Heidelberg United have came out on top in the relegation battle against the Melbourne Knights at the Olympic Village, finally lifting themselves off the bottom of the ladder following a hard fought 3-1 victory.
The match was a tighter contest than the score would suggest, as it proved to be a fast paced and entertaining game for the small, yet passionate crowd. In the end it was two defensive mistakes from Knights defender Ben Surrey that pushed Heidelberg over the line.
Heidelberg took an early lead on the 2nd minute from a set piece. A free kick on the edge of the area saw the ball sent into the goalmouth where Saso Alexovski headed the ball home for the opener.
Another close call soon after saw Heidelberg hit a cracking shot from distance which was parried away by Knights keeper Sebastian Mattei.
The Knights had their first chance of the match on the 10th minute, a pin-point cross into the box was met by in-coming striker Kevin Townson but the Englishman’s shot was denied by the woodwork.
Midway through the half the Knights should have had their equaliser when a sublime through ball released Adrian Zahra on goal, with only the keeper to beat. As Zahra stormed into the box the youngster tripped over his own feet giving the keeper Steven Tilovski the opportunity he needed to clean up the ball.
The rest of the half saw a tight struggle between the two sides and though there weren’t many chances both sides were playing with a high level of intensity, showing the importance of the match.
Early in the second half Heidelberg doubled their lead through a defensive error from Ben Surrey. The defender seemed to be day dreaming inside the Knights box as Alexovski snuck in, stealing the ball off Surrey and slotting the ball past a hapless Mattei.
Barely a few minutes later and the Knights pulled a goal back to bring themselves back into the game. The goal came from a corner that was initially well punched away by Tilovski, the Knights kept possession of the ball sending in a cross which Townson expertly finished from in front of goal.
On the 62 minute mark a ball from a Knights free kick fell to Josip Magdic inside the box, the midfielder couldn’t get the ball under control as he sent the ball wide of the mark.
Magdic was again in the thick of the action soon after. A brilliant Damien Gleize cross went straight to Magdic in the crowded box, the midfielder connected with a poorly taken volley that sent the ball meters over the crossbar.
The Knights continued to push hard until the very end as they desperately searched for an equaliser, but the Heidelberg defence did well to snuff out each attack.
With only two minutes remaining Heidelberg killed off the hopes of the Knights, as they put away their 3rd goal to clinch the three points. Yet again it proved to be a dreadful mistake by Surey that led to the goal. What should have been an easy clearance for Surey turned into disaster as he failed to control a simple ball, sending it into the path of a Heidelberg forward.
The Knights keeper reacted quickly coming off his line and intercepting the initial shot, but George Slefendorfas made no mistake with the follow up as he knocked the loose ball into the open goal.
The win now sees Heidelberg sitting in 11th position on the ladder. This Sunday the side will be on the road as they travel to Broadmeadows Valley Park to take on the high flying Hume City.
While the Knights will take on Knights Stadium co-tenants Sunshine George Cross in the Sunshine derby, also on Sunday. With the Knights now on the bottom of the ladder, nothing less than 3 points will be needed if the side is to save itself from relegation.
Paul Miller, George Slefendorfas, Sayeedreza Hossaini (Dennis Allilavic 53’), Josip Kosic, Luke Byles, Craig Elvin, Steve Martin, Osagie Ederaro, Saso Alexovski (Les Doumbalis 89’), Steve Tilovski, Tony Laverder (Junior Melo 61’)
Goals: Saso Alexovski 2’, 50’, George Slefendorfas 88’
Melbourne Knights: Ryan Filipovic, Anthony Bran, Ben Surey, Daniel Rocco (Liam Cannell 37’), Josip Magdic (Anthony Colosimo 80’), Kevin Townson, Adrian Zahra, Jean Dubois, Danny Tiatto, Damien Gleize (Jacob Colosimo 76’), Sebastian Mattei
Goals: Kevin Townson 52’