Melbourne City FC’s NPL3 side managed to down high-flying Doveton SC on their home turf on Saturday, running out 0-4 winners following a brilliant performance over the 90 minutes.
A theme of City’s season so far, the goals were spread evenly with one each to Lucas Byrns, Max Caputo, Raphael Borges Rodrigues and Taras Gomulka.
With the game preceding the A-League Melbourne Derby by just a few hours, several senior squad regulars were unavailable for Saturday’s NPL clash, with Stefan Colakovski, Marco Tilio and Matthew Sutton all missing from the starting line-up.
Taras Gomulka took the armband as the trio were replaced by Lucas Byrns, Moonib Adus and Ahmad Taleb respectively.
Here's how we line up to face Doveton:
3. Kerrin STOKES
4. Alec MILLS
5. Jordan BOS
6. Jordi VALADON
7. Lucas BYRNS
11. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES
15. Charbel SHAMOON
16. Taras GOMULKA (C)
19. Max CAPUTO
21. Moonib ADUS
42. Ahmad TALEB (GK)
— Melbourne City Youth – LIVE (@MelbCityYouth) April 17, 2021
Facing off with one of the league’s early-season leaders was always going to make for a tough contest and that was exactly how the clash started with neither side able to gain the ascendancy early on.
Following an opening 15 minutes void of any significant chances, it was Taras Gomulka who created City’s opener with a brilliant volleyed through-ball from midfield that Lucas Byrns was able to nick off the toes of the intercepting defender, before finishing clinically into the bottom corner.
Byrns’ used his pace well again in the 27th as he was found with another through-ball from midfield, this time volleying his effort and forcing an intelligent reflex save from the Doveton keeper.
The right-winger continued his brilliant start to the game in the 30th minute, whipping in a left-footed cross to find the head of Max Caputo, with the striker able to glance his header into the bottom corner.
Whilst Doveton were effective in transition, they often couldn’t hold onto the ball long enough to get a respite from City’s relentless pressure that kept them on the back foot.
Ahmad Taleb was called into action on the stroke of half-time, diving to tip away a Doveton shot bound for the bottom left corner, the keeper’s heroics ensuring City held the two-goal lead heading into the break.
Doveton recovered after the break to make a strong start, earning the better opportunities in the opening 15 minutes of the second half as City struggled to regain its dominance.
With Doveton well and truly back in the contest – even if not on the scoreline yet – the game took on a physical edge, with some crunching tackles laid by either team.
A City turnover in midfield almost saw the home side pull one back but the eventual shot trailed narrowly wide from just inside the area.
The Doveton resistance was eventually ended by Raphael Borges Rodrigues in the 76th minute, with the attacker receiving the ball in the area and picking out the bottom left corner with his clinical finish.
The goal allowed City to slow the game down and retain the ball for longer periods, but Doveton fought to stay in the contest and were unlucky to concede a fourth in the 91st minute.
Byrns’ initial effort was well-saved, only for Gomulka to latch on to the loose ball and smash it into the back of the net, the clash finishing 0-4 in favour of the visiting team.
City’s NPL 3 side have now recorded three wins in a row and are set to face Box Hill United away from home in Round 5.