NPL Report: Bulleen 3-0 City

Melbourne City suffered its first loss of the NPL2 season on Monday night, going down 3-0 to Bulleen Lions at Veneto Club.

The match was turned on its head in the 53rd minute when Sebastian Esposito, City’s skipper for the evening, was shown a straight red card with the hosts then scoring three times in the remaining minutes against 10 men.

Team News

Head Coach Crisdion Krstevski made three changes to his starting XI from the Round 1 win over Northcote City.

Goalkeeper and last week’s captain, James Nieuwenhuizen, was away on Young Socceroos duty, while Jordon Hall was unavailable due to ALM commitments.

Matthew Sutton and Kerrin Stokes replaced them in the line-up, while Harrison Shillington also moved to the bench with Joshua Damevski making his first start of the season.

Starting XI: 23. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 2. Dom FOLINO, 4. Joshua DAMEVSKI, 5. Jordan DELLIDIS, 7. Luke ORESTI, 8. Emin DURAKOVIC, 11. Patrick HOGAN, 13. Kerrin STOKES, 15. Max CAPUTO, 17. Sebastian ESPOSITO (C), 26. Emile PEIOS.

Substitutes: 20. Adrian SINAGRA (GK), 6. Justin PAOLILLI, 21. Ben MAZZEO, 38. James RALLIS, 45. Harry SHILLINGTON, 99. Giorgio SERDENES.

What happened?

The clash got off to a fiery start when Bulleen’s Dante Conte ran through Emin Durakovic just seconds into the contest, forcing a delay straight away as the 17-year-old was assessed by the City medical staff.

Thankfully, the young midfielder was cleared after a few minutes and play resumed.

Once things got back underway, it was a relatively evening beginning to the contest with neither side grabbing the ascendancy straight away.

Luke Oresti and Patrick Hogan were amongst City’s best in the first half, the wingers causing plenty of issues for Bulleen’s wide defenders who struggled to contain their pace and creativity.

Durakovic also bounced back well from the early hit, but all that was missing in the first half was the finishing touch on one of the City chances.

Emile Peios was perhaps the closest with a couple of sights at goal in quick succession around the 24th minute, but both strikes were just wide of the target.

Oresti would continue to get better as the opening 45 minutes went on and had a half-chance in the 37th, his curling effort forcing a diving save out of the Bulleen ‘keeper.

City centre-back duo Jordan Dellidis and Joshua Damevski passed every challenge put to them with flying colours, ensuring the hosts had little to get excited about in the front third throughout the first half.

The second 45 began with the Lions sitting deep in defence as City dominated the possession but struggled to find a way through the sea of maroon shirts.

Things then took a turn for the worst for the visiting City side in the 53rd minute from a Bulleen corner.

A header appearing bound for goal was kept out by Esposito at the back post, but the referee ruled it a deliberate handball and the skipper was given his marching orders.

The resulting spot-kick was converted by Max Batchelor, giving the now 10-man City plenty of work to do after that goal against the run of play.

Matthew Sutton saw his crossbar rattled a couple of minutes later but other than that, the next 15 minutes were all City as Krstevski’s side hunted an equaliser.

Things heated up again in the 67th minute when a clear handball was missed by the blindsided referee before Bulleen went up the other end of the pitch and Riki Foster Hosoai’s effort was comfortably saved by Sutton.

Confusion then began to ring around Veneto Club as Damevski was shown a yellow card, leaving spectators scratching their heads as there was no clear incident, before an indirect free-kick was then awarded to the hosts just inside the box.

Fortunately for City, Batchelor’s curling shot from the set-piece was wide and play resumed.

Frustratingly though, City’s defence was caught out moments later and the advantage was doubled from close range by Jen Louis Mbarushayo.

Despite City’s best efforts to get back into the contest, the extra number made things difficult and it was only Bulleen who’d find the back of the net once more before the final whistle.

What’s next?

City will be hoping for a return to winning ways when it plays its first home match of the season this Saturday afternoon against Eastern Lions.