A brace to the red-hot Raphael Borges Rodrigues saw Melbourne City make it three wins in a row in the NPL2 on Saturday afternoon against Kingston City.
Just a fortnight after scoring four against Langwarrin, Raphael was on target twice in the second half for the game’s only goals in what was a hard-fought win.
Head Coach Crisdion Krstevski made three changes to his line-up for the away trip to Kingston.
A-League Men’s young guns Raphael and Max Caputo both returned to the squad and were straight into the starting XI, while Harrison Shillington also came in at right full-back.
Starting XI: 90. William SPARROW, 45. Harrison SHILLINGTON, 17. Sebastian ESPOSITO, 13. Kerrin STOKES, 12. Harry POLITIDIS (C), 16. Emile PEIOS, 7. Luke ORESTI, 8. Emin DURAKOVIC, 21. Ben MAZZEO, 10. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, 23. Max CAPUTO.
Substitutes: 15. Adrian SINAGRA (GK), 5. Jordan DELLIDIS, 38. James RALLIS, 44. Tobenna OBANI, 48. Medin MEMETI, 99. Giorgio SERDENES.
It was an even start to the fixture with neither side threatening the opposition penalty area too much in the early stages.
City’s defence was called into action after 15 minutes when a pair of chances fell to Kingston, but Kerrin Stokes and Sebastian Esposito did well to clear the danger.
The impressive Kingston outfit then started to heap the pressure on the City back four from there. Led by captain Harry Politidis, the well-drilled City side coped well with the numerous attacks and ensured there wasn’t a way through.
Goalkeeper William Sparrow was called into action a few minutes before half time, making a sharp reflex save to ensure the score line remained 0-0 at the break.
City began the second half positively and took just seven minutes to break the deadlock.
A well-worked move saw Ben Mazzeo find space on the right and then spot Raphael’s back-post run, before putting in the perfect cross to his opposite winger who finished with a cool volley past the goalkeeper.
The visiting City side continued to be good value in the second half following the opener, looking livelier and asking questions of the Kingston defence more frequently than it had in the first 45 minutes.
There were chances at both ends on either side of the hour mark as the intensity picked up further.
Mazzeo continued to be dangerous down the right-hand side and forced a good diving save from the Kingston goalkeeper, before half-time substitute Jordan Dellidis made a good block at the other end of the pitch to ensure City stayed ahead.
The second would once again come courtesy of Raphael, thanks to a moment of magic from the 19-year-old.
He received on the edge of the box and after taking a second to sum up his options, tried his luck and caught the keeper off guard for what was his sixth goal in his past two appearances.
Politidis led from the front in the latter stages, showing his ability to get forward and creating two great chances for City to extend its lead.
A driving run down the left in the 73rd-minute saw Giorgio Serdenes get a chance to make it 3-0, but he couldn’t beat the ‘keeper who reacted quickly to keep Kingston in the contest.
The skipper then showed the defensive side of his game, winning the ball back and releasing Raphael down the left. The Dutch-born forward almost added an assist to cap off his brace, but Luke Oresti couldn’t make Kingston pay at the back post and missed the target.
It wouldn’t matter for too much though, with City able to see out the 2-0 win and take home the three points.
City will be back in action next Sunday afternoon, set to host sixth-placed Northcote City for a 3pm kick-off.