The Melbourne Knights have defeated the Port Melbourne Sharks 1-0 in a fierce encounter, to kick off the 2021 NPL Victoria season.
Melbourne Knights Starting XI:
Thomas Manos (GK), Nikola Jurkovic, Ayden Brice (C), Anthony Duzel, James McGarry, Alun Webb, Gian Albano, Caleb Mikulic, Daniel Petrov, Mohammed Sumaoro, Nicholas Glavan.
Harry Cakarun (GK), Jack Marth, Mathew Breeze, Trevor Zwetsloot, Felipe Sanchez.
In clear conditions at the SS Anderson Reserve in Port Melbourne, the Knights appeared to dominate majority of the match despite decisions going against them.
The Knights controlled the match from the get-go, having several attempts on goal within the first 15 minutes.
Gian Albano opened the Knights’ account for the season in the 17th minute, with an impressive finish from close range. Mohammed Sumaoro created a run down the left-flank, before squaring the ball into the path of Albano, who found the back of the net.
The Knights began to take control of the match, when a gutsy challenge from Nikola Jurkovic saw him sent off midway through the first half. Appearing in his 100th NPL match, Jurkovic was sent to the changerooms after only playing 27 minutes.
After the red card, Steve Bebic proceeded to make some strategical changes. Caleb Mikulic conceded his place on the pitch and was replaced by defender, Jack Marth. With the substitution came a change in formation for the remainder of the match.
Although they were down the 10-men, the Knights still managed to dictate the play with ease. With the bulk of the possession, the Knights made it to halftime with their 1-0 lead intact.
The second half resumed from a similar stance, the Knights still playing as if they had 11 men on the pitch.
As the second half carried on, Port Melbourne began to pick up the pace. A creative piece of play from the Sharks frontline, forced Thomas Manos to make a rash challenge in the box, resulting in a penalty for Port Melbourne.
Chris Duggan stepped up for the Sharks, and his penalty was saved by Manos, diving to his right. After conceding the penalty, Manos picked up the pieces of his own mess to keep the clean sheet intact.
This man right here! No wonder the Spanish named the word “hands” after him.
— Melbourne Knights FC (@MelbKnights) February 26, 2021
Soon after, the Knights made a swap in the midfield. In the 64th minute, Trevor Zwetsloot was introduced for his competitive debut, replacing fellow midfielder James McGarry.
The match entered a tense phase, as the Sharks looked to capitalise on the 10-men Knights. Alun Webb was taken off in the 76th minute and was interchanged for Mathew Breeze. In the Knights’ most recent encounter with the Sharks in season 2020, Breeze was shown a red card just before the close of the first half.
In the final 10 minutes, the Sharks looked the most dangerous. In the 80th minute, a shot from inside the box hit the post before ricocheting around the area, which was then cleared.
The Shark’s final chance was a penalty shout in the 90th minute, which was ultimately waved off. Ayden Brice made a 50/50 challenge in the box, which eventually saw the ball trickle out for a corner.
Minutes later the final whistle was blown, and the Knights completed a valiant 1-0 away victory, with just 10 men.
Starting off the season with a bang, the Knights will be looking forward to Round 2, when they host the Dandenong Thunder at Knights Stadium next Friday at the family friendly kick off time of 7:30pm .
Melbourne Croatia Soccer Club will be open for dinner after 5pm. Outside in the beer garden, the MCSC Beer Garden menu will be available, with Akord providing pre and post match entertainment. The children’s playground will also be open to keep the kids occupied.
2021 is all about Tradition, Passion and Loyalty and theres no better time to become a member of this proud club than now. 2021 MKFC memberships will be on sale at the club office on the night.
Beat the game day membership rush! Grab your 2021 MKFC membership online now and simply collect from the club office on game day. Follow the link for more information.
There’s something for the entire family and it’s an event not to be missed. Come down to Somers Street and cheer on the red, white and blue and let’s make season 2020 one to remember!
– Tom Hayes