted to centre-back to cover for these crucial defensive absences and once again took the captain’s armband.

What happened?

With several key personnel missing, City struggled to find its feet early on and spent the opening 15 minutes looking to rediscover its usual fluidity.

It was Box Hill who fired off the first meaningful opportunity of the half, testing Ahmad Taleb from range in the 16th minute.

Just 60 seconds later, Box Hill would open the scoring with a thunderous volley following the floated cross from the right which rattled the back of Taleb’s net.

However, parity would be restored in the 26th when Max Caputo was brought down in a one-on-one tangle in the box, the striker stepping up to convert it with composure from the spot.

The equalising goal enabled City to find its rhythm and dominate possession, ultimately leading to a second goal in the 39th. Moonib Adus was able to weight a perfect ball from the left to find Lucas Byrns who had cut inside to finish neatly near the back post.

Just as it looked like City would be heading into the break with a one-goal lead, Box Hill were able to capitalise on a scramble in the box to net an equalising goal in added time, with the game poised at 2-2 as the referee blew for half-time.

Whilst City created a pair of opportunities just a few minutes into the second period, it was Box Hill who came closest early on, with Stuart Edgar’s 53rd minute glancing header flashing narrowly past the left upright.

Unfortunately for City, their good work to start the half was brought undone in the 64th by a turnover in midfield that lead to a quick transitional goal for the home side.

Going behind in that fashion halted City’s momentum,  the side struggling to hold on to the ball or work it into the opposition area as they did in the first period.

With the visitors unable to create enough genuine scoring chance, Box Hill held on for the remainder of the 90 to ensure a 3-2 win.

What’s next?

City’s loss marks the end of the side’s three-game winning run and sees the team slide from its initial second-place position heading into the round. The boys now have the opportunity to rebound in their huge Round 6 clash when they travel to face Western United’s NPL3 outfit next Friday night.

H2H jets