NPL Report: City 6-3 Eastern Lions

Melbourne City recorded its second win in three games to begin the NPL2 season on Sunday, knocking off Eastern Lions 6-3 at Parade College.

City went in ahead at the break through goals from Max Caputo and Emile Peios, before a seesawing second half saw goals aplenty.

Team News

Head Coach Crisdion Krstevski made four changes to the starting side that took on Bulleen last week.

Starting XI: 23. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 45. Harrison SHILLINGTON, 13. Kerrin STOKES, 5. Jordan DELLIDIS (C), 2. Dom FOLINO, 16. Emile PEIOS, 6. Justin PAOLILLI, 26. Marcus HUMBERT, 99. Giorgio SERDENES, 11. Patrick HOGAN, 15. Max CAPUTO.

Substitutes: 20. Adrian SINAGRA (GK), 4. Joshua DAMEVSKI, 14 Dante SICCITA, 18 Taylan UNAL, 21. Ben MAZZEO, 38. James RALLIS.

What happened?

Playing at home for the first time this season, City started well and almost went ahead in the sixth minute through a Max Caputo strike from a tight angle that smashed into the post.

City managed to control possession for large parts of the first half and particularly early on, not having to wait too long to find an opener.

A well-worked corner routine caught the Eastern defence napping, allowing Caputo to stream through the box unmarked to tap home a well-placed cross to open scoring in the 18th minute.

The likes of Emile Peios, Justin Paolilli and Marcus Humbert impressed in midfield for City, allowing it to continue to control the game.

Peios added his name to the scoresheet just after the half-hour mark to double City’s advantage and ensure the scoreboard began to reflect its dominance in general play.

That two-goal advantage was short-lived though, when a shallow Eastern corner was flicked on to the back post and tapped home by Jack Kamper just before half time.

The visiting Lions side came out rejuvenated in the second half after that goal, putting plenty of pressure on the City backline.

Led by Kerrin Stokes and skipper for the day Jordan Dellidis, the defence stood up strongly and cleared the danger.

City then was able to capitalise with a swift counterattack in the 57th, substitute Ben Mazzeo driving down the left wing and finding the bottom corner at the near post to make it 3-1.

Crisdion Krstevski’s side was far from content with being two goals ahead though, heaping the pain on with another less than 10 minutes later.

A well-worked move all the way from the back saw the ball make its way to Peios in midfield who then played a lovely lofted ball over the defence to Humbert, who made no mistake, sliding a cool finish past the keeper.

A drinks break immediately followed with the game all but put to bed with around half an hour to play.

Eastern wasn’t ready to lie down though, striking immediately following that brief pause to pull it back to 4-2.

The action went up another notch from there as the Lions drove forward in search of another to further reduce the deficit.

City was able to repel the danger and quickly transition with Mazzeo again causing troubles down the left, crossing to a waiting Peios in the box, whose header was only denied by a brilliant save from Lions shot-stopper Keegan Coulter.

The goals would continue to come, with Eastern pulling another back in the 80th minute to make it 4-3 and set up a frantic end to the contest.

Suddenly put under plenty of pressure, it was a professional display from Krstevski’s side in the latter stages to ensure it would seal the three points.

Plenty of numbers were thrown into the Eastern box for an 86th-minute corner which was well-defended and saw City launch a fast counter.

With the defence out of place, City was able to quickly transition with Mazeo finding the final pass to fellow substitute Taylan Unal, who made no mistake in making it 5-3 and ensuring the game was finally out of reach.

Just for good measure though, one more goal was added before the full-time whistle thanks to another precise team move.

City was able to hold the ball for a long period, pulling the Eastern defence all over the pitch, before Joshua Damevski cut back to Dante Siccita to make it six.

What’s next?

City will next take on Brunswick away from home next Saturday’s as it looks to continue to build momentum in the early stages of the season.