A hat-trick from Sydney United’s Luka Glavas has secured the 2010 Friendship Cup with the Knights putting in a very firm display against the more fancied 2009 NSW Champion.
The game opened with a flurry of possession for the home side but it was the Knights who looked the more dangerous on the counter-attack.
Liam Cannell surprised the experienced United defence in the fourth minute when he cut in behind stalwart Joe Vrkic only to see his shot from just outside the box rattle Vedran Janjetovic’s upright.
Sydney’s new signing Shane Lyons fought for control of the midfield with new Knights signings Ivica Praiz and Ben Surey, while up front the potent duo of former Sydney Olympic striker Michael Cindric and the pacey Glavas caused many headaches for the Knights defence marshalled by Daniel Rocco, Bryan Bran and Ryan Filipovic.
The Knights drew first blood just before the break when Ivica Praiz put the ball onto the head of ex-Grenoble FC (Switzerland) striker Jean-Charles Dubois to send the travelling Knights contingent into raptures.
Going into the break David Zdrilic’s men were stunned with what had seemed to them on paper, a walkover.
Knights coach Ivan Duzel was content with his side’s efforts in the first half and asked for more of the same, while David Zdrilic and his assistant Richard Plesa blasted their players for being run over the park by the lively Knights.
The message was heeded as Elsid Barkhousir was granted a very dubious penalty two minutes after the break. Glavas did not hesitate putting the ball past Ante Loncaric.
20 minutes of sustained United pressure took its toll on the tiring Knights who arrived by coach from Melbourne earlier that day, taking the lead thanks to some brilliant work from substitute Ante Tomic to keep the ball in play, feeding it through to Elsid Barkhousier who produced a sublime low cross for the well positioned Luka Glavas who slotted home his second of the evening.
With the game looking as though it would finish as 2-1, Knights coach Ivan Duzel made a triple-substitution – bringing on new signings Josip Magdic, Tommy Ples and Scott Lucas.
The aggressive Magdic found space late in the game to beat two defenders and cross the ball just over Canadian-Croatian striker Ples to Liam Cannell who headed the ball powerfully past United substitue Roy Bell which left the home fans deflated.
Although the Knights showed much spirit in equalising after being run over the park by a rampant United for 20 minutes straight – it was not to be as Glavas snatched an injury time winner sending the Edensor Park crowd into a frenzy.
United player-coach David Zdrilic was pleased with his side’s composure in coming from behind; “I was very impressed with the Knights side today. They destroyed us in the first half and could have been a few goals up but it was not to be. I’m proud of my boys who didn’t give up as I knew that the Melbourne boys would drop off towards the end of the match due to the fatigue associated with travel. People were telling me before the game that they had lost their whole team from last season and had only retained three players from that squad. Obviously we would have been confident in beating a side that has only just come together. It’s a credit to Ivan Duzel who has assembled a very competitive and well organised side that will do well this year. I wish them all the best.”
Knights coach Ivan Duzel echoed Zdrilic’s sentiment: “I think we did very well today. I just hate conceding in the last minute and losing the game like that – but this has been a great learning experience for the team. They performed well for each other and the fans and I am confident that we will do well this year.”
50. Vedran Janjetovic (23. Roy Bell 45’), 25. Michael Cindric, 40. Joe Vrkic (8. George Strogylos 55’), 29. Shane Lyons, 3. Damon Collina (38. Adam Jenner 55’), 21. Ivo Bosnar, 33. Steve Hayes, 18. Petar Markovic (5. Ante Tomic 64’), 35. Elsid Barkhousir (41. Sean Mitchell 76’), 13. David Zdrilic (9. Tommy Cirjar 88’), 11. Luka Glavas
Subs not used: 28. Daniel Rezo, 2. Steven Veleski
1. Ante Loncaric (22. Mate Vrbec 90’), 6. Daniel Rocco, 7. Liam Cannell, 2. Ryan Filipovic (15. Scott Lucas 55’), 4. Ben Surey, 10. Ivica Praiz (17. Josip Magdic 88’), 5. Bryan Bran, 12. Anthony Colosimo (19. Andrew Bourakis 68’), 8. Kevin Townsend, 9. Adrian Zahra (11. Tomislav Ples 80’), 14. Jean-Charles Dubois (16. Jacob Collosimo 48’)