NPL Report: Whittlesea 2-1 City


Melbourne City FC suffered a tough defeat against Whittlesea Ranges on Saturday in its return to NPL3 action, the home side taking all three points thanks to goals from Yanni Barberoglou and Dimitri Kosmas.

Starting XI

There were three alterations from the last lineup that Petr Kratky named earlier in the month, with Matthew Sutton, Tim Boke and Alexander Menelaou dropping out for Ahmad Taleb (who captained the side), Kerrin Stokes and Lucas Byrns. Kratky had plenty of quality on the bench, with A-League squad regulars Raphael Borges Rodrigues, Taras Gomulka and Alec Mills all named as substitutes.

What happened?

Aside from a pair of optimistic efforts from distance for both sides in the early minutes, the opening stages of the game were largely contested in midfield with the competing teams not yet able to make inroads into their opponent’s area.

Harry Politidis’ 13th-minute effort from range was the first meaningful strike of the encounter with the winger forcing a smart overhead save from Whittlesea’s Abdulkerim Koc.

A pair of good chances followed for either side just a handful of minutes later, starting with Ibrahima Soumah’s set-piece effort for the home side which was comfortably claimed by Taleb in goal. Soon after, Matthew Grimaldi had a brilliant chance from the edge of the six-yard box, firing his effort straight at Koc who was able to make a sharp save with his feet.

With the game having opened up, it was Whittlesea who would strike first courtesy of Yanni Barberoglou when the forward curled his shot past Taleb to find the back of the net in the 23rd minute.

City’s fortunes didn’t get much better in the 28th when a defensive clearance was smashed into the back of our own player, causing the ball to fall perfectly for Dimitri Kosmas who finished uncontested inside the six-yard box.

The home side nearly had a third first-half goal in the 35th minute when Thomas Cahill found separation from his marker to latch onto the floated free-kick and head narrowly past the upright.

Just as the half-time scoreline looked set to be an ominous one, City were able to strike back late through Max Caputo who capped a brilliant, flowing team move with a classy first-time finish in stoppage time.

With Whittlesea having dominated the latter stages of the first half, the changes were rung by Petr Kratky following the break. Borges Rodrigues, Gomulka and Mills all came on to replace Byrns, Grimaldi and Folino.

City, inspired by the changes, made the faster start of the two sides with Borges Rodrigues and Politidis combining well to cross in for Caputo, whose off-balance shot was lofted narrowly over the crossbar.

Having proven a dangerous set-piece taker already this season, Gomulka forced a good save from Koc following his 67th minute free-kick, with the Whittlesea keeper springing into action again just a few minutes later to deny Caputo’s strike from the edge of the area.

City continued to pepper the Whittlesea goal throughout the half, with Koc pulling off an incredible reflex save to keep out Borges Rodrigues in the 79th minute, before denying Jordi Valadon from close-range just a minute later.

Taleb would join in on the goalkeeping heroics in the 82nd, stretching to pull off a fingertip save from Cahill’s rifled effort from distance to keep City in the hunt. The action would prove fruitless in the end, however, with the scoreline still reading 2-1 by the final whistle.

What’s next?

The boys will have an opportunity to get themselves back on the winners list when they take on Geelong SC at home next Saturday.