The Melbourne Knights started their NPL Victoria season with a thrilling 3-2 win over Oakleigh Cannons at Knights Stadium on Friday night. It was a balmy summer evening at Knights Stadium and with a definite buzz in the air, the round one clash against Oakleigh Cannons was a night to remember.
Asanovic’s maiden squad at the helm of Melbourne Knights saw the inclusion Harry Cakarun as number one goalkeeper as well as international Louis Fenton. Nate Foster made his debut appearance against his former club Oakleigh Cannons, with Ben Surey, Milan Batur and Josh Brekalo missing out on the final squad due to prevailing injuries.
— Melbourne Knights FC (@MelbKnights) February 23, 2018
Head coach, Aljosa Asanovic took charge of his first competitive game however, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Knights, who saw little of the ball in the opening twenty minutes.
In the sixth minute, the Knights got off to the worst possible start. A loose ball wasn’t dealt with and Oakleigh’s Wade Dekker poked the ball past Harry Cakarun at the near post, giving the visitors an early lead.
The Knights’ first clear chance came in the 33rd minute, as Foster danced his way inside the Oakleigh penalty area. Foster shifted the ball onto his right foot, before firing a low shot at Oakleigh’s John Honos, who denied the striker.
As half-time edged closer both sides picked up a handful of yellow cards and Asanovic was forced into making his first substitution.
The Knights entered the tunnel at half-time a goal down – a slow start to their NPL campaign.
However, the second half was a different story and Asanovic’s dressing room message to the boys certainly worked.
Three minutes into the second half, Nikola Jurkovic equalised for the Knights. A well-placed Marijan Cvitkovic free-kick was beautifully headed home by Jurkovic – giving the opposing goalkeeper little chance.
In the 62nd minute, the Knights took the lead. Foster chased down a loose ball which the Oakleigh defence didn’t deal with adequately, found space on his right foot and thumped the ball into the bottom corner – a league debut goal against his former club.
Eleven minutes later, the Knights went 3-1 up. Kym Harris gathered the ball in a wide position, fairly isolated and a fair distance from goal, he chased it towards to the boundary line and tried his luck with an ambitious cross which looked to be going out, however, it rebounded off the cross bar and into the bemused Honos who inadvertently directed it in.
In the 81st minute, the visitors pulled one back through Ryan Paczkowski – who finished convincingly from six yards.
Late in the game, a Cannons corner was met with a strong header from point-blank range, as Cakarun showed off his reaction skills to deny the opposition – the stoppage time heroics ensured all three points for the Knights.
As the full-time whistle blew, three well-earned points were greeted by a chorus of cheers from the vocal supporters in attendance.
With back to back home games, next Friday is shaping up to be another great night! The Melbourne Knights NPL Victoria Round 2 match sees us face off against Pascoe Vale SC. Bring the family and enjoy the night out at the soccer. RSVP to our event below, Memberships will be on sale from the club office and membership tent in front of the beer garden once again. Don’t miss out on your chance to be a part of something special!
Knights 3 Jurkovic 48' Foster 62' Harris 73'Cannons 2 Dekker 6' Packowski 81'Photos: Steve Starek MKFC