Melbourne Knights has continued its perfect start to the PS4 NPL Victoria season by defeating North Geelong Warriors 1-0 on the road and claiming the inaugural Stipe Tabak Cup.
It was a tight and competitive affair in the Saturday afternoon fixture at Elcho Park and it looked as though the match might have ended in a stalemate before a touch of class from Andrew Barisic proved to be the winner in the 72nd minute.
The striker showed strength and determination to hassle a Warriors defender off the ball, before prodding it, off balance, past goalkeeper Daniel Zilic and into the bottom corner.
Barisic’s third goal in three games sparked joyous celebrations from the away side in what had been a tough encounter.
The Knights controlled most of the match in terms of possession and tempo and looked the most likely in the early exchanges. With ten minutes gone Andrew Barisic held off a defender to strike a bouncing ball across his body, but the angle was tight and the shot off target.
The Warriors grew into the game with the home support behind them and their first moment of quality came in the 26th minute as Juso Julardzija brought down a high ball with one silky touch before laying it off to Robbie Zadworny, whose low drive went narrowly wide.
The attacking duo were North Geelong’s biggest threat, and Chris May had to be quick off his line to beat the pacey Zadworny to the ball as he looked to take it around the goalkeeper.
That was before a shot opened up for Julardzija on the edge of the area but he could only roll a tame effort into May’s arms.
Andrew Marth’s men showed their passing prowess and one through ball resulted in the best chance of the half five minutes before the break. Barisic was played in and had only Zilic to beat but he couldn’t direct the shot wide enough as Zilic got down quickly to make a strong save.
The Knights had another great chance in the 56th minute as Adrian Zahra raced onto the ball and did well to direct a low strike across Zilic, but the keeper’s fingertips kept came to his side’s rescue.
Five minutes later it was May’s turn to shine as he somehow reacted to Michael Anderson’s fierce shot with a spectacular save as the home crowd was ready to celebrate.
After going behind, the Warriors pushed forward in search of an equaliser giving the away side opportunities to counter attack but no more goals were added as the Knights held on to make it three wins in a row.