The Westfield FFA Cup returned to Somers Street last Thursday night as the Melbourne Knights faced off against Altona Magic SC for a place in the next round of the tournaments preliminary stages. However, the task proved too much for the Knights as a rampant Altona dominated the Knights for the majority of the match, eventuating in a final 2-4 scoreline, in favour of the visitors.
The night got off to a rocky start when number one goal keeper Harry Cakarun, who was penciled in to start, sustained an injury during warm up, which saw Jordan Gifkins make his first appearance in goals for the Knights.
After scoring 3 goals in the past two games, all eyes were on Brody Taylor to see if he could produce some more gold for the Knights. Before the match, Taylor had this to say:
“I’ve been working hard at training and getting into some form, so hopefully I get a goal tonight”
Taylor almost delivered on this in the first five minutes, when an early chance went begging. Nate Foster found himself in some space on the right wing and was able to cross the ball low to Taylor who was cutting in through the middle of the park. Taylor’s shot though was fired too high and went well over the crossbar.
With an evenly played first ten minutes, the visitors were able to go 1-0 up in the 13th minute when a scattered Knights defense wasn’t able to clear a loose ball within the 18-yard box. The ball eventually found its way to Altona Magic’s Jon McShane who was able to put it past Gifkins. McShane also received the first booking of the match in the 25th minute for a late challenge on Ayden Brice, awarding the Knights with a free kick.
The equalizing goal came for the home side in the 30th minute in a similar fashion. A loose ball in the 18-yard box was collected by Knights captain Marijan Cvitkovic who slotted it past Altona’s keeper, leveling the score at one all.
Unfortunately for the Knights, that score line wouldn’t last long. A mere two minutes later, in the dangerous period following a goal, an Altona corner delivered towards the far post found its way to the head of an unmarked Jon McShane, who headed it past Gifkins and got his second goal of the match.
Another blow to the Knights came just before half time when Kym Harris went down clutching his left hamstring, requiring a stretcher to remove him, forcing head coach Aljosa Asanovic to make a substitution, seeing Nicholas Jurcic replacing the injured Harris. Not long after, the referee blew his whistle indicating the end of the first half.
The first 20 minutes of the second half went by without much fanfare. In the 68th minute, Altona goal scorer Jon McShane, who was already sitting on one yellow card for his previous challenge on Brice, picked up a second yellow card for a late challenge on Nikola Jurkovic. This saw his immediate sending off and reduced the visitors to ten men, providing the Knights with a chance to regain control of the match. However, not long after, Jurkovic claimed a yellow card of his own for a challenge on Altona’s Beckett from behind and within the 18-yard box. The referee awarded Altona a spot kick, which Troy Ruthvern was able to convert to send the away side three-one up. The visiting side was then able to claim yet another goal in the 80th minute when the Knights back line was yet again beaten and Clarke rolled one in past Gifkins to send his side 4-1 up.
With time running out, the Knights were desperate to get back in the game. With multiple shots on goal but nothing falling between the post, it seemed like their fate was sealed. The final score line of 4-2 came in extra time when a clever back heel from David Stojic found Brody Taylor, who attempted a shot on goal but was parried out by the Magic keeper to the feet of Nicholas Jurcic who put it in the back of the net giving Knights their second and final goal of the match.
It was a disappointing result for the Knights, who were eager for a decent run in this years FFA Cup competition. With the original Melbourne Derby to be played out this coming Friday night, the Melbourne Knights will be eager to make a statement win against South Melbourne FC to reignite their NPL season and get their results back on track for 2018.