By Peter Desira
(Herald Sun, Monday 9 October 2000)
Carlton captain Andrew Marth and Melbourne Knights defender Rody Vargas are lucky to be available to start the National Soccer League season this week after a benefit match turned sour last night.
The Knights and Carlton met in the annual Laurie Schwab Memorial match at Knights Stadium honoring the former soccer writer, but a pedestrian game heading for a draw exploded when Knights striker Joel Porter was brought down in the box with seven minutes to go.
The incident ignited simmering feelings between the two sides which had met in a practice game three weeks ago.
The 22 players converged on the penalty area for a melee.
Vargas and Carlton defender Mark Atkinson squared up, while Marth let fly at Vargas’s elder brother, Andy.
Referee Bruno D’Anniello awarded a penalty for the foul on Porter, but resisted the temptation to bring out the red card which would have earned players an automatic suspension for next weekend’s NSL’s opening round.
Anthony Pelikan converted the penalty to give the Knights a 2-1 win, an unlikely victory after Carlton had dominated the early stages and deservedly taken a first-half lead when Ange Motsiopoulos finished off a cross from the left by David Terminello.
The Knights looked out of sorts for most of the contest, but suddenly drew level when Paul Magdic swooped on a half clearance to hit a thundering volley from outside the box.
But the two teams may not have escaped unscathed, with new Knights signing Toto da Costa going off with a hamstring injury and Carlton’s new arrival Rob Middleby also hobbling off with a leg injury.
Ivan Zelic was an interested spectator after arriving from Adelaide yesterday morning with the intention of signing for the Knights.
But Knights coach Vlado Vanis has missed out on his second recruiting target … unsettled Perth Glory striker Peter Buljan has accepted an offer to join Sydney Olympic.