The stage was set for a showdown when Northcote City FC hosted the Melbourne Knights at John Cain Memorial Park in round three of the NPL Victoria. After a disappointing loss in the previous round to Pascoe Vale FC, Asanovic’s men were looking to chalk up their first win on the road.
After suffering a disappointing 3-1 loss to league leaders Pascoe Vale FC at home in the previous round, which saw the Knights accumulate a total of 5 yellow and 2 red cards by the end of regulation time, Shaun Timmins and Nikola Jurkovic were unavailable for selection. Tomisav Uskok also made a return to the starting line up after sitting out the previous match due to back soreness.
— Melbourne Knights FC (@MelbKnights) March 12, 2018
The opening minutes of the match saw a fairly even contest take place between Northcote City and Melbourne Knights. It wasn’t until the 11th minute that a deep ball met Northcote City striker Lucas Derrick. The striker took the opportunity to test Knights keeper Harry Cakarun but the shot travelled just wide of post, and was out for a goal kick.
The Knights’ first shot on goal came from a set piece, won by a shove on Nate Foster from Northcote City’s Alberto Jesus Garcia Balta in the 15th minute. Knights Captain, Marijan Cvitkovic, took the free kick and placed it well within the six-yard box, but met the head of Northcote’s Charlie Beverley, who headed it out for a corner.
A slew of additional chances for the Knights followed; including another set piece in the 27th minute, and a chance in open play in the 31st minute when Anthony Dezic whipped a lovely ball into the box to Kym Harris, who headed it towards goal, only for Garcia Balta to clear the ball at the last minute.
Despite the Knights having more chances on goal in the first half, Northcote City were determined to take the lead before the whistle blew. In the 35th minute, Northcote City’s Juan Gallego Vera had an ambitious shot on goal as he was running towards the boundary line, only for Cakarun to make an even more ambitious save to deny Northcote a goal before half time. Ultimately, the whistle was blown shortly afterward and both sides remained scoreless at the half.
The second half saw a different match. Within the first six minutes, a forward-facing tackle on Beverley from Knights’ Anthony Duzel had the referee seeing red, awarding Duzel with a controversial red card and reducing the Knights to ten men. However, Northcote City’s advantage didn’t last long. A shove on Northcote’s Anthony Theodoropoulos by Caleb Mikulic saw Mikulic go into the book with a yellow card. Whilst Mikulic was being awarded the card, Northcote’s Thomas Lakic, originally uninvolved in the altercation, scurried over and made an above the shoulder challenge on Mikulic in full view of referee Lachlan Keevers and the Knights bench. As a result, Lakic received an immediate sending off and evened the number of men on the field to ten apiece. Not long after, Mikulic received a ball into the box from Harris in the 58th minute, which he was able to fire on toward goal, but the ball travelled shy over the crossbar, denying the winger his second goal for the season.
The opening goal of the match came in the 81st minute when a long-range Northcote throw-in to the box was not immediately cleared by the Knights defence and saw Northcote’s Beverley finish with an acrobatic tap-in. Northcote were up 1-0 with only 9 minutes plus stoppage time to go. With the match well and truly into the final minutes, the Knights began to heavily press forwards for their own chance on goal. With the 4th official calling for four minutes of extra time, urgency levels were raised for the visitors. It wasn’t until the 2nd minute of extra time, in which a Cvitkovic corner deflected five times before finding the head of Tomislav Uskok, who placed a beautiful headed goal just past the gloves of a diving Fraser Chalmers, equalising to make the score 1-1 right before the final whistle.
The match ended with both sides sharing the spoils, with a point apiece. The Knights collected a total of two yellow cards (Mikulic 56’, Dezic 66’) and one red card (Duzel 53’).
With a 6-day turnaround before the Knights’ next away match against Hume City this coming Saturday, Asanovic’s squad will be looking for a quick recovery for their chance to the claim 3 points on the fly.