The Melbourne Knights recorded their first win under new coach Andrew Marth, coming away from Green Gully Reserve with the three points, after their 1-0 win on Saturday.
Jake Nakic’s 50th minute strike, his third in his last six appearances, handed his side and new manager a much-needed victory, in the Knights’ attempts to steer clear of the relegation zone.
Knights coach Andrew Marth was after the game, pleased with the playing group’s response after Paul Magdic’s departure.
“The boys did exceptionally well, especially in defence, and young Tommy (Uskok) and Ben (Surey) really worked hard in midfield,” he said.
“I think the pressure and our organisation was at a different class. It was definitely something that we worked on during the week, and the boys put it into practice which is nice.”
With the loss, Green Gully just remain in the top six on 15 points, while the Knights, who are on nine points, now have some breathing space between themselves and the drop zone.
In open play, it was the Knights who took it to the hosts, who only really looked threatening at the set piece in what was a characteristically dreary display.
Louis Fenton and Shayan Alinejad were active early, benefitting from the industrious central midfield pairing of Tom Uskok and Ben Surey, who made his return from injury following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Nakic, the one positive throughout the season despite the Knights’ struggles, was unlucky not to put the Knights in front midway through the half, hitting the post after his low-driven effort from 20 metres.
It was the best chance of the match until that point, but Green Gully kept the Knights on their toes defensively, nearly snatching the lead against the run of play minutes later from a corner.
Matthew Sanders' volley had a full-stretch Aaron Romein beaten, only for the ball to finish agonisingly wide of the mark, as scores remained deadlocked heading into the main break.
The visitors deservedly took the lead five minutes after the restart, with Nakic expertly bending the ball around Gully keeper Nikola Roganovic.
Receiving the ball in the penalty area, Nakic showed great composure to pick his spot in the congestion, beating Roganovic and a crowd of Green Gully defenders to hand his side the advantage.
The Knights were from this point the better side, and after Jacob Colosimo missed a gilt-edged chance, Andy Vargas later denied them off the line after Alinejad beat Roganovic in a one-on-one.
The visitors’ inability to play for the full 90 has been a sticking point this season but thanks to Aaron Romein, who denied Joel Nikolic’s goal-bound free kick deep in the 87th minute, they held on for a vital win.
Next week sees no Victorian Premier League matches played due to the next round of the FFV Knockout Cup, but both Green Gully and the Knights have Cup games at 2 p.m next Saturday, with the Cavaliers hosting Keilor Park, while the Knights travel to Ballarat to take on the Red Devils.
Further fixture information is available on the FFV’s Sporting Pulse page.
Green Gully 0-1 Melbourne Knights
Green Gully: 23. Nikola ROGANOVIC, 2. Daniel JONES, 5. Rodrigo VARGAS, 6. Stephen DOWNES, 8. Jason HAYNE, 9. Brent FISHER, 11. Scott ROBSON, 12. Matthew SANDERS (20. Osagie EDERARO 64’), 16. Mile MEDJEDOVIC, 17. Andy VARGAS (18. Joel NIKOLIC 64’), 19. Johnathon MUNOZ (21. Christopher DIB 72’)
Yellow Cards: Andy Vargas 44’, Stephen Downes 86’
Melbourne Knights: 1. Aaron ROMEIN, 3. Ryan FILIPOVIC, 4. Adam ZILIC, 6. Tom USKOK, 8. Craig SWEENEY, 9. Jacob COLOSIMO, 11. Anthony COLOSIMO, 12. Shayan ALINEJAD (7. Shaun ROMEIN 82’), 15. Louis FENTON, 23. Jake NAKIC, 24. Ben SUREY
Goals: Jake Nakic 50’
Yellow Cards: Ben Surey 66’, Craig Sweeney 75’, Adam Zilic 86’, Jacob Colosimo 86’