City will complete their four-game home stand on Saturday when they are visited by Western Conference foes Sunshine George Cross SC in round 21 of the PS4 NPL2 season.
The first three games of the home stand have thus far produced a win, a loss, and a draw for Melbourne City – with round 20 seeing City secure a late draw with Eastern Lions SC.
After going ahead one goal to nil after 14 minutes through Ali Eyigun – City nonetheless found themselves down two goals to one in the dying minutes of play after Yianni Toumanidis collected a brace for the visiting Lions.
A point was salvaged however when Zachary Bates – who came on as a 64th-minute substitute for Marko Delic – scored his first goal for City’s NPL side this season in the 87th-minute to secure a vital point for the hosts.
While only collecting the one point sees the gap between City and Dandenong City and the Dandenong Thunder – who beat the Springvale White Eagles and Box Hill United in their round 20 games – at the top of the table grow; the point does stretch out the gap between City and fourth- and fifth-placed Murray United and the Goulburn Valley Suns to four points.
The two regional sides played each other in round 20 – with the Suns picking up the one-nil win in the State Border Derby.
Round 21 opponents Sunshine George Cross SC come into the clash in fifth position on the NPL2 Western Conference table, sitting on 29 points after collecting eight wins, five draws and seven losses thus far during their campaign.
The Sunshine-based side – who played in the National Soccer League from 1984 to 1992 and count luminaries such as Paul Trimboli and Kevin Muscat as alumni – are coached by Tony Ciantar and come into the clash off the back of two straight wins – defeating Box Hill United two goals to nil (Who drew with City two all in their round 15 clash) in round 18 and Bendigo City (Who City beat eight goals to two in round 19) in round 20.
The Georgies – led this season by standouts Chris Dib and Barry Devlin – have improved significantly on the 2016 campaign that saw them finish ninth on the PS4NPL2 Western Conference with only 23 points.
City last met the Georgies as hosts in round 28 of the 2016 season – when City still played in the Western Conference.
A brace by Bates as well as goals to Gerrie Sylaidos and Connor Metcalfe were enough for City to run out with a four goals to nil win on that day.
The meeting between the two sides this Saturday will kick-off at 3.00 pm on Pitch One at LaTrobe University in Bundoora.
The game will be preceded by a curtain raiser between the two clubs’ highly ranked U20 sides.
Six points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference table, City’s U20s will nonetheless be looking to bounce back – after suffering their first defeat since March in last week’s two goals to nil defeat at the hands of the Eastern Lions U20 side.
The task will not be easy against the Georgies’ U20s – who currently sit in third place on the Western Conference table only two points back on league leaders Melbourne Victory whilst possessing a game in hand.
NPL Victoria – Round 20
Melbourne City vs Sunshine George Cross SC
Saturday 1 July
LaTrobe University (Pitch One), Bundoora
Seniors: 3.00 pm Under 20s: 12.30pm