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Mirabella Cup: Knights prevail to book semi final berth

The Melbourne Knights have cemented their place in the Semi-Finals of the Mirabella Cup by recording a gratifying 1-0 victory over current VPL minor premiers Green Gully Cavaliers at Knights Stadium. Brandon Zezovski’s wonder strike in the opening minutes ultimately proved to be difference in sealing the win. The beautifully crafted goal was worth its winners tag and is destined to be a hit amongst the highlights reel.

Despite losing the game, the Cavaliers had already booked their place in the next round of the competition, courtesy of their 1-0 win over Hume City in the opening Pool A game. After having the bye in the first week of the VPL finals, Green Gully were able to gain some vital game-time into the legs of several key players in preparation for Saturday’s Major Semi-Final with Hume City. In many respects, it was somewhat surprising to see Green Gully play many first choice players, given the three-day gap between the Mirabella Cup and finals game.

Nonetheless, the Cavaliers almost got off to the perfect start, barely two minutes after kick-off. A piercing through-ball down the right wing caught the Knights’ defence off guard. Pasquale Vizzari met the ball and was surprisingly through on goal with only the keeper to beat. With time to spare, Piazzari shuffled his way into the box, and miscued his shot across the face of goal.

The miss ultimately had severe consequences, as the Knights opened the scoring moments later. After the Knights received a corner, the ball was subsequently crossed into a horde of players. Gully apprehensively cleared the ball in the vicinity of where the attack began. With confusion mounting amongst the Gully defence, a floating cross found Zezovski unmarked at the far post, who struck a fantastic volley across the goal into the bottom right corner of the net. Zezovski’s technique was simply brilliant, getting his body weight over the ball, allowing him to accurately place his volley low and hard.

Following the goal, neither team looked exceedingly threatening on their opposition’s half. Possession was often wasted, with several turnovers evident, predominantly through the midfield.

Following 33 minutes, Green Gully almost had an equaliser, through an apparent brain freeze from the Knights’ keeper, Martin John. After failing to deal with a regulation cross, the ball slipped out of John’s hand whilst attempting to throw the ball out, falling in the path of Vizzari. With merely the keeper in his path, he attempted to round John and looked to have been brought down in the process. However, the referee ignored the penalty claims and pointed for a goal kick.

Jacob Colosimo almost doubled his side’s advantage just before the half time break. Receiving the ball on the left, Colosimo took on and beat his opponent on the edge of the box. On an acute angle he struck the ball low and hard, however Nikola Roganovic made an impressive save to keep the score line at 1-0.

Minutes later the referee blew for the half time interval, with Melbourne Knights leading Green Gully 1-0.

In the opening minutes of the second period, both teams illustrated their intentions to play attacking football, fetching numbers forward, attempting to apply pressure on their opposition’s goal.

Whilst both outfits acquired an attacking mind-set, there was little room given in the final third, as neither side gave adequate space for their opponent’s to run in on goal.

Both outfits found it ostensibly difficult to find a way past their opponents defence, with very few chances through on goal in the second half.

The Knights came closest to doubling their lead through Ryan Filipovic. He tried his luck from long range in the 70th minute, with a menacing 25-yard drive. The ball drifted agonisingly wide of the left post, in what would have been a breathtaking goal.

Green Gully continually endeavoured to score an equaliser, however found it extremely difficult to penetrate on the Knights’ goal. The Knights withstood Gully’s late charge, staying composed at the back and not panicking under relentless pressure.

The Knights held on to overcome Green Gully 1-0 and join their opponents in the Semi-Finals of the competition. Given the Cavaliers had already progressed; it was a tougher than expected encounter, as the Knights orchestrated a gallant display to win their place into the next round.

By Robert Di Fabio

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