Melbourne Knights produced a stunning second half performance to overrun NPL Victoria newcomers Avondale FC 3-1 at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
The first half of the Knights’ opening league game in 2015 had not gone to plan, with the home side unexpectedly trailing 0-1 at the break.
Avondale took the lead in the 28th minute following a defensive mix up as Chris May came out of his area, but the ‘keeper’s clearance was picked off by Chris Irwin who lobbed into the open net from some 30 yards out.
The equaliser eventually came in the 52nd minute from a more unlikely source. Joshua Brekalo had been introduced at half time in place of Anthony Colosimo and the fullback took only seven minutes to make his mark. He took down a loose ball on his chest before lashing it into the far corner on the half volley to rouse Knights Stadium.
Ten minutes later the home side was ahead. Some fantastic work from new signing Adrian Zahra put Andrew Barisic through on goal and the striker finished with class past the ‘keeper.
The result was complete deep into stoppage time when Alex Dao pounced in the six-yard box to tap home his first goal for the club and cue celebrations at Somers St.
Earlier on it was the visitors who emerged with the plaudits, as two first half free kicks came close to being the opening goal. First Andrew Le Page drew a diving save from May before Jonathan Munoz’s curing effort flew inches wider of the post.
The Knights’ first real chance came in the 36th minute when a flicked on cross arrived to Barisic at the back post, but his header skimmed the cross bar.
Down the other end Irwin was unlucky not to double his tally, speeding into the area only to see his strike also rebound off the cross bar.
Andrew Marth’s men commenced the second half in brighter fashion, as a brilliant exchange of passes between Zahra and James McGarry ended in the latter hitting a long-distance strike a little too high.
Oleksiy Khrapko’s low left foot shot hit the upright for the visitors moments before Barisic put the Knights ahead straight down the other end.
With 17 minutes remaining the frontman looked for his second, swivelling nicely before hitting a half volley that was well saved.
Substitute Josh Berrios came very close to scoring the Knights’ third when he couldn’t quite get enough on an incoming cross before Dao put the result beyond doubt.