The Melbourne Knights made it three wins from three under Andrew Marth on Sunday afternoon, defeating Richmond 1-0 at Knights Stadium.
In horrible conditions, Ben Surey’s 69th minute strike was enough for the Knights’ fourth win of the season, and their first at home.
As well as it being the Knights’ third win under Marth, it was also their third clean sheet.
“Obviously the boys put what we learnt over the past two or three weeks into practice. Our defensive structure is what we’ve worked on the most, and it’s pleasing that Richmond didn’t break us down at all,” Marth said after the match.
“People are doing their defensive duties, and it’s as simple as that. In the last two weeks – even three weeks with Ballarat – the boys did their job.”
The earlier downpour made for some scrappy exchanges at the start of the opening stanza, with no real significant attacks on goal.
Scott Muirhead’s 14th minute free kick found its way into the net after the Knights’ Adam Zilic upended Nick Marinos, but the goal was disallowed for a foul on Aaron Romein, as both sides struggled to penetrate with their passing.
Shayan Alinejad found his way through on goal midway into the half, only for Andrew Viola to quickly recover and thwart any chance of the hosts hitting the lead, with little to speak of as the half wore on.
The Knights had the bulk of possession, but neither side created anything in terms of chances.
Ben Surey again proved a calming influence in the hosts’ midfield, continuing to work well with the deep-lying Tomislav Uskok, but the Knights were lacking the quality final ball heading into the interval.
Jake Nakic brought out the best in a full-stretch Stjepan Gal in the 53rd minute with his stinging effort, however, as the Knights looked to consolidate on their possession.
Shayan Alinejad was unlucky not to be given a penalty in the 55th minute after Cannell had a sizeable clasp of his shirt, but the Knights eventually took advantage of their ascendancy in the 62nd minute, with Surey scoring in just his second game back.
After Richmond failed to clear their lines from a corner, Surey made them pay as he waited at the top of the box, driving home from 25 metres.
With both sides before the match wanting to keep some breathing space between themselves and the drop zone, Richmond coach Michael Chatzitrifronos looked to force a result from the substitute’s bench.
Davey Van’t Schip, Mate Eterovic and Devon Bonne all made their way on for the Eagles, but the Knights for the most part had their opponents under control.
Aaron Romein did well to keep out Van’t Schip’s deflected attempt from range in the 72nd, with Nick Marinos following up, but it was a performance that left much to be desired for the Richmond faithful.
“I’m not disappointed with the effort. The effort was there, but we were lacking that bit of quality,” Chatzitrifonos said post-match.
“It was really important that we didn’t lose, but there’s still a long way to go, and it isn’t dire straits yet.
“I thought we probably shaded them in the first half, but they were better as the match wore on, and we struggled to get forward create anything of any substance. We just sort of fell away.”
Richmond will have their work cut out for them on Friday night at home to league leaders Dandenong Thunder, while the Knights head to Kingston Heath to face Southern Stars on Saturday.
Melbourne Knights 1-0 Richmond
Melbourne Knights: 1. Aaron ROMEIN, 3. Ryan FILIPOVIC, 4. Adam ZILIC, 6. Tomislav USKOK, 7. Shaun ROMEIN, 8. Craig SWEENEY, 9. Jacob COLOSIMO (18. Brandon ZEZOVSKI 83’), 11. Anthony COLOSIMO, 12. Shayan ALINEJAD, 23. Jake NAKIC (16. Marijan CVITKOVIC 75’), 24. Ben SUREY
Goals: Surey 62’
Yellow Cards: A. Colosimo 16’, Uskok 59’, Surey 73’
Richmond: 1. Stjepan GAL, 2. Andrew VIOLA, 3. Erhan KARAHAN, 5. Liam CANNELL, 7. Timmy PURCELL (11. Mate ETEROVIC 78’), 8. Steven TOPALOVIC, 9. Michael CATALANO (12. Devon BONNE 83’), 10. Nick MARINOS, 14. Daniel VISEVIC, 17. Josh KWEFIO-OKAI (13. Davey VAN’T SCHIP 69’), 23. Scott MUIRHEAD
Yellow Cards: Karahan 20’, Visevic 25’, Cannell 35’, Topalovic 90+’