Dandenong Thunder can all but wrap up the Victorian Premier League minor premiership thanks to the Melbourne Knights, who defeated Oakleigh Cannons 3-1 at Jack Edwards Reserve on Friday night.
All three goals came in the first half for the Knights, who took the lead in only the second minute and never really looked troubled against an uninspiring Cannons outfit.
With the win, the Knights meanwhile, still have faint hopes of making the post-season, but at this stage it remains out of their hands.
Visiting coach Andrew Marth was nonetheless upbeat with his side’s performance given the number of injuries and what it means going forward.
“We pulled the boys out of the youth team, and we struggled for numbers, but the workrate was superb and we thoroughly deserved to go 3-0 up,” he said.
“During the course of the week, I didn’t work the boys as hard because we were lacking in numbers, and they worked for 90-odd minutes.
“You wouldn’t think that we were eighth and that we were playing against second. There’s still hope so as long as the boys go out there and work hard, everyone’s happy.”
Before those in attendance had even settled, the Knights were in the lead through Shayan Alinejad who steamed through the Cannons defence untouched, receiving Kayne Vincent’s pass to lob the oncoming Lewis Italiano from 25 metres.
Despite their troubles from the dead ball, where Oakleigh hit the crossbar and threatened on other occasions, the Knights kept the score to zero and scored another against the run of play in the 40th minute.
Shaun Romein’s effort from close range was well kept out by Italiano, but the Oakleigh custodian could not make up for the non-existent marking as an unmarked Kayne Vincent slotted home the rebound for his first goal upon returning to the Knights.
The Cannons’ evening was made all the more worse from a defensive mix-up minutes later.
With his keeper stranded, Aristidis Drakos put the ball into his own net, unable to clear the delivered ball into the box, as Kayne Vincent didn’t look to have gotten a flick on.
Approaching the end of a dour second half, Drakos pulled one back in the 84th minute with a fine glancing header, but it was too little too late for the Cannons.
“I think the result speaks for itself, and I don’t think we faced an opposition who were better than us. We just didn’t play our game, it was a severely bad day at the office,” Oakleigh co-coach Peter Zois said post-match.
“We are where we are and we deserve to be where we are, but today we deserved to lose. Credit to the Knights, because they did their job.”
Oakleigh now need to bounce right back if they’re to gain momentum, and maybe even a psychological edge before the finals, when they face the Thunder next Saturday at George Andrews Reserve.
The Knights on the other hand, will look to make the most of their depleted squad, hosting Green Gully next Sunday at Knights Stadium at 3pm.
Oakleigh Cannons 1-3 Melbourne Knights
Oakleigh Cannons line-up: 1. Lewis ITALIANO, 2. James CUMMING, 12. Luke WALKER, 20. Aristidis DRAKOS, 5. Casper ANDERSEN, 19. Goran ZORIC (13. Evan CHRISTODOULOU 59’), 6. Ramazan TAVSANCIOGLU, 21. Hayden DOYLE (8. Dane MILOVANOVIC 46’), 26. Lambros HONOS, 17. Rasmus FESTERSEN, 10. Ricky DIACO (11. Jesse KRNCEVIC 71’).
Goals: Drakos 84’
Melbourne Knights line-up: 1. Aaron ROMEIN, 2. Adam NAKIC, 3. Ryan FILIPOVIC, 4. Adam ZILIC, 6. Tomislav USKOK, 7. Shaun ROMEIN, 8. Craig SWEENEY, 10. Kayne VINCENT (5. David KUSTURA 90+’), 12. Shayan ALINEJAD, 23. Jake NAKIC (18. Brandon ZEZOVSKI 83’), 24. Ben SUREY
Goals: Alinejad 2’, Vincent 40’, Drakos (OG) 43’