Sunday 10 September 2000
The Melbourne Knights opened the 2000/2001 season with a come from behind 3:2 victory against the newly renamed Eastern Pride in the opening round of the Tynan-Eyre Preseason Cup at the Kingston Heath Complex in Bentleigh yesterday afternoon.
Played in cold conditions on an extremely ‘chopped up’ turf, which wasn’t helped by the fact that the Knights-Pride game was the second encounter of a double header (South Melbourne defeated Carlton 3:1 in the early game), the game was never going to be an attractive one from the spectator’s point of view.
Nevertheless, a healthy crowd of approximately 1,500 had braved the wintry weather in order to see the new look NSL teams in action.
The Knights went into the game fielding several new recruits as well as a couple of guest players.
Despite the extremely heavy conditions, South Australian recruit Joel Porter showed that he is going to be a quality player in the attacking department this season. Joe Kozic, from VPL side Preston, also was particularly impressive in midfield.
The Pride, formerly known as the Gippsland Falcons, took the lead through Juan Nilo in the firsthalf, but the Knights equalised before the end of the first stanza through a Joel Porter goal, his fourth goal in the last four consecutive practise matches.
Porter cleverly headed the ball into the back of the net after latching onto the end of a superb Andy Vargas corner.
In the second half, the Pride took the lead once again through Juan Nilo which was cancelled out by a perfectly executed penalty kick by rising star Anthony Pelikan.
Pelikan was ordered by the referee to re-take his kick but that made no difference as the youngster slotted the ball home to keep the Knights in the match.
The Knights secured victory three minutes from the end when midfielder Joey Rajher made a dash up the sideline, crossed the ball ‘inch-perfectly’ to the unmarked guest player Xhezair Sulemani, who volleyed the ball past the Eastern Pride keeper into the opposition’s net.
Sulemani, who is currently a South Dandenong striker, had a scintillating second half and it wouldn’t surprise if Knights coach Vlado Vanis wants to take a second look at the skillful youngster in next week’s clash with Carlton.
That game will be played as the second match of the Round Two double header of the Tynan-Eyre Cup at the Green Gully Reserve on Saturday 16th September.
The Knights-Carlton game will kick off at 4pm.
Tynan-Eyre Round 1 Results:
Melbourne Knights defeated Eastern Pride 3:2 (Half-time 1:1)
South Melbourne defeated Carlton 3:1