Melbourne Knights have slumped into the relegation zone of the Victorian Premier League table after a 2-1 loss to Heidelberg United at Knights Stadium.
A first half Andrew Nabbout double was enough to hand Heidelberg the victory after the stepping down of Andy Vlahos as Coach earlier this week.
After the game, John Sideris who took the reins of Coach for today’s match said that Vlahos remains an “extremely” important player.
“He is the most experienced player we’ve got and his talent and ability will help us into the hard months of the season,” Sideris said.
Nabbout opened the game’s scoring in the 22nd minute for Heidelberg after a free kick was quickly taken by former Melbourne Heart player Kamal Ibrahim.
Ibrahim passed the ball across the 16 yard box to Nabbout who was able to hit his strike into the back of the net.
Heidelberg United continued to apply pressure in search of a second goal and had two great one on one chances for Ibrahim and David Petrovic who were both denied by Knights goalkeeper Matthew Hrastov’s feet.
It was not too long until Heidelberg doubled their lead as Andrew Nabbout broke through the Knights’ defence to slam the ball into the back of the net leaving Hrastov with little chance of denying the winger his double.
Melbourne Knights got back into the game late in the first half when youngster Jake Nakic found the top corner of the goal from 25 yards out with a superb curling effort to set up a 2-1 score line going into the second half.
In an effort to secure all three points Melbourne Knights coach Paul Magdic brought on Yusuf Yusuf and Shayan Alinejad for experienced pair Jacob Colosimo and Shaun Romein.
That substitution almost worked a treat after a cross was delivered into the Knights penalty area to see Alinejad blow his strike over the cross bar in scramble in front of goal.
Nabbout had the chance to put the Knights away in the 69th minute as he hit his shot over the cross bar in a one on one opportunity, with Vlahos ignored despite being in a better scoring position.
In the dying minutes of the game the Melbourne Knights missed a host of opportunities to gain a point when Louis Fenton missed two great chances.
Melbourne Knights defender Tomislav Uskok also cleared the ball off his own line and George Papadopoulos’ header forced Chris May to tap the ball onto the crossbar.
After the game Melbourne Knights Coach Paul Magdic said he had no comment on his sides loss but goal scorer Jake Nakic said the defeat was “massive”.
“We couldn’t afford to lose this game because now Moreland has got up and were sitting on the bottom of the table,” Nakic said.
“We have to bounce back and take a good look at ourselves. We have to go to Lakeside next week and put on a better show for our supporters.
“There are a lot of things we need to sort out, and we have to sort them out quickly.”
Next weekend Melbourne Knights travel to Lakeside to face South Melbourne on Sunday afternoon while Heidelberg United play host to undefeated Dandenong Thunder at Olympic Village on the same night.
Melbourne Knights: Matthew HRASTOV, Ryan FILIPOVIC Tomislav USKOK, Shaun ROMEIN (Shayan ALINEJAD 46’), Craig SWEENEY (Josip KOZIC 75’), Jacob COLOSIMO (Yusuf YUSUF 46’), Anthony COLOSIMO, Louis FENTON, Marijan CVITKOVIC, Joseph FRANJIC, Jake NAKIC
Unused subs: Paul MONACO, Hrvoje SIBENIK.
Goal: Nakic 43’.
Heidelberg United: Chris MAY, Mitch BISSINGER, David CARDIMONE, George PAPADOPOULOS (John BOUNOS), Brent GRIFFITHS, Seb PETROVIC, Les DOUMBALIS, Evan CHRISTODOULOU, Kamal IBRAHIM (Andy VLAHOS 65’), Nick TSOULIS, Andrew NABBOUT (Arthur PAPADOPOULOS 92’)
Unused Subs: Seb MATTEI, Peter SINAN.
Goals: Nabbout 23’, 38’.