A depleted Melbourne City side suffered late heartbreak in the NPL2 against Brunswick City over the weekend.
A stoppage-time goal to Brunswick saw the visitors secure all three points after Tobenna Obani had opened scoring earlier in the contest.
Head Coach Crisdion Krstevski was dealt with perhaps his biggest challenge of the season so far.
The recent departures from the club of NPL2 regulars Kerrin Stokes and the in-form Raphael Borges Rodrigues were enough of a headache already, but on top of that, a number of players are currently away on international duty.
Sebastian Esposito, Emin Durakovic, Harry Shillington and Max Caputo – all walk-up starters throughout the season – are currently away with the U18 national team.
Starting XI: 90. William Sparrow (GK), 2. Dom FOLINO, 4. Joshua DAMEVSKI, 5. Jordan DELLIDIS (C), 38. James RALLIS, 16. Emile PEIOS, 24. Alec BECVINOVSKI, 43. Marcus HUMBERT, 99. Giorgio SERDENES, 44. Tobenna OBANI, 46. Medin MEMETI.
Substitutes: 1. James NIEUWENHUIZEN (GK), 6. Justin PAOLILLI, 14. Taylan UNAL, 19. Kasra KARAMAD, 21. Ben MAZZEO, 46. Ryan KALMS.
City began the contest strongly, threatening the Brunswick penalty area just two minutes after the first whistle.
A smart ball from Tobenna Obani – who’d gotten forward after winning the ball back to kickstart the move – found Medin Memeti in the box, but the 15-year-old’s effort from a tight angle was well blocked.
Although a number of the more senior members of the squad were missing, City still enjoyed long spells in possession and controlled the tempo well.
The deadlock was broken in the 37th minute, with Obani doing the damage for City. A header across the face of goal saw the Brunswick keeper charge to clean up the spilled ball, but the City attacker beat him to it and cooly finished from an almost impossible angle into the back of the net.
Just moments later, Obani was again the man at the centre of things. He was found by a smart Marcus Humbert ball over the top and looked to lift a half-volley over the keeper, but his effort was slightly high and hit the top of the crossbar.
Unfortunately for City, the equaliser came in the 43rd minute through an own goal from skipper Jordan Dellidis whose attempted clearance from a cross ended up in his own net.
The second half almost got off to a perfect start for City, Humbert forcing a great save from the edge ofd the area, before Alec Becvinovski saw his follow-up effort well-blocked.
Obani picked up right where he left off causing plenty of problems for the Brunswick defence, almost putting City ahead once again in the 62nd minute, hitting the side-netting after a quick counter-attack.
Both sides traded chances for much of the second half, as City’s defence performed strongly while the finishing touch was all that was missing up the other end of the pitch.
Disappointingly for City, a very strong performance would go without reward, Brunswick scoring deep in stoppage time to secure all three points.
City will this week travel to CB Smith Reserve to face Pascoe Vale on Friday night, the clash set to kick-off at 8:15pm.