Melbourne City FC continued its strong NPL3 season with a 1-4 win away to Geelong on Saturday night.
Despite trailing at half time, the visiting City side put in a strong second half performance to come home with all three points.
Head Coach John Maisano made two changes to his starting XI, with Kerrin Stokes and Matthew Grimaldi coming into the line-up in place of Sebastian Esposito and Luke Oresti.
Starting XI: 40. James NIEUWENHUIZEN (GK), 4. Dom FOLINO, 3. Kerrin STOKES, 13. Jordan DELLIDIS, 12. Harry POLITIDIS (C), 21. Emin DURAKOVIC, 26. Justin PAOLILLI, 6. Jordi VALADON, 18. Matthew GRIMALDI, 14. Moonib ADUS, 9. Max CAPUTO.
Substitutes: 41. Luke SAUNDERS (GK), 7. Lucas BYRNS, 23. Harrison SHILLINGTON, 43. Joshua DAMEVSKI, 44. Tobena OBANI.
City looked organised from the outset, starting the game well despite neither team being able to fashion any clear-cut chances in the early stages.
Grimaldi looked threatening for the visitors going forward, making the most of his return to the starting line-up.
Although City did start the better of the two teams, it was Geelong who saw the first few clear sights on goal.
James Nieuwenhuizen reacted quickly to make a comfortable save from a long-range strike in the 17th minute, before again being called into action less than 10 minutes later to make a strong stop.
Unfortunately for Nieuwenhuizen and City, Geelong were able to find the opener not long after. Jayden Iliovski’s set piece from long-range deceived the City keeper in flight, with Nieuwenhuizen’s attempted tip over the bar ending up in the back of the net.
City did look immediately better following the goal, seeming full of energy and putting plenty of pressure on the Geelong defence.
While it couldn’t force the crucial mistake in the remainder of the first half, it didn’t take long for an equaliser to come following kick-off in the second 45.
Emin Durakovic’s brilliant season continued as he added another to his growing assist tally. The young midfielder spotted the run of Moonib Adus on the left, before playing the winger in with Adus taking a touch to round the keeper and finding the back of the net via the inside of the post.
City did all the attacking in the second half, with a performance that reflected its ladder position much more than what was displayed in the first half.
Durakovic was again involved in City’s second, which arrived in the 75th minute, making something out of the nothing – firing home into the bottom corner after the ball bobbled had around the edge of the box.
Two became three just moments later, with full-back Harry Politidis scoring what was the goal of the night. City’s skipper received the ball just inside the attacking half, before going on a long driving run down the left wing through the Geelong defence and finishing a great solo goal.
City continued to show its class throughout the encounter with Max Caputo the next to join the party in the 82nd minute. Kerrin Stokes initially went close to scoring, seeing his close-range header saved following the set-piece, but Caputo positioned himself in the right spot at the right time to tap home his eight goal of the season.
With time winding down, City continued to push for more goals and almost ended the second half the same way it started it. Caputo did have the ball in the back of the net just seconds before full time, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside as the clash finished 1-4.
City’s win at the weekend sees it maintain a four-point buffer atop the NPL3 table with just five matches remaining the season.
The team will now shift its focus to a home clash against 5th-placed Nunawading City this Saturday afternoon.