Melbourne Knights progressed through to Round 5 of the FFA Cup qualifiers with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Melton Phoenix at MacPherson Park on Saturday.
The away side was always in control and took the lead early on as Adrian Zahra opened his goal account for the club. Andrew Barisic put in a deep cross to the back post, where Stipo Andrijasevic headed it back across the six-yard line for Zahra to arrive with a perfectly timed run and nod it home.
Despite numerous clear chances for the favourites they went in at half time just one goal to the good. However in-form striker Barisic ensured that the second half would prove more fruitful with a superb hat-trick.
Just three minutes into the second half the ball fell to Barisic at the top of the area and he executed a smart side-foot finish through a couple of defenders into the bottom corner.
The no. 27 made it 3-0 with the pick of the bunch in the 67th minute after Chris Vassalo punched a cross away but only as far as Barisic who smashed a volley into the top corner.
The hat-trick was complete with five minutes remaining as substitute Chris Talajic whipped in a pinpoint cross from the right for Barisic to tuck away from close range.
There was a consolation goal for Melton in the 90th minute as substitute Jesse Sciberras got on the end of a low cut-back to tap in past Chris May who had little to do all match.
The Knights created chances throughout the match and it started with Andrijasevic’s long range bullet which was spilt by Vassalo and cleared for a corner.
Tomislav Uskok came close to the opener in the seventh minute as his wicked left foot volley flew inches over the crossbar.
Zahra’s goal came not long after and it could have been 2-0 after 15 minutes but for a sensational save by Vassalo. Barisic put his foot through the ball from about 12 yards out but the keeper reacted to somehow tip it over the bar.
Zahra was making himself a nuisance for the Phoenix defence. In the 28th minute he pounced on a loose ball and cut inside from the left, dancing past a defender to release a curling shot beyond a diving Vassalo but also just wide of the far post.
The away side had several more chances but it remained 1-0 at half time.
Barisic’s early second half goal got the team off to a flyer and midfielder Alex Dao looked to get on the score-sheet soon after as he placed a low shot inside the near post but Vassalo scrambled to keep it out.
Andrijasevic came painfully close on several occasions, even having a goal disallowed, but it wasn’t his day to score. Perhaps his best effort was a missile header destined for the top corner before it was cleared off the line by the head of a defender.
The Knights saw out a comfortable victory to progress with confidence high amongst the ranks.