Knight claim point in thrilling home opener

Melbourne Knights took a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw against defending NPL Victoria Champions Oakleigh Cannons in their 2023 home opener on Friday night. 

Gevaro Nepomuceno opened his goalscoring account for his new club with a stunning second half free-kick to restore parity after an Alex Fiechtner strike had the visitors in front.

Oakleigh started the stronger of the two sides coming close in the first half through Joe Guest and Oliver Kubilay but a stout defensive display from the Knights back four cupoled with a handful of fine saves from Chris Oldfield saw the sides head into the break goal-less.

Seven minutes into the second half the defending Champions found a breakthrough via Fiechtner, who flicked an Alex Salmon cross into the back of the net at the near post for what his first goal for the Cannons.

Ben Cahn’s side grew into the contest as the second half wore on and were rewarded in the 74th minute when Curacao international, Nepomuceno fired a free kick into the top corner from 20 yards out to level the scores on his home debut.

Despite several late chances for both sides neither was able to further impact the score line further with the match finishing at one apiece.

Speaking post-match, Melbourne Knights Head Coach Ben Cahn said he was proud of the effort from his players in Friday’s match.

“It was a difficult game, Oakleigh are a very, very good side, it’s not a coincidence that everyone has marked them as favourites” Cahn said. 

“We came under a lot of pressure in the first half, we defended well. Oldy (Chirs Oldfield) was brilliant and we rode our luck at times. 

“Second half we made some adjustments and got more control of the game and we showed really good mentality, togetherness and belief to come back from 1-0 down and I thought we were going to go on and win it at the end. 

“All things considered it’s a good point, we’ve got a long way to go to get to the level we want to be at but I’m very proud of the players for finding a way to stay in the game, getting something out of it and coming home the stronger team. 

“We have to go back and work hard at training now and keep making progress to get us closer to where we want to be.”

Next up for Knights is a trip to Lakeside next Monday night to face South Melbourne in the Original Melbourne Derby (7:30pm KO).

MATCH DETAILS

NPL Victoria 2023 – Round 2: Melbourne Knights v Oakleigh Cannons

Knights Stadium, Sunshine North

Friday, 24 February 

Melbourne Knights – 1 (Gevaro NEPOMUCENO 74’)

Oakleigh Cannons – 1 (Alex FIECHTNER 52’)

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