A Tomislav Uskok goal in the dying minutes of extra time saw Melbourne Knights defeat South Springvale and claim the 2014 Dockerty Cup at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday night.
Having valiantly held on to a clean sheet for just over two hours, South Springvale simply couldn’t deny its NPL counterpart, which won its first Dockerty Cup title since 1996 – the year current coach Andrew Marth captained the Knights to glory.
The Knights came out of the blocks on top, dominating possession and forcing their opponents to sit back and defend a wave of attacks.
It was South Springvale, though, who had the first real chance of the match as a fantastic cross to the back post found Ali Hameed, but the former Southern Stars winger saw his effort brilliantly denied by Michael O’Farrell in the 18th minute.
Knights was the next to go close just eight minutes later as Stipo Andrijasevic found space on the edge of the area, but his half-volley flew over the crossbar.
South Springvale continued to look dangerous on the counter attack with the pace of Hameed and Alex Florea causing problems for the Knights’ backline, but neither side could find that final pass required for a clear scoring opportunity.
Uskok then had a great opportunity to open the scoring in the 63rd minute but his effort was brilliantly saved by Rani Dowisha – winner of the best-on-ground medal – before being cleared away off the goal line.
The introductions of former NSL and A-League veterans Bill Damianos and Ricky Diaco turned the tables completely for the underdogs with 20 minutes remaining.
Having played over 200 games of top-flight Victorian football between them, their experience certainly made a telling difference as South Springvale begun to push forward in search of a winner.
Neither side could be separated over the course of 90 minutes, as the match went into extra time.
With a significantly older and more experienced outfit, South Springvale sat back and waited for an opportunity to counter as the Knights dominated possession.
Dowisha proved to be in inspired form, making a number of crucial saves in the first period of extra time to keep South Springvale alive.
Ricky Diaco then had a chance from 25-yards out with a direct free kick, but his effort skimmed the cross bar on the way over to the dismay of a buoyant South Springvale faithful.
And just when it seemed that the match was going to penalties, the Knights stole the winner through Uskok.
The tall midfielder was in the right place at the right time following a goal-mouth scramble to bundle the ball over the line and seal the Knights’ ninth Dockerty Cup title.