Melbourne Knights return to Somers Street this weekend, going up against Oakleigh Cannons in their 2023 NPL Victoria home opener at Knights Stadium on Friday night (7:30pm KO).
196 days after their last competitive home match Knights are back with a blockbuster match up against defending Champions Oakleigh.
Since Knights last match at Somers Street – a 1-1 draw with Altona last August, new Head Coach Ben Cahn and 12 new players have all arrived at the club as part of a revamped side ahead of the Knights 70th anniversary season.
Club Captain, Ivan Franjic who headlined Cahn’s off season recruitment found the back of the net on his return to the club as Knights kicked off the new campaign with a 1-1 draw on the road against St Albans last weekend.
In total nine summer arrivals made their competitive Knights debuts in Sunday’s draw at St Albans with attacking duo Ciaran Bramwell and Gevaro Nepomuceno both coming close to opening their goalscoring accounts for their new side in the season opener.
Knights will be forced into at least one change on Friday night with Steve Whyte missing this one through suspension after being dismissed for a pair of bookings on Sunday against St Albans.
Friday’s opponents, Oakleigh were one of four sides to pick up three points across the opening weekend, grabbing a 3-1 win over Green Gully thanks to goals from Connor Hampson, Alex Salmon and Daniel Clark.
Chris Taylor’s side have added Stefan Valentini, Brandon Lundy, Alex Fiechtner, Emlyn Wellsmore, Cameron McGilp, Alex Salmon and Brodie Boyce to their squad over the summer.
Knights Captain, Ivan Franjic said his side were looking to build on their opening day showing with a strong performance in Friday’s home opener.
“There were a lot of positives last week, the team showed we had a never die attitude,” Franjic said.
“The performance overall was a great start, obviously the result wasn’t what we wanted but the good signs were there with the chances we created and the way we played.
“Obviously, there are a lot of new players that have come in this season and that always takes a bit of time to get going as we are learning each others and the coaches patterns and movements.
“That always takes a bit of time, but we have progressed very nicely under Ben (Cahn) and as the season progresses we will get stronger and stronger as we have a good mix of experience and youth.”
“We are all looking foward to playing at home in front of our home fans as a team we have set ourselves big goals this year, so it’s important we make our home our fortress.”
NPL Queensland 2023 – Round 2: Melbourne Knights v Oakleigh Cannons
Knights Stadium, Sunshine North
Friday, 24 March (7:30pm KO)
Melbourne Knights FC
2. Jack Marth, 3. Josh Phelps, 4. Corey Sewell, 5. Ivan Franjic (C), 6. Anthony Duzel, 7. Mitch Hore, 8. Steve Whyte, 9. Ciaran Bramwell, 10. Gian Albano, 11. Gevaro Nepomuceno, 12. Felipe Sanchez, 13. Chris Oldfield (GK), 16. Mohammed Sumaoro, 17. Trevor Ssemakula, 18. Jack Morton, 19. Luka Kolic, 21. Matt Wiseman (GK), 27. Joseph Franjic, 33. Tomas Karlovic
Oakleigh Cannons SC
1. Nick Feely, 2. Brandon Lundy, 3. Connor Hampson, 4. Anthony Pantazopoulos, 6. Jacob Eliopoulos, 7. Alex Fietchner, 8. Cameron McGilp, 9. Alex Salmon, 10. Joe Guest, 11. Wade Dekker, 12. Jordan Lemke, 13. Kosta Kypreos, 16. Nicholas Ghanakas, 18. Steven Sakellarios, 19. Oliver Kubilay, 20. Daniel Clark, 22. Stefan Valentini, 23. Emlyn Wellsmore, 24. Chris Lucas, 31. Lewis Italiano