The Melbourne Knights defeated South Melbourne 2-1 in the 87th Melbourne derby in front of over 1200 people at Knights Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Knights prevail in 87th Melbourne derby
James McGarry gave the Knights the lead midway through the first half in fortunate circumstances before Tyson Holmes levelled on 32 minutes with a nice finish.
Andrew Barisic continued his rich form with his seventh goal of the season since joining mid-season, with a sublime finish giving the host the lead.
Despite South bombarding the Knights’ box in the dying moments, the Knights held on thanks to Barisic’s late, crucial clearance and ‘keeper Chris May’s wonderful save, meaning the host moved closer to securing second spot.
After a slow start, both sides started to get into their groove as Nicky Soolsma drilled just wide of the upright, before Barisic had his half-volley palmed away by South ‘keeper Peter Gavalas.
On 26 minutes Melbourne Knights took the lead as McGarry’s over-hit free kick flew over the goal line – with the assistance of the wind – and pushed Gavalas over the line with it.
But South equalised only six minutes later through Holmes as the Queenslander received the ball on his chest, turned and picked out the bottom corner with a superb finish.
The Knights had plenty of possession in their attacking third, but their final ball into the box was a massive let down.
Up the other end South was creating its fair share of chances, although its inaccuracy in front of goal was a constant frustration as it rarely tested May in the first half.
Just before the break Trent Rixon thought he had given the visitor the lead, poking in from a cross from the right, but the assistant waved his flag for offside meaning the two sides went into the break level.
South came out after the break the brighter of the two sides as Soolsma had a free kick punched away by May, before Luke Hopper blasted an effort over instead of picking out the unmarked Soolsma just yards out from goal.
Shortly after, Shayan Alinejad ran onto a beautiful through ball from McGarry and had only Gavalas to beat, but the winger missed the golden chance when he chipped wide.
But Alinejad’s miss wasn’t as costly as it could have been, as on 67 minutes Barisic found the top corner from the edge of the box with a sensational curling effort, sending the large crowd at Knights Stadium into euphoria.
With five minutes left on the clock Rixon could have snatched the equaliser from Soolsma’s in-swinging corner, but the former Northcote captain directed his header over the top.
In the dying moments Barisic was the hero again with a clearing header a metre off the goal line after May rushed out and failed to punch a long South free kick.
In the second minute of stoppage time, May gifted South a glorious chance to take a share of the points as the Knights custodian’s kick was misdirected to substitute Alan Kearney.
Kearney, from the edge of the centre circle, saw May off his line and tried his chances, but May recovered sensationally to tap the ball over the bar.
Melbourne Knights coach Andrew Marth was very happy with the result, which he thought his side deserved.
“I’m extremely happy,” Marth said.
“We grafted out a result today, which I thought, we probably did deserve.”
Marth and Knights are now focusing on finishing in the top three and not top spot as the former Socceroo believes Northcote deserves to lead the pack.
“First and foremost we want to get into the top five, we’ve achieved that and ideally we want to get top three and we’re almost there,” he said.
“I think Northcote thoroughly deserve to be top and I think they are an exceptional team. Couple of other good teams are there, so I think we are in the mix.”
South Melbourne coach Chris Taylor was disappointed that his side gifted the Knights two goals.
“We’re like a charity shop at the moment,” Taylor said.
“We gifted them two goals. You don’t come away from home and concede two goals and expect to win.”
Both sides will have next weekend off since they won’t be taking part in the State Knockout Cup Grand Final.
The Knights travel to Hume City the following Sunday, while South Melbourne hosts Northcote City on Saturday September 14.
Melbourne Knights XI: Chris MAY, Adam ZILIC, James MCGARRY, Andrew BARISIC, William MCLACHLAN, Marijan CVITKOVIC (Christopher TALAJIC 46’ (Jacob COLOSIMO 72’)), Milan BATUR, Ben SUREY, Josh BERRIOS, Shayan ALINEJAD (Ryan FILIPOVIC 90+3’), Sam TORRENS
Unused subs: Matthew HRASTOV, Michael SIMMS
Goals: McGarry (26’), Barisic (87’)
Yellow cards: Barisic (67’), McLachlan (80’), Zilic (82’), Alinejad (89’)
South Melbourne XI: Peter GAVALAS, Shpetim MALA (Jonathan MUNOZ 90’), Bryan BRAN, Nick EPIFANO (Rhys MEREDITH 82’), Luke HOPPER, Trent RIXON, Tyson HOLMES (Alan KEARNEY 72’), Brad NORTON, Iqbal JAWADI, Nicky SOOLSMA, Shaun KELLY
Unused subs: Chris MAYNARD, Dimi TSIARIS
Goals: Holmes (32’)
Yellow cards: None
Under 21s: Melbourne Knights 4-2 South Melbourne