Knights finals hopes dashed, relegation battle ensues

A five minute second half burst was enough to secure all three points and top spot on the Victorian Premier League ladder for the Oakleigh Cannons, after a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against the Melbourne Knights yesterday.
The Knights got off to a flying start, with Jean-Charles Dubios got the Knights off to a dream start, working his way into the box and smashing home a shot into the corner of the goal in the opening minute.
It was not the start the Cannons were after, who had lost their previous three games and failed to trouble the scorers during that time.
The Cannons were uninspiring in the first half, and only managed three shots on goal all of which sailed well over the bar. The Melbourne Knights had chances to extend their lead further with efforts by Josip Magdic, Tomislav Skara and Ben Surey just missing the target.
Oakleigh came out in the second half with renewed vigour, and showed some positive signs early with Cannons’ youngster Panagopoulos’ half shot, half cross bouncing off the top of the bar. Minutes later former Knight Cameron Watson set up Ljuban Palinic with a one-on-one with the keeper, with Sebastian Mattei thwarting the winger by saving with his legs.
Within the space of five minutes, the visitors then turned the game on its head. From a Knights corner the Cannons counter-attacked through Jerry Karpeh, the big man bustled his way through the Knights defence, setting up Ricky Diaco on the edge of the box, who finished with a delightful curling shot that left Mattei rooted to the spot.
It was Karpeh who was at it again just minute’s later, receiving possession just inside the penalty box, the striker was bundled over as he attempted to turn his marker, resulting in a penalty for the Cannons.
Substitute Michael Curcija stepped up and sent Mattei the wrong way, and put the visitors in the lead with just over 15 minutes of play left.
The Knights pushed forward and stepped up the tempo, but it was the Cannons who were unlucky not to put the game to bed on 70 minutes, when Karpeh, with time and space inside the box, was denied by a superb Mattei save.
A flurry of late corners by the Knights put pressure on the Cannons in the dying minutes, and with everyone, including the Knights keeper, pushed up it was a crowded penalty area. However Bryan Bran found himself with an open header just five yards from goal, but was only able to direct his header into the safe hands of McMaster in the Oakleigh goal.
Oakleigh snap a three game losing run and regain top spot, which they will look to consolidate when they take on Hume City next Friday night. The Knights’ will no doubt be disappointed after letting the points slip, and missing out on the chance to move away from the bottom two. Next week they take on arch rivals South Melbourne at John Cain Memorial Reserve on Sunday at 3pm.

Andrew Fisher.

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