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Knights start season on a loss

The Melbourne Knights began their Alanic Victorian Premier League campaign last night with a disappointing loss at home to Dandenong Thunder.
A solitary goal from Chris Taylor in the 74th minute gave the Thunder the advantage needed in cold, windswept conditions in front of just over 1200 spectators.
The Round 1 hitout began tentatively and never really got out of second gear in the first half with both sides happy to sit back and knock the ball around in safety not allowing either side to penetrate much into their attacking halves.
Dandenong’s hard working captain Veton Korcari caused a few headaches for the Knights’ central defenders Ryan Filipovic and Junior De Camargo, drifting in and out of play, while new Dandenong signing Matthew Theodore was kept quiet for most of the match.
Knights target man Jean-Charles Dubois grew more and more frustrated as his wingers Rudi Saglam and Daniel Dragicevic were both not receiving the ball enough, meaning the entire Knights attacking line drifted back in search of more of the ball. This caused the midfield and defence to sit back nullifying any sort of contest worth watching.
A match the truly fizzled out into a hard slog in the midfield was never going to set anyones house on fire, although the second half began more promisingly with much more open space to be found and exploited.
Although the Knights had little going forward in the way of significant chances, Dandenong was also stifled by the Knights back four, until the 60th minute where Matthew Theodore could have gifted his side the lead after the ball spilled out of the Knights’ box and into the former Victory striker’s path. Theodore’s curling shot beat the sea of bodies, goalkeeper Martin John but not the post and fizzled out to Anthony Colosimo who cleared the danger.
The Knights were continually being pressed into defending while Dandenong’s pressure was to pay off soon enough. A goal kick from Martin John found an unmarked Daniel Dragicevic who passed back to Anthony Colosimo first time, but his pass was to be found a little short forcing Colosimo into a last ditch tackle on the wing.
Midfielder Alex Rojas swung the ball into the Knights’ danger area and a scramble saw the ball fall to Veton Korcari whose shot was blocked well by Martin John at point blank range. The save was not enough however as the ball ricocheted to Dandenong’s Chris Taylor who shot from the penalty spot and into the roof of the net.
Dandenong had the lead and the Knights were chasing the game with 15 minutes to play.
It was from now that the Knights stepped up their game and reverted back to a similar attacking style of quick play down the wings and getting the ball into the box early, unfortunately it was too little too late. Dandenong rode out the pressure and took the three points.
Knights coach Ivan Duzel commented after the game; “I can’t believe we played like this. This style of so much defending and not much attacking does not suit us. We must lift against Northcote because they are a good side and with a performance like today’s we will not challenge anybody.”
At the end of the day the most frustrating part of it all for Knights fans was the fact that there was a distinct lack of forward penetration and creativity – something the fans have gotten used to under Duzel – attacking creativity and nice flowing play. Sunday’s performance was disjointed and out of the ordinary – a downright bad performance which most would rather forget.
The Knights now take on Northcote City next Saturday at John Cain Memorial Reserve, kick off at 5pm. Northcote nearly caused an upset to big-spending Oakleigh on Friday night, going down gallantly by one goal in a 3-2 classic.
The Knights’ next home game is on Friday 4th March at 8:30pm against Green Gully.

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