The Melbourne Knights couldn’t stem the tide of the past few games and succumbed to a narrow 1-0 defeat to the Bentleigh Greens on Friday night.
The Knights came into the game with a host of injuries, namely to Captain Josip Kozic, joint vice-captains Aaron Romein and Adam Zilic as well as Paul Magdic’s main strike option in Jacob Colosimo.
Bentleigh started the match brightly, with the Knights seemingly hesitant to committ too many men in the final third, sitting back and trying to soak up the pressure. A defensive lapse in the 10th minute allowed former Perth Glory man Scott Bulloch to find himself alone on the right wing behind both Ryan Filipovic and Craig Sweeney and as Hrastov advanced to close the angle, the nippy forward flicked it past the keeper giving him an open goal to shoot at albeit from a tight angle. He made no mistake.
Bentleigh looked content in protecting their lead, with their pacy young squad ready to pounce on any counter attacking opportunity. The Knights began to work themselves into the game which was turning into a real battle for possession in the middle of the park.
The Knights had a legitimate penalty shout turned down just on half-time. Starting debutant Chris Talajic ran onto a Ryan Filipovic through ball into the box but Bentleigh keeper Lawrence Thomas got to the ball first. As Lawrence fumbled possession it gave the nimble Talajic the opportunity to get up and basically run the ball in alone, but he was upended by Lawrence from behind, and although former referee of the year Shaun Evans had his view obstructed, his assistant provided none of what his title suggests. Talajic and the Knights were livid, with the youngster getting a deserved yellow card for dissent, and with that came half time.
The second half began at a blistering pace for the Knights with the always lively Louis Fenton causing headaches for the Bentleigh defence, while at the other end; Andrija Jukic was proving to be a handful as a roaming attacker.
The Knights pressed for the equaliser but Bentleigh held strong.
The Knights had two golden opportunities before the end to equalise, the first falling to the unmarked Fenton hovering on the left wing – the youngster’s attempted chip was just a touch too strong after Lawrence advanced well to tighten the angle.
The second came in the final seconds of the game as the Knights whipped in a cross that was headed towards goal by Ryan Filipovic, unfortunately for the Knights it was cleared off the line by Paulo Retro to Wilford who spotted Jukic on his right attacking wing. The Perth Glory attacking midfielder ran the ball down to the touchline and had an unmarked Skorich waiting on the 6 yard line for the simplest of tap ins, but fortunately for the Knights it was over hit a touch and was cleared for a throw in.
Knights coach Paul Magdic lamented the loss; “
“I’m a little bit disappointed because I felt that we deserved more out of the game, and I’m proud of the boys for coming out the way they did in the second half, but you have to take your chances and at the moment we’re not doing that. It’s back to the drawing board and we will soldier on.”
Asked whether the Knights were feeling the pressure, Magdic was honest; “Of course we are. We need results, any which way we can get them. I have faith in the team that we’ve put together and it frustrates me that we aren’t playing to our full potential.”
Bentleigh weren’t very impressive, but a win is a win as John Anastasiadis eloquently put it – I think the Knights put us under a lot of pressure, and they made it very difficult for us to play our natural game. That’s something that we’ve got to work on and examine, because we’re going to be up against teams like that all the time. The boys are going to have to play games where they need to grind the results out. That’s what we did today, so we’ll take the three points and move on.”
The Knights look to next week when they return home to take on former NSL combatant Heidelberg United in a match that may shape both side’s seasons’.
Bentleigh Greens: 1. Lawrence THOMAS, 14. Aron WILFORD, 22. Dominic D’ANGELO, 5. Nicholas ANSELL, 27. Luke PILKINGTON, 6. Evan BATSIS, 7. Nicholas CURTIS, 15. Luke O’DEA, 12. Paulo RETRE, 11. Phillip ARNOLD (13. Connor PAIN 60’), 10. Scott BULLOCH (23. Andrija JUKIC 25’)
Subs: 21. Christopher DAVIES, 9. ANTHONY SKORICH. 17. Jack WEBSTER
Goals: Scott Bulloch 10’
Yellow Cards: Pain 66’
Melbourne Knights: 21. Matthew HRASTOV, 3. Ryan FILIPOVIC (2. Hrvoje SIBENIK 89’), 6. Tomislav USKOK, 7. Shaun ROMEIN, 8. Craig SWEENEY, 11. Anthony COLOSIMO, 15. Louis FENTON, 16. Marijan CVITKOVIC, 17. Joseph FRANJIC, 22. Christopher TALAJIC (19. Yusuf YUSUF 62’), 23. Jake NAKIC (4. Kenta DOHI 77’)
Subs: 1. Paul MONACO, 5. David KUSTURA
Yellow Cards: Franjic 41’, Talajic 45’