NPL Report: Eastern Lions 1-2 City

Late drama saw Melbourne City record its fifth win in its last six NPL2 fixtures on Saturday against Eastern Lions.

Marcus Humbert opened scoring early in the contest, with the scoreline unchanged until the final minutes. Eastern found the equaliser in the 85th, but a last-gasp Ben Mazzeo header in stoppage time sealed all three points for City.

Team News

Head Coach Crisdion Krstevski was missing a few regulars due to A-League Men’s duty, but still had plenty of talent out on the pitch.

Starting XI: 90. William SPARROW (GK), 45. Harrison SHILLINGTON, 4. Joshua DAMEVSKI, 5. Jordan DELLIDIS (C), 2. Dom FOLINO, 17. Sebastian ESPOSITO, 16. Emile PEIOS, 43. Marcus HUMBERT, 99. Giorgio SERDENES, 48. Medin MEMETI, 44. Tobenna OBANNI.

Substitutes: 15. Adrian SINAGRA (GK), 14. Taylan UNAL, 21. Ben MAZZEO, 24. Alec BECVINOVSKI, 46. Ryan KALMS, 74. Zachary CIANCI.

What happened?

The possession was all in City’s favour early, as Krstevski’s side felt its way into the contest and didn’t give Eastern a sniff in the opening exchanges.

Some pinball in the box eventually saw the ball spill out to Tobenna Obani, who’s cross was met by a glancing Medin Memeti header which was well-saved.

The opener would come in the 23rd minute, with City able to capitalise on the momentum midway through the half.

A lovely build-up down the right saw an exchange of passes, before full-back Harry Shillington found Marcus Humbert in space at the top of the box.

Humbert took a touch and a split second to sum things up, before lashing a strike towards goal that the Eastern keeper could do little about.

The hosts did start to see a little more of the action in the latter stages of the half, but it wouldn’t amount to much with City’s back four looking strong.

Eastern picked up where it left off early in the second half, City goalkeeper William Sparrow called into his first meaningful action of the afternoon in the 50th minute.

Rushing out to meet the strike, Sparrow pulled off a great reflex save to deny the Lions attacker who had been played through with a smart ball.

Both sides had periods of dominance throughout the second half, although neither defence allowed any clear-cut scoring chances – at least until the contest’s final moments.

City’s defence finally came undone in the 85th minute thanks to a through ball down the right-hand-side, which Eastern’s Andrew Le Page finished with a worldie of a curling strike from outside of the box into the top corner.

Despite copping that late equaliser, City’s heads didn’t drop – quite the opposite in fact – stepping things up a level in search of a winner.

Plenty of pressure was placed on the Eastern defence, and the dam wall burst four minutes into added time.

A typical hard City press turned the ball over in midfield, with numbers then streaming forward.

Emile Peios found space and time on the right, then whipped in a pinpoint cross to find Mazzeo’s back-post run perfectly, the young winger almost horizontal when he connected with a flying header which slammed into the top corner and secured the win.

What’s next?

City will be looking to continue its climb up the table this Saturday, hosting 11th-placed Brunswick City at Parade College.