Heidelberg United claimed all three points in a heated encounter against Melbourne Knights at Olympic Village on Sunday night.
The match kicked off with the surprise omission of Adrian Caceres from Heidelberg’s squad.
News has since filtered through that Caceres is on his way to the Indonesian Premier League.
His former team mate Saso Alexovski made it clear early that he could be the man to step up and replace Caceres as he hit a stunning volley that was blocked by the Knights defence in the third minute.
His strike partner Osagie Ederaro also began to look dangerous and was called offside in a one on one situation with Knights keeper Martin John in the 17th minute.
Heidelberg continued to push for a goal and in the 25th minute a Saso Alexovski free kick was met by Evan Christodoulou who put his header past Knights keeper Martin John to put the Warriors in the lead.
Melbourne Knights looked for a quick reply as Josip Magdic found space outside the area to force Griffen Mc Master into a comfortable save.
At the end of the first half Osagie Ederaro almost extended Heidelberg’s lead as he hit his header into the cross bar from another well delivered free kick by Saso Alexovski.
As the second half began, Heidelberg defended well against the Knights attack who failed to make an opening.
Heidelberg extended their lead as Saso Alexovski put the ball in the bottom right corner from a superb long range pass in the 60th minute.
Knights Coach Ivan Duzel then looked to his bench and made a double substitution as Yusuf Yusuf and Josip Kozic were replaced by Craig Sweeney and Mathieu Welmant.
Just minutes later, Melbourne Knights found themselves unlucky as substitute Craig Sweeney hit the cross bar from a classy cut back by Jean Charles Dubois.
Heidelberg continued to launch counter attacks as Evan Christodoulou almost got a double as he hit a lob that was saved by Martin John.
Seconds later Osagie Ederaro tried his own lob that went over the cross bar.
Duzel’s substitution paid dividends in the 88th minute as Sweeney slammed the ball into the bottom left corner after a scramble in the Heidelberg defence to reduce his team’s deficit to a single goal.
In the dying minutes of the game a scuffle broke out between players of both teams as Jason Samargis made a dangerous tackle on Junior De Camargo who then retaliated.
Both players received yellow cards for their efforts.
As the final whistle blew, Heidelberg came away with a 2-1 victory and their undefeated home record intact while the Melbourne Knights slumped to their fourth defeat in a row leaving them in 10th position on the table after a solid start to the season.
In Round 9 both teams travel away from home as Heidelberg visit Green Gully while the Melbourne Knights meet local rivals St Albans Saints.
Heidelberg United: Griffen MC MASTER, Ben WEARING, Craig ELVIN, Steve MARTIN, Les DOUMBALIS, Hamlet ARMENIAN, Richard GREER, Evan CHRISTODOULOU, Takanori NISHIMOTO(Jason SAMARGIS), Saso ALEXOVSKI (Andrew NABOUTT), Osagie EDERARO.
Unused Subs: Jason KOUTSODONTIS, George PAPADOPOULOS, Matthew TANCEVSKI.
Goals: Christodoulou 25’, Alexovski 60’.
Yellow Cards: Samargis 89’.
Melbourne Knights: Martin JOHN, Ryan FILIPOVIC, Ben SUREY, Leo SHIN, Meyer Carlos DE CAMARGO JUNIOR, Josip MAGDIC, Josip KOZIC (Matheiu WELMANT 67’), Anthony COLOSIMO, Jean Charles DUBOIS, Yusuf Yusuf (Craig SWEENEY 67’), Daniel DRAGICEVIC (Shaun ROMEIN 80’).
Unused Subs: Adam Zilic, Aaron ROMEIN.
Goals: Sweeney 88’.
Yellow Cards: Filipovic 85’, Junior 90’.