A 93rd minute equalizer from Ryan Filipovic earnt the Melbourne Knights a 1-1 draw against bottom of the table St. Albans Saints at Churchill Reserve on Sunday afternoon.
Goran Jozeljic gave St. Albans the lead right on the hour mark but they were cruelly denied their first win of the season by Filipovic in the third minute of added time.
It was a very fiery derby game with some flying tackles and crushing challenges being thrown around by both teams with six yellow cards being shown in total.
St. Albans made four changes to the squad that lost last week 3-0 to Oakleigh Cannons bringing in goalkeeper Steven Pavlovic, Brian Chesson, Goran Jozeljic and Martin Hana for Antony Loncaric, Alan Paleka, Daniel Visevic and Stefan Piorkowski.
Luis Osoria, Stefan Jesensek and Marijan Cvitkovic were also promoted to the bench.
Three changes were made to the Melbourne Knights squad that crashed 2-1 to Heidelberg last round with Leo Shin, Josip Kozic and Yusuf Yusuf replaced in the starting eleven by Adam Zilic, Craig Sweeney and Mathieu Welmant.
Joseph Franjic and Jacob Colosimo were also both promoted to the bench for the Knights.
Melbourne Knights were looking to get out of the blocks quickly and Craig Sweeney hit an early strike from way outside the area high and wide.
St. Albans were also looking to get the early advantage and really should have taken the lead just three minutes in when Jozeljic was played in one on one with Martin John but he hit his shot straight at the Knights ‘keeper.
Fifteen minutes in and the Knights this time had a one on one opportunity when Josip Magdic played in Daniel Dragicevic but the youngster also hit his shot straight at the ‘keeper Steven Pavlovic.
After that saw a period of five minutes where three yellow cards were shown. Knight’s striker Jean-Charles Dubois was cautioned for a deliberate handball before Maks Cuze and Michael Grgic for the Saints both made it into the book for poor challenges.
Craig Sweeney attempted another strike from outside the area this time with it ending up on target only for Pavlovic to palm it over the bar.
Two minutes after that the Saints broke on a counter attack with the ball ending up out left Martin Hana who cut inside and curled in a shot which was headed in but it deflected off Zilic and out for a corner.
The rest of the half saw nothing much happen with Tomislav Milardovic given a yellow card and Dragicevic with a shot that was saved by Pavlovic.
In the second half it took until seven minutes in for someone to create the first opportunity. Dubois dribbles past two defenders before taking a shot but it was deflected out for a corner.
The Frenchman had another chance three minutes later when Dragicevic flicked the ball back to him in the box but he blasted his shot over the bar.
But right on the hour mark it was St. Albans who took the lead. Brian Chesson crossed in the ball from out right to Liam Cannell who chested the ball down to Goran Jozeljic who unleashed a cracking strike giving Martin John no chance.
Jean-Charles Dubois looked the most likely person to score for the Knights but again his strike from outside the area went wide.
New Melbourne Knights manager Paul Magdic decided to bring on some fresh legs replacing Welmant with Leo Shin.
Shin won a corner with his first touch of the ball but the Knights still couldn’t find the back of the net.
The Knights continued to push hard for a goal late in the match with the Saints becoming very nervous in defence.
Finally, and in the 93rd minute, the Saints defence cracked under pressure when they failed to deal with a low cross by Shin with the ball falling straight to the feet of Ryan Filipovic who controlled the ball blasting a shot into the back of the net from close range.
The goal denied St. Albans their first win of the 2011 Alanic Victorian Premier League season, the second time this season they’ve conceded a late equalizer at home after they also conceded late in their 3-3 draw with Springvale last month.
The Saints are still cemented to the bottom of the table with just three points whilst the point for Knights moves them up to equal ninth with VTC on nine points.
With the Easter Break this weekend VPL action will resume for the Saints on May 1 when they host Heidelberg whilst the Melbourne Knights will face Richmond at Knights Stadium, under lights on Friday 29th of April.
By David Manuca