One of Australian football’s great derbies was played on Sunday afternoon but only one team turned up for the contest as the Melbourne Knights comfortably won the honours with a 1-0 victory over an extremely disappointing South Melbourne FC at Somers Street. The victory almost assures the Knights safety from relegation danger whilst the loss has allowed other clubs to catch up to South’s third placed position on the Victorian Premier League ladder.
South travelled to Knights Stadium knowing it would not be an easy match thanks to losing its fair share of derbies at the venue against the Knights in the old National Soccer League; however there was plenty of optimism considering South’s excellent record at the ground, especially in VPL competition where the Blues had only lost there once in six years. There was also alot of added spice to this match considering the mid-season defections of Jean-Charles Dubois, Meyer Carlos De Camargo Junior and Daniel Dragicevic from the Knights to South. Only Dragicevic was available for the game and he started the game on the substitutes bench.
Both sides began the match full of hunger and determination to get on the score sheet first. The Knights looked dangerous whenever they went forward and South had to rely on the defensive work of Carl Recchia, Steven O’Dor and goalkeeper Zaim Zeneli to avert any danger, as well as luck when Jacob Colosimo came dangerously close to connecting with a cross from Criag Sweeney, but the ball flashed just wide of the goal.
At the other end, Steven Weir and Kyle Joryeff combined with some nice interpassing to expose the Knights down on the wings but unfortunately for the away side many of the subsequent crosses lacked penetration and were easy for Knights goalkeeper Aaron Romein and his defence to handle. South’s best chance came from Joryeff, who worked himself into space and hit a shot that hit Romein’s near post and stayed out.
The Knights scored the winning goal just after the half-hour mark, when a Josip Magdic cross from the right could only be cleared as far as Craig Sweeney at the edge of the box. Sweeney hit a fantastic shot that gave Zeneli no chance and handed the home side the advantage.
The goal shocked the visitors, who had been under pressure from the Knights but had managed to comfortably deal with the danger up until that point. Sweeney’s goal gave the Knights a huge boost in confidence and they looked to double their advantage before the break. Just before half time, Steven Topalovic tried to play the ball out of his defence but was dispossessed and offered Jacob Colosimo a shot at goal from just outside the area, however to Zeneli’s huge relief the subsequent shot went just wide of his goal.
South were expected to come out blazing in the second half but most disappointingly the away side offered little more than a whimper for the rest of the match. Much of South’s build-up play was slow and predictable, in contrast to the Knights who were direct and quick with their play. The home side had the advantage and were happy to play direct counter-attacking football to try and bury the game as a contest. It was Colosimo again with the first chance of the half when he had a header go wide from a brilliant Joseph Franjic ten minutes in.
South’s only golden chance in what was otherwise a very dour second half showing was a Daniel Vasilevski run into the area that resulted in him cutting the ball back instead of taking a shot, with the ball subsequently cleared. At the other end, the Knights were denied a second goal many times through interceptions from Recchia and O’Dor as well as several offside infringements. The full-time whistle was met with loud cheers from the home supporters, who deservedly won the three points and humiliated their disappointing rivals.
The Melbourne Knights travel to Jack Edwards to take on Oakleigh Cannons this coming Friday night, 8.15pm kick off.
3. Ryan FILIPOVIC, 5. Leo SHIN, 6. Tomislav USKOK, 8. Josip MAGDIC, 10. Josip KOZIC, 11. Anthony COLOSIMO, 17. Joseph FRANJIC, 19. Adam ZILIC, 20. Jacob COLOSIMO, 21. Aaron ROMEIN (GK), 22. Craig SWEENEY
Subs: 7. Ridvam SAGLAM, 12. Shayan ALINEJAD, 16. James STEFANOU, 18. Brandon ZEZOVSKI, 1. Martin JOHN
1-0: Craig Sweeney (31’)
South Melbourne FC:
2. Tom MATTHEWS, 4. Steven O’DOR, 5. Daniel VASILEVSKI, 6. Steven TOPALOVIC, 8. Carl RECCHIA, 10. Kliment TASESKI, 16. Trent WATERSON (15. Fernando DE MORAES 65’), 17. Steven WEIR, 18. Marinos GASPARIS, 21. ZAIM ZENELI (GK), 25. Kyle JORYEFF (20. Daniel DRAGICEVIC 77’)
Man of the Match: Craig Sweeney (Melbourne Knights)