NPL Victoria Round 18 action pits fourth placed Melbourne Knights against fifth placed Port Melbourne at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
Knights look to increase the seven-point gap between themselves and the nearest of the chasing pack with a win on Friday as they ramp up their pursuit of a first NPL Victoria finals appearance since 2015.
Ben Cahn’s side come into Friday’s match after booking their spot in the Australia Cup Round of 32 with 3-1 win over Yarraville Glory at Somers Street on Tuesday night.
Luka Kolic, Mitch Hore and Ciaran Bramwell were all on target as Knights reached the competition’s national rounds for the fourth time and will discover their Round of 32 opponent next Wednesday night.
Knights are also now through to the final five of the Dockerty Cup alongside Heidelberg United, Oakleigh Cannons, Northcote City and Goulburn Valley Suns.
Speaking following Tuesday’s cup win Melbourne Knights Head Coach Ben Cahn said his side were delighted to reach the Round of 32 but were already focused on picking up three points against Port on Friday night.
“We’re very pleased to get through to the Round of 32, it was a big goal of ours when we started the season and it’s great to get the club back on the national stage,” Cahn said.
“It wasn’t an easy game, Yarraville did really well to make it tough for us but we got the result we wanted in the end and that’s what cup football is all about.
“It’s a short turnaround and another big game, we’ll recover well and make sure we’re fresh and ready to give it everything.”
A stoppage time Mohammad Sumaoro winner secured all three points for the Knights in a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Sharks in the reverse fixture at JL Murphy Reserve in Round 5.
Sumaoro also netted the winner for Knights in their most recent league outing – a 1-0 away triumph over Bentleigh Greens last weekend.
That goal, which was Sumaoro’s fifteenth NPL Victoria strike for the Knights sends him above Hamish Watson as the club’s fifth all time highest goal scorer in the competition behind Gian Albano (32), Stipo Andrijasevic (22), Marijan Cvitkovic (22) & Tommy Uskok (16).
In total Knights and Port have met 17 times at NPL Victoria level with Knights winning on nine occasions, Port winning five times and there having been three draws between the pair.
Friday’s match is also a momentous one for Knights goalkeeper, Chris Oldfield who is in line to make his 250th top-flight appearance in Victorian football.
The three-time NPL Victoria goalkeeper of the year has been a stalwart of the competition across playing stints at Hume City, Avondale and Altona Magic prior to making the move to Knights Stadium at the beginning of the 2023 season.
Friday’s Round 18 clash kicks off at 7:30pm at Knights Stadium and will be live streamed on NPL.TV.
NPL Victoria 2023 –Round 18: Melbourne Knights v Port Melbourne Sharks
Knights Stadium, Sunshine North
Friday, 16 June (7:30pm KO)