The Melbourne Knights kick-started their season at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening, taking the three points from archrivals South Melbourne with a vital 2-1 win.
Jacob Colosimo’s 70th minute goal proved to be the difference after Bradley Norton cancelled out Adam Zilic’s opener, in what was a gritty and determined effort from a Knights side that was languishing in the drop zone prior to the match.
The home side had the lion’s share of possession but were lacking incisiveness with the final ball, as stray passes going forward cost them a host of openings.
Hatzimouratis had the best chance of the match until that point in the 31st minute, getting on the end of Trifiro’s through ball with the ball going agonisingly over the bar.
Jake Nakic was the one creative positive for the visitors, displaying a calm lacking in his teammates, as the Knights hit the lead in the 39th minute against the run of play.
After winning a free kick 25 yards out, his deflected delivery found its way to Adam Zilic, who reacted brilliantly by flicking the ball past Peter Gavalas.
The Knights had the crucial advantage going into the break, but were lucky not to have conceded a minute later.
Dimi Hatzimouratis found himself open from six yards, only for the South Melbourne midfielder to blast straight into an approaching Aaron Romein.
Trent Rixon and Glen Trifiro were also denied by a desperate Knights defence in the ensuing five minutes.
Rixon had a chance to equalise ten minutes into the second half, but his glancing header from Hatzimouratis’ cross went wide of the top right hand corner.
In the 61st minute, South eventually equalised through Bradley Norton.
Glen Trifiro’s lofted cross was poorly dealt with by Romein, whose floundering deflection was met by Norton, who responded quickest with his header in the congestion.
Paul Magdic brought on Yusuf Yusuf for some much-needed spark on the flanks, and he delivered, brilliantly setting up the Knights’ second in the 70th minute.
The Knights were not to be denied, retaking the lead through Jacob Colosimo, who was able to score his first for the season after a jinking run and cutback from Yusuf on the right wing.
A late surge from the hosts bore no fruit, as they lost their second straight home game, with coach Peter Tsolakis commenting in a dejected South dressing room after the game.
“Again it’s a case of teams coming here and lifting, and I know the Knights were up for it coming into the game. They were coming off a bad result last week, and the difference between today and the match against Heidelberg was night and day, but that’s no excuse,” he said.
“I think we pretty much dominated the whole game and fell behind to a defensive error. We had another three or four chances and when you don’t take them, you get punished, so we’ve just got to bounce back.”
After last week’s demoralising home defeat to Heidelberg, Knights coach Paul Magdic was a in a more jovial mood post-match.
“There was only one option today and that was to win the game, especially in this atmosphere, and I couldn’t have asked for more from the boys. They totally deserve it.”
While encouraging the performance, Magdic was quick to point out that work is far from over if the Knights are to stay up in the Victorian Premier League.
“We had a crisis meeting after the Heidelberg game and the players had their own, and at the end of the day, we all want the same thing; to keep this club in the league. This sort of performance is what I strive for each and every week, and we need to be consistent.”
South will need to improve if they are to take anything from George Andrews Reserve on Saturday, when they face league-leaders Dandenong Thunder, while the Knights host Oakleigh Cannons at Somers Street on Sunday. – Ante Jukic
South Melbourne: 1. Peter GAVALAS, 3. Rhodri PAYNE, 6. Dimi TSIARAS, 8. Dimi HATZIMOURATIS (25. Kyle JORYEFF 76’), 9. Trent RIXON, 10. Glen TRIFIRO (20. Gianni DE NITTIS 82’), 11. Bradley NORTON, 13. Luke BYLES, 17. Matko BUDIMIR (7. Joseph KEENAN 66’), 18. Marinos GASPARIS, 23. Jason TRIFIRO
Goals: Bradley Norton 61’
Yellow Cards: Rhodri Payne 68’
Melbourne Knights: 1. Aaron ROMEIN, 2. Hrvoje SIBENIK, 4. Adam ZILIC, 6 Tomislav USKOK, 9. Jacob COLOSIMO (8. Craig SWEENEY 84’), 10. Josip KOZIC, 11. Anthony COLOSIMO, 12. Shayan ALINEJAD (19. Yusuf YUSUF 56’), 15. Louis FENTON, 17. Joseph FRANJIC, 23. Jake NAKIC
Goals: Adam Zilic 39’, Jacob Colosimo 69’
Yellow Cards: Joseph Franjic 24’