Melbourne City got life in NPL2 off to a great start with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Northcote City on Friday night.
Despite going down early, Emin Durakovic clawed a goal back with a rocket from outside the box later in the first half, before Max Caputo found the eventual winner in the second 45.
Head Coach Crisdion Krstevski named a strong starting XI for the team’s first match of the season.
A-League Men contracted players James Nieuwenhuizen, Jordon Hall, Emin Durakovic, Luke Oresti and Max Caputo were all named in the line-up.
Starting XI: 1. James NIEUWENHUIZEN (GK, C), 2. Dom FOLINO, 3. Jordon HALL, 5. Jordan DELLIDIS, 8. Emin DURAKOVIC, 26. Emile PEIOS, 7. Luke ORESTI, 11. Patrick HOGAN, 15. Max CAPUTO, 17. Sebastian ESPOSITO, 45. Harrison SHILLINGTON.
Substitutes: 90.William SPARROW (GK), 4. Joshua DAMEVSKI, 6. Justin PAOLILLI, 21. Benjamin MAZZEO, 38. James RALLIS, 99. Giorgio SERDENES.
The season couldn’t have gotten off to a much worse start than conceding in the third minute, when Nicholas Sette was able to take full advantage of City coughing up the ball at the back.
To their credit, the young City side got on the front foot immediately after the goal, working their way into the game in search of a quick reply.
An Emin Durakovic corner picked out the head of Max Caputo well in the 9th minute, but the striker’s header was expertly saved by Northcote goalkeeper Brandon Cuminao, who also pulled off a great reaction save to deny Emile Peios’ follow-up attempt.
James Nieuwenhuizen was forced into an important save in the 20th minute but other than that, it was City who looked the better team for the remainder of the first half.
The equaliser would soon come in the 24th, courtesty of a moment of magic from Durakovic.
The 17-year-old midfielder received a long way from goal and took a few purposeful touches forward before unleashing a rocket from well outside the box that nestled into the top corner.
Another big moment came less than 10 minutes later when Patrick Hogan was brought down in the box and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty, but Caputo’s spot-kick was well saved by Cuminao who got down quickly low to his left.
The game opened up even further in the second half as both teams saw their chances in an end-to-end affair in search of the crucial goal.
It was Durakovic again involved this time as the provider, whipping a dangerous cross into the box right on the hour mark.
The Northcote defence struggled to deal with the danger and Caputo was in the right spot at the right time to finish from close range to make it 2-1.
City’s backline was under plenty of pressure for the remainder of the contest with tensions peaking as challenges flew in from both sides.
Led by Jordon Hall and Jordan Dellidis, City’s defence passed all of its tests with flying colours, seeing off a late set-piece on the edge of the box to walk away with a big three points to begin its season.
You’ll next be able to see City in NPL2 action next Monday night when it takes on Bulleen Lions at Veneto Club.