With Richmond a statistically distant chance to make the finals, this must win match produced an exciting finish, Richmond taking out Melbourne Knights 1-0.
Both teams applied solid defensive pressure in the first half and neither could work the ball into penalty box for the opening five minutes.
The first attack didn’t come until the eighth minute where Knights’ Jacob Colosimo found a gap in Richmond’s defence but applied too much angle to his shot narrowly missing to the right.
Possession remained even for the next 10 minutes with both teams keeping tight in defence.
Richmond wasted their first opportunity to score in the 17th minute, when Devon Bonnie patiently waited for his moment to strike just 10 yards from goal but was unable to pass Knights keeper Martin John.
Nick Marinos reacted to the deflected ball first and made an attempt on goal but the Melbourne defence rushed to the goal line and was able to clear the danger.
The next 15 minutes saw some clumsy football from both teams with ineffective passing and multiple unforced turnovers, keeping the ball predominantly around the centre of the pitch.
Richmond started to pick up their intensity and in the 33rd minute, Scott Muirhead took a free kick from 30 yards out but belted the ball straight into the pack.
Muirhead drilled the following corner ball into the centre of the pack but Knights defence was too good.
Melbourne Knights were starting to effectively move with the ball into their attacking third but were not hitting key targets, allowing Richmond to regain possesion.
In the 41st minute, Muirhead’s corner ball almost curled in for a goal but John took a desperate leap to push the ball over the crossbar. It was déjà vu only moments later when exactly the same play occurred, Richmond unlucky to have not scored.
Knights started to fine-tune their attack when a cross from Josip Magdic was delivered precisely to Kayne Vincent but his header narrowly went over goal.
The last attack for the half looked promising for the Knights as Josip Kozic centered the ball from out right but Richmond’s defence desperately hustled in the pack to head the ball out.
The second half commenced with some light drizzle which continued for the rest of the match.
Melbourne Knights created opportunities early with a corner which Kozic sent into the pack. The ball was deflected towards goal, but there were no Knights players to tap the ball in which was eventually retrieved by Richmond keeper Stjepan Gal.
Bonnie was kept busy for Richmond, who ran the ball into their attack and made a pass to Marinos but could not hit his target due to the Knights’ defensive pressure.
Only moment’s later Richmond’s Michael Ferrante ran the ball into attack and took a shot from 20 yards out but John made the save.
Drama occurred in the 70th minute with a clash between Richmond’s Timmy Purcell and Melbourne’s Josip Franjic, which resulted in two fractures and ligament damage for Franjic who was eventually stretchered off the field and Purcell given a yellow card.
A melee broke out between the two teams over the incident, which was quickly settled by the referees.
Richmond stepped up their intensity and in the 77th minute, Muirhead’s corner ball was precisely delivered to Erhan Karahan at the far post but he couldn’t angle the header in.
Eventually Richmond were rewarded in the 80th minute with a goal from Mate Eterovic, who patiently waited for the right moment to slot the ball past the John from just inside the box.
The Knights stepped up the intensity in their attack but Richmond’s showed desperation to run down every ball.
In the dying minutes Romein had his chance to equalise and took a shot from 30 yards catching Gal off guard but hit the post, Knights very unlucky not to score the equalizer, Richmond hanging on to take the victory.
Next week, Melbourne Knights take on Hume City at Knights Stadium in the last game in the 2011 Alanic VPL season.
Richmond SC: 1. Stjepan GAL, 2. Andrew VIOLIA, 3. Erhan KARAHAN, 4. Ross ANTONIADIS, 5. Mitch BISSINGER, 7. Timmy PURCELL, 8. Scott MUIRHEAD, 9. Michael CATALANO, 10. Nick MARINOS (11. Mate ETEROVIC, 40’), 12. Devon BONNIE, 18. Michael FERRANTE. Unused Subs: 15. Josh KWEIFIO-OKAI, 17. Jonny STAHL, 19. Justin RISTEVSKI, 20. Robert SIMEONI.
Goal Scorers: 11. Mate ETEROVIC, 80’.
Yellow Cards: 7. Timmy PURCELL, 71’.
Melbourne Knights: 1. Martin JOHN, 2. Shaun ROMEIN, 3. Ryan FILIPOVIC, 6. Tomislav USKOK, 8. Josip MAGDIC, 9. Kayne VINCENT, 10. Josip KOZIC (15. Yusef YUSEF, 67’), 11. Anthony COLOSIMO ( 17. Josip FRANJIC 67' (12. Shayan ALINESAD, 68’)), 19. Adam ZILIC, 20. Jacob COLOSIMO (18. Melvin BECKETT, 67’), 22. Craig SWEENEY.
Unused Subs: 21. Matthew HRASTOV.
M.John, S.Romein, R.Filipovic, T.Uskok, J.Magdic, K.Vincent, J.Kozic (J.Franjic 67’ (S.Alinejad 68’)), A.Colosimo, A.Zilic, J.Colosimo (Y.Yusuf 67’), C.Sweeney.
Goal Scorers: Nil.
Yellow Cards: Nil.
By Vanessa Lougoon