Three goals in a frantic final ten minutes from rivals South Melbourne has seen Melbourne Knights bow out of the FFA Cup at Lakeside Stadium on Friday night.
The Knights put in a spirited performance and married it with quality throughout the vast majority of the Round 6 preliminary tie.
Andrew Marth’s side took a deserved lead in the 53rd minute when captain Tomislav Uskok arrowed a header into the top corner following a period of sustained pressure from the visitors.
It looked like Uskok’s goal may have been leading the Knights to another famous win before the awarding of a penalty to South in the 82nd minute for handball.
Milos Lujic stepped up to convert the equaliser, before the home side turned the game on its head just a minute later.
Nicholas Epifano released a perfectly placed curler from outside the area that went in off the post to leave the Knights stunned.
The away side went forward in search of an equaliser, but in doing so were caught on the break in stoppage time as Andy Brennan broke loose and squared the ball for Epifano to seal the result from close range with his second goal.
It was a harsh result for a Knights team that outplayed the home side for such long periods.
They were at it straight from the first whistle, as Chris Talajic’s pinpoint in-swinging cross found Stipo Andrijasevic whose header almost gave the Knights the opener within two minutes.
Talajic was impressing down the right wing and a bursting run got him in behind before his shot was blocked by a lunging last-ditch challenge and then smothered by Nikola Roganovic at the second attempt.
Chris May showed trademark lighting reflexes at the other end to pull off a stunning double save from Brennan in the 33rd minute after the winger was through one-on-one.
The 42nd minute provided the best chance to date and it fell to the Knights after James McGarry slipped Uskok through. The captain was beaten to the ball by Roganovic but it slipped out to Andrew Barisic whose low shot was only stopped by a defender positioned right on the goal line.
Picking up where they left off in the second half, Marth’s side came out firing and took a deserved lead from a corner kick.
The Knights looked fairly comfortable after that and almost doubled their lead in the 77th minute when Uskok again met the ball with his head but this time it flew narrowly over the target.
It was all downhill for the Knights after the penalty however, in a crazy last ten minutes that also saw Uskok and Roganovic both sent off at the death.