City on Saturday afternoon finished its NPL3 season in style, recording a strong 6-2 win over Springvale.
Jordan Dellidis, Raphael Borges Rodrigues, Matthew Grimaldi and Luke Oresti were all on the scoresheet in the first half, with Raphael and Oresti again finding the back of the net in the second 45.
Head Coach John Maisano named a strong starting line-up for his team’s final fixture of the season. James Nieuwenhuizen returned in between the sticks in place of Matthew Sutton, while Jordan Dellidis replaced Dom Folino in defence.
Starting XI: 40. James NIEUWENHUIZEN (GK), 3. Kerrin STOKES, 13. Jordan DELLIDIS, 27. Sebastian ESPOSITO, 12. Harry POLITIDIS (C), 26. Justin PAOLILLI, 21 Emin DURAKOVIC, 6. Jordi VALADON, 8. Luke ORESTI, 10. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, 18. Matthew GRIMALDI.
Substitutes: 41. Luke SAUNDERS (GK), 7. Lucas BYRNS, 23. Harrison SHILLINGTON, 43. Joshua DAMEVSKI, 44. Tobenna OBANI.
Still an unlikely Championship chance at the time of kick-off (a win plus a Preston loss required), City looked composed in the early stages of the contest and controlled the match well.
City’s back four looked well set-up and Kerrin Stokes showcased his versatility in defence, deployed at right-back for this fixture.
Despite the early stages being all City, Springvale shocked the visitors in the 10th minute and took the lead through a well taken Ohisa Paulino goal.
Desperate to play its part in ensuring a top of the table finish was still on the cards, an equaliser would come for City just minutes later via a set piece.
Emin Durakovic added another to his 2021/22 assist tally, finding an unmarked Jordan Dellidis with a perfectly placed cross which the defender was able to head home from close range.
City was able to then take the lead in the 16th minute, Raphael this time the man on the scoresheet.
Young defender Sebastian Esposito spotted the forwards run and picked him out with a perfect ball over the defence, before Raphael showed his class with a cool finish across the goalkeeper to give City the advantage.
Justin Paolilli was impressive in midfield for City, allowing his team to hold possession and ensure it had plenty of opportunities on goal.
Maisano’s team as a whole impressed with its pressing, players across the pitch working hard in the first half to ensure City was able to win the ball back early.
Another pair of goals in quick succession before the break would ensure City entered half time full of confidence.
Similar to the second goal, Stokes this time played the crucial ball from defence in the 38th minute, allowing Politidis to find space in behind and square up a cross to Matthew Grimaldi at the back post who made no mistake from close range.
Grimaldi was involved again for the next goal just five minutes later, threading a pass to Durakovic who popped a cross over the onrushing keeper for Luke Oresti to finish.
The hosts came out looking a much-improved outfit early in the second half, holding possession far better than it did earlier in the contest and forcing City to defend.
That being said, City did settle relatively quick and was able to re-take the momentum.
While far from the prettiest goal he’ll score in his career, Raphael had his second of the afternoon in the 62nd minute.
The 18-year-old was well found by Oresti, before rounding the goalkeeper and eventually bundling the ball over the line as a Springvale defender almost made a crucial block on the goal line.
Springvale found a consolation goal not long after thanks to a City turnover in a dangerous area, allowing Nashir Hussainy to find the back of the net and make it 5-2.
Oresti once again joined the party in the 72nd minute, netting his second of the day after some lovely work from Lucas Byrns in the build-up.
The hard-working winger put in a strong challenge to win the ball back in midfield, then used some quick feet to play Oresti through who’s shot across the keeper made it six for City after taking a touch off the inside of the post.
While both teams did have chances at goal in the final 20 minutes, neither could add to the score line as City’s season would ultimately come to an end with a 6-2 win.
A win to Preston meant no Championship for City this season, but with an extremely young squad, a second placed finish and automatic promotion to NPL2 will go down as an impressive season for Maisano’s squad.