The Melbourne Knights came back to Somers Street from the Easter break on Friday night, failing to leapfrog Richmond on the VPL ladder in a 1-1 draw.
In a performance not too uncommon to supporters, the home side was made to play catch up after conceding early against the run of play, with Knights coach Paul Magdi? made to lament chasing a game at home.
“I was disappointed with our first-half performance. Our intensity wasn’t there from the very start of the game. I want the boys to concentrate right until the end. I want every side to fear us at home, and we’ve got the side to do it,” he said.
“We proved it in the second half, but unfortunately it was a game of two halves,”
The home side started well enough, with Daniel Dragi?evi? and Jean-Charles Dubois fashioning early chances, but a lack of composure in the final third was prevalent.
Mathieu Welmant’s shot after a defensive mix up from Richmond in the 12th minute, a meek effort at best, typified the Knights apparent panic in front of goal.
The Knights’ wastefulness with the opportunities it created did not go unpunished, as they eventually found themselves a goal down.
Richmond took the lead effectively out of nothing in the 16th minute, but the Knights’ only had themselves to blame for a lapse in concentration.
From a throw-in, the Knights were opened up within a couple of passes, with Mate Eterovi? finding Michael Ferrante with his low-driven cross.
Ferrante showed composure to slot the ball to Martin John’s bottom left hand corner, but the amount of time and space he was given definitely would not have softened the blow for coach Paul Magdi?.
The Eagles grew in confidence after hitting the lead, while the Knights were dogged with giving the ball away cheaply in midfield.
Craig Sweeney made way for Josip Kozi? after a lacklustre first stanza.
Kozi? made an immediate impact with a more measured approach in midfield, with his and Dragi?evi?’s interplay providing an opening for Josip Magdi?’s screamer in the 51st minute.
Receiving the ball from Dragi?evi?, Magdi?’s first touch took him past ex-Knight Antun Kova?i?, before unleashing a blistering drive past the outstrectched Stjepan Gal into the top-right hand corner, to send the home crowd into raptures.
Only a minute later, Magdi? almost returned the favour to his teammate, but Drag?evi? was unable to meet his teasing cross.
The Knights had all the momentum in the second half and in the 65th minute, they had a golden opportunity to hit the lead.
Dubois was gifted the ball in the centre of the Richmond defence, but he decided to shoot, disregarding Mathieu Welmant who was all by his lonesome.
His effort was tame, much to the chagrin of his teammates.
Shortly after, the Eagles’ custodian was again called into action, under a relentless Knights assault on goal.
Richmond had a full-stretch Gal to thank for keeping parity with ten minutes of regular time remaining, stopping the goal-bound effort as well as keeping it out of the path of substitute Rudi Saglam.
Four minutes later though, Kova?i? ventured forward and weighted a delightful ball over the Knights’ defence, but Even Batsis’ off target attempt with only John to beat lacked conviction.
With injury time beckoning, captain Ben Surey had a chance to snatch a winner, heading wide after Dubois’ well-delivered free kick.
Ultimately nothing was to come of either side’s advances, but both will be left to rue wasted openings in what was a just result.
“I was a little bit disappointed because we had our chances. Particularly Jean when he should have passed it to his teammate, but overall I’m happy with our character to come back from a goal down, and I’m sure we’ll start winning soon.”
The Knights’ next game is this Tuesday 3rd May at home to Keilor Park, opening their bid for Mirabella Cup glory at 7.30pm.