City extended its winning streak to three games in the NPL3 with a 2-1 victory over North Sunshine at Parade College on Saturday afternoon.
Luke Oresti stuck in both halves as City were made hard to fight for another important three points to remain on top of the table.
Head Coach John Maisano made just two change to his starting line-up, with James Nieuwenhuizen returning between the sticks to replace the recently departed Ahmad Taleb and Max Caputo back in the XI in place of the injured Arion Sulemani.
Starting XI: 40. James NIEUWENHUIZEN (GK), 4. Dom FOLINO, 27. Sebastian ESPOSITO, 13. Jordan DELLIDIS, 12. Harry POLITIDIS (C), 21. Emin DURAKOVIC, 26. Justin PAOLILLI, 6. Jordi VALADON, 8. Luke ORESTI, 14. Moonib ADUS, 9. Max CAPUTO.
Substitutes: 30. Michael VONJA (GK), 3. Kerrin STOKES, 18. Matthew GRIMALDI, 23. Harrison SHILLINGTON, 28. Dante SICCITA, 43. Joshua DAMEVSKI, 44. Tobena OBANI.
It was the travelling North Sunshine who got off to the better start of the two teams, putting City’s defence on the back foot right from the opening whistle.
Nieuwenhuizen was called into action twice in the opening minutes, reacting well on both occasions to deny the visitors what would’ve been a crucial early goal.
After a slow start, City was able to wrestle some possession and momentum back, going close to finding the opener against the run of play in the seventh minute.
Continuing his good recent form, Moonib Adus found Caputo in the box who was just centimetres away from finding the first of the day, seeing his header cleared off the goal-line.
Nieuwenhuizen was again exceptional for City minutes later, this time pulling off a spectacular diving save to keep scores level.
After plenty of early chances, the opening goal would come in the 17th minute.
City skipper Harry Politidis drove down the left wing before switching the ball intelligently to Luke Oresti on the opposite flank, who unleashed a low-driven strike that the keeper couldn’t keep out of the net.
The lead wouldn’t last long as North Sunshine hit back just two minutes later, Nick Epifano firing home on the half-volley from close range after City failed to clear the prior corner.
A fast paced half continued and City almost took back the lead in the 30th when Jordi Valadon had the ball in the back of the net after a chip over the keeper, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
The second half picked up much the same as the first ended, Adus almost finding City’s second.
The winger started inside his own half and went on a barnstorming run down the wing all the way into the penalty box, before he saw his first effort on goal saved and the follow up attempt cleared off the goal line.
It continued to be an even contest with plenty of attacking at both ends of the pitch as City was often forced to defend before finally taking back the lead in the 69th minute.
On the same day it was announced he’d signed a two-year Scholarship contract with City’s senior team, Emin Durakovic found the crucial pass into the box, teeing up Oresti who brought it down on his chest and fired home into the bottom corner to make it 2-1.
Durakovic almost added to his growing assist tally not long after, finding Caputo unmarked in the box with another cross from the left wing, but the striker was unable to get his effort on target.
North Sunshine pressed hard for the equaliser throughout the final 20 minutes, but a strong defensive performance from City ensured they wouldn’t have many sights at goal as the final whistle eventually blew with the scoreline still 2-1.
City faces a road trip next weekend, taking on Geelong SC away from home on Saturday night. City currently sits atop the NPL3 table with six fixtures remaining this season, while Geelong currently sits sixth.