Knights round out the season in fourth

Melbourne Knights closed out the 2023 NPL Victoria season with a 3-2 Round 26 defeat against Heidelberg United at Olympic Village on Saturday afternoon.

Kaine Sheppard and Mohamed Aidara were on target for the hosts while Mitch Hore and Mohammad Sumaoro netted for a Knights side who were locked in for a fourth placed finish prior to kick off in Saturday’s match.

Hore opened the scoring in the seventh minute when he got in behind the Bergers defence on the end of a well-worked team move and finished one-on-one for what was his fourth goal of the season.

The home side restored parity just two minutes later through Sheppard who slammed home a first-time finish after a cut-back from Aamir Abdallah.

Sheppard then put Heidelberg in front on the stroke of half time with a bullet header on the end of an Adrian Zahra cross from deep.

Aidara added a third for the home side when he turned home a Bilal Habib cross with a finish at the back post in the 72nd minute.

Sumaoro bundled home Knights second of the afternoon in second half stoppage time after Pierce Clarke could only get fingertips to Felipe Sanchez’s initial header.

Saturday’s match concludes a regular season in which Knights have matched their best ever NPL Victoria finish of fourth placed and secured a return to finals football for the first time since 2015.

Knights will host Port Melbourne next weekend in the elimination final after the Sharks secured fifth place with a 4-0 win over sixth placed Altona Magic at JL Murphy Reserve on Saturday.

Speaking post-match Cahn said his were ready to give everything in in next weekend’s match at Knights Stadium.

“It was a strange game, with neither team having anything to play for, the game lacked a bit of intensity,” Cahn said

“The important thing is that we now go into next week with everybody available, fresh and ready to go.

“We’ve got a big week coming up as we go into finals and the Australia Cup Round of 16, these are the weeks that we set out to bring back so we’ll embrace the challenge, enjoy every moment and make sure we’re ready to give everything for our home support.”

Match details for next weekend’s elimination final are yet to be confirmed but the game will kick off a huge week at Knights Stadium with Ben Cahn’s side also hosting NPL SA outfit Campbelltown City in the Australia Cup Round 16 on Tuesday the 29th of August.

MATCH DETAILS

NPL Victoria 2023 – Round 26: Heidelberg United v Melbourne Knights

Olympic Village, Heidelberg

Saturday, August 19

Heidelberg United 3 – (Kaine SHEPPARD 9’ 44, Mohamed AIDARA 72’)

Melbourne Knights 2 – (Mitch HORE 7’ Mohammad SUMAORO 94’)

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