Zebras strike late to deny City, but reason to be positive

On paper a 2-2 draw away from home with National Premier League two west top two side Moreland Zebras was a pleasing result, but it could have been so much more for City.

Goals Dom Swinton from and Michael Trigger gave City a 2-0 lead and a memorable victory looked to be gaining momentum. However, City conceded an own goal and then the Zebras converted from a set piece in the dying stages of the match to share the points.

Victory snared away from City at the death, just as it was against another top side in Dandenong City two weeks ago, but the overriding emotion for coach Danny Gnjidic was one of positivity. 

“For me it was a contrast (of emotions),” Gnjidic said.

“Straight after the game I was disappointed that we didn’t get the three points, but within 60 seconds I was thinking what an outstanding performance it was.

“We would’ve taken a point (before the game), it was important we came out of the game with something.

“The game in itself was one we were very disappointed not to of won.

“(But) it’s a really satisfying performance, away to a good side, you take the point and hopefully the boys take all the positives from it.

“As a collective, it was outstanding.”

The NPL season is a long one, 28 matches. City breaks its campaign up into seven-week blocks and Gnjidic admits the opening two blocks have not been to the level it was hoping for – underlined by four losses in a row through April –  but a win and Saturday’s draw has been a promising start to City’s third quarter.

Shaun Romein

Shaun Romein

“We haven’t met our targets in the first two, but we’re not far off. Our last seven games, we’ve only lost one.

“Outside of that spell where we lost four out of four and got knocked out of the (FFA) cup, there’s been some real consistency in the performances, there’s an improvement now.”

Last year City took no points off the top three of either conference, it already has three (three draws).

“We spoke at the start of the year about really needing to improve our competitiveness against the top sides – and we’ve done that.

“There’s improvement there, it’s a gradual process. Is it a dramatic improvement, no, but we’ve got a lot of young players that are starting to believe that they’re capable of being a good team at this level.

“That’s where my positivity comes from, we genuinely believe we’re on the right path.”

City takes on middle-of-the-table eastern conference team Langwarrin next week.