Melbourne City Youth have had their first hit out ahead of the Foxtel National Youth League taking on a Tasmanian representative team in Hobart. An equalising goal from Nathaniel Atkinson wasn’t enough as Ben Hamlett scored in the ninety second minute to give the locals a 2-1 win.
It was a City squad of new faces who travelled to Hobart to take on the representative side at the Home of Football in Hobart, KGV Park. Nathaniel Atkinson, who joined City in January this year from the Tasmanian NTC, caused havoc in the early stages of the match. City started off with some very attacking playing into the wind in horrific conditions. In just the fifth minute he almost found himself on the scoresheet heading the ball on target only to be denied with a goal line clearance.
Against the run of play, Darcy Hall found an opportunity for Tasmania as play opened up the City defence and he was one-on-one with City keeper James Delianov. He slid the ball craftily through the legs of the oncoming shot stopper and the locals took the lead in the thirteenth minute.
City continued their aggressive play in the final third and their efforts were lead by a very impress Gerrie Sylaidios on the right wing. In the twenty fifth minute he feed the ball into the area where Nathaniel Atkinson was waiting to launch the ball into the top of the net, equalising the scoreboard deficit.
Atkinson was in the action minutes later when he intercepted a poor back pass. He moved quickly into the area and dinked right only for a finger-tip save from the Tasmanian keeper preventing City from taking the lead.
On the break of half-time, Atkinson almost turned from hero to villain as when he was blinded and a casual 40m back pass to the keeper was intercepted easily by Brady Hall. The unmanned Hall found himself in the open, turned and progressed into the area but his shot was well saved by City keeper Delianov.
After the break, play was a lot more balanced with City no longer having the bulk of possession they enjoyed in the first half. Their attacking play didn’t slow and Sylaidios continued to cause trouble for the Tasmanian defence. Easily one of the best on the pitch for City, in the sixty fifth minute he found himself in a two-on-one with Zachary Bates however the latter held on to the ball too long enabling the Tasmanian defender Paul Stevens to block the cross and put it out for a corner.
The last solid opportunity for City came in the seventy first minute following some classy midfield passing. Yusuf Ahmed was setup well on the left of the area launching a left foot rocket towards the top corner. A dive and outstretched top hand of Tasmanian keeper Mark Grace was instrumental in stopping the shot and keeping the locals on an equal footing.
As the match entered the final ten minutes all of the momentum swung in favour of the home team. Nick Morton, who was part of South Melbourne FC’s squad in 2014, stepped up and started to have an influence on the match.
In the eighty second minute Morton was on the end of an impressive cross enabling him to nutmeg the City keeper and find the net, only for the referee to have adjudged the ball to be out of play prior to the cross. Just a minute later Morton had yet another opportunity less than a minute later when a defensive clearance was blocked and the resulting deflection landed at his feet. Two steps and the strike was on target however City gloveman Delianov responded well making the key save.
The minutes continued to tick down with Tasmania the stronger team pushing for the result. The match entered stoppage time and the scene was set for a dramatic finish.
Tasmanian keeper Mark Grace made an easy save and threw the ball out to the right side of the pitch. The midfielders made their way past the opposition and Ben Hamlett placed a crafty ball into the area to setup Darcy Hall. Hall made a pirouette move the Australian Ballet Company would be proud of, before centring the ball to Dominic Rossi. Rossi’s shot as desperately blocked which left the ball bobbling in the centre of the area.
It was perfectly suited for Ben ‘Hammer Time’ Hamlett who went from play-maker to superstar as he pounced on the loose ball. A deft right foot touch and then a left foot strike which Delianov couldn’t save, delivering the goal and win for Tasmania.
After the match, Tasmanian utility Nick Morton spoke to TCF sharing his thoughts on the match saying “it was a difficult game we knew we wouldn’t see a lot of the ball so we needed to try and press them as high up the ground as possible it worked a few times where we probably should have scored 1 or 2 more goals.”
“Overall I thought City played some neat football while being unlucky not to score a few themselves! The wind was outrageous, probably the worst I’ve played in but it’s the same for both teams who tried to handle it to the best of there abilities. I thought Kobe Kemp scraped well in the middle of the park, and Darcy Hall made some decisive runs forward and scored!”
Melbourne City could not be reached for comment after the match.
Melbourne City Youth Line Up
James Delianov (GK), Ali Elygun, Austin Wong, Bradley Clarke, Connor Metcalfe, Gerrie Sylaidios, Jordan Hall, Leo Athanasiou, Nathaniel Atkinson, Yusuf Ahmed, Dylan Pierias. Substitutes: Kobe Timms, Lucas Portelli, Zachary Bates, Mersin Memeti, Alex Petropoulos.
Coach: Joe Palatsides
Match Footage: Football Federation Tasmania TV