Melbourne Knights and Hume City played out a 0-0 draw in their Mirabella Cup clash at Knights Stadium on Wednesday night.
A number of supporters from both clubs braved the wintery conditions to witness a fiery but enthralling contest between the two sides.
It was the second time the Knights and Hume had met in four days after the Knights defeated Hume 4-2 in the last round of the VPL season last Sunday afternoon.
The Knights controlled the majority of the possession in the match but failed to turn their dominance into goals as a number of chances went begging.
Hume’s player/manager Andy Vlahos named a very youthful line-up, obviously resting a number of players for this weekend’s qualifying final against Oakleigh Cannons.
Melbourne Knights made just one change to their squad with Shayan Alinejad brought in to the starting eleven in place of Tomislav Uskok by Paul Magdic.
With the rain falling as the contest started the wet and slippery pitch made it difficult for both sides to keep possession of the football. Passes were going astray and crosses were being over-hit as the players adapted to the harsh conditions.
The Knights had a huge penalty shout on 15 minutes when Craig Sweeney appeared to be brought down in the box but the referee pointed for a corner instead. Hume went down the other end instantly and had a penalty shout of their own but once again the referee waved the protests away.
Josip Kozic created the first real chance of the match on 34 minutes when he whipped a dangerous free-kick into the area with Craig Sweeney connecting with the ball but he could only direct his header over the bar.
Sweeney tried his luck just a minute later with a strike from outside the box that sailed way over the crossbar.
Paul Magdic looked to his bench at the break and brought on in-form striker Kayne Vincent in place of Shayan Alinejad. Vincent changed the game when he came on as a second half substitute last Sunday against Hume, scoring a brace to help the Knights to victory.
And he almost created the opening goal of the match five minutes into the second period when he floated a ball into the penalty area but the Hume keeper came off his line well to punch the ball away from danger.
The Knights faithful leapt out of their seats on 55 minutes after they thought the Knights deserved a penalty when Jacob Colosimo was seemingly fouled by the Hume keeper after being played in by Craig Sweeney.
Once again the referee waved away the protests and the Knights fans had more reason to jeer the referee when Leo Shin was sent off the field after picking up his second yellow card in four minutes shortly after the hour mark.
Shin’s sending off changed the entire complexity of the game as Hume for the first time in the match were actually starting to keep hold of the possession and mount threatening attacks.
Hume almost found a goal on 74 minutes when Richie Cardozo curled in a very dangerous ball to the back post with the resulting strike from Sam Dehaini flashing across the face of the goal and out for a goal-kick.
Yusuf Yusuf entered the fray and was almost the Knights’ hero when he hit a wonderful curling effort from outside the box but the ball wouldn’t drop in time with it scraping off the crossbar to the relief of the Hume players and fans.
Both sides pushed late for a winning goal but had to settle for a point a piece. Melbourne Knights will now face Green Gully next Wednesday night at Knights Stadium with a draw enough to see them into the semi-finals of the Mirabella Cup.
By David Manuca