The last time Boston City FC hosted New England soccer foe Hartford City FC, the visitors ended the Lions’ season with a last-minute goal in a dramatic playoff clash. The fierce National Premier Soccer League rivalry resumes this Saturday at Brother Gilbert Stadium at 7pm.

The Colts’ 2-1 win last July halted Boston City’s playoff aspirations and tied the series between the clubs at 1-1-1. Similarly, this season Hartford City can play the spoiler against a home team eager to secure three points to resurrect a campaign that has stuttered unexpectedly with one draw and three defeats, including two on home soil.

Key central defender Marcelo Cunha returns from suspension, as does head coach Palhinha, who was forced to watch from the stands last weekend as his side lost to the Brooklyn Italians.

By contrast, Hartford City (4-0-0) is currently the seventh-ranked team in the nation in the NPSL having won all four league matches so far this season, with Sebastian Stezewski the top scorer with three goals and Mark Grant on two.

Boston City midfielder Isaac Addai was his club’s top scorer in 2017 with 13 goals and has found the net once this term, as has 2016 leading scorer Homero Morais. Both were on target in the 2-2 draw at TSF last month.

The rivalry built up over three matches played last season saw the Lions win 3-1 at home, when Addai scored a hat-trick, and draw 3-3 away, with goals from Addai, Gabriel De Souza and Kevin Herrera, in the regular season clashes. The Colts, who took a 2-1 victory from Malden Catholic with a late winner from Paulinton Johnson.

A rivalry also exists between the respective supporters’ groups, the Ironsides Crew faithful of Boston City and Hartford City fans the Agents of Hale, whose banter and vocal encouragement is certain to liven up an already potentially exciting encounter.

Boston City FC partner WeGotSoccer has World Cup sticker albums to be distributed to every fan in attendance at the National Premier Soccer League match. Tickets are available at http://www.bostoncityfc.com/news/tickets/.

Notes: All three players who scored in last season’s Hartford City 2-1 playoff win are still with their respective squads: Michael Rincon (BCFC), Rafael Junqueira and Paulinton Johnson (HCFC)… Hartford City has beaten Elm City 2-1, Brooklyn Italians 3-0, Kingston Stockade 3-2 and Seacoast United Mariners 2-0 this season… An injury to Boston City keeper Vitor Scariot, who came off the bench to make his first appearance of the season last week, means that goalkeeping coach Estive Sosa will return the playing squad. He played for the Lions in 2016, starting once in a 5-2 loss at Brooklyn Italians… The Lions have used in 4 goalkeepers in 4 games this season: Wouter Dronkers, Colan Balkwell and Vitor Scariot, along with defender Jadson Leite, who went between the posts as an emergency keeper last week… Boston City used all 18 players on the match day roster last week for the first time in three seasons… The Lions fielded three players at goalkeeper last week and have used four this season, compared with three throughout last season… Midfielder Isaac Addai and captain and defender Gabriel De Souza are the Lions’ two ever presents this season, clocking 360 minutes… Boston City’s Ironsides Crew supporters are the greatest fans in the NPSL.

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