IT may have come away without any points in Sunday's season opener, but there was plenty to like about Ballarat's City's first match in NPL3 for season 2021.
The 1-0 defeat can pretty much be attributed to the performance of former Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Michael Theo, who defied father-time with a series of strong saves, including one in the 93rd minute which denied Ballarat City a much deserved equaliser.
City went into the match missing star midfielder Charlie King, who was stamped on in a pre-season tackle and is expected to be out until after Easter and would lose defender Xagai Douhadji in the first half to a hamstring injury, which the club will get scanned this week.
So despite the loss, city coach Adam Grinholz still saw plenty of positives against a team that looks set to once again be a power player in the competition.
"It was an intense game, a tight game that's for sure," he said. "It was one of those contests where a moment would decide the game.
"Sometimes it's like that, it's just who takes advantage of that.
"Unfortunately we went down one end and a header just went passed the post and they took it down the other end they scored a minute later."
Grinholz said there were some clear areas the side could be improve in coming weeks, pointing to creativity and the ability to hold onto the ball longer without turning it over.
He said he saw Nunawading as one of the sides to beat
"They have experience, they're all grown men and adults," he said. "They are going to be difficult for a lot of other teams to play with, with their 3-4-3 set-up.
"They have the wise heads that never get flustered. They'll be a team if you're in a tight game, they know there will be no reason to panic. You've just got to be wary of a team like that."
It was also a solid start for the under 21s who picked up a point with a 1-1 draw with Nunawading. It was an 86th minute equaliser from Liam Dawson that allowed city to secure the point, however the news wasn't as good for the under 19s who went down 4-1. Ballarat City plays North Sunshine Eagles at St Albans on Saturday.
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