On Friday night, in wet and windy conditions, the Melbourne Knights played host to Heidelberg United in the VPL match of the round. With both sides showing much improvement over the second half of the season, fans anticipated an exciting fixture between the former NSL rivals.
The opening whistle coincided with the rain that made conditions difficult underfoot, but the home side quickly pushed the visitors into their back half winning two early corners. Heidelberg comfortably dealt with the early pressure, and wasted no time hitting the Knights on the break down the right wing, which saw a pinpoint cross find Saso Alexovski completely unmarked from 6 yards out to smash home on the volley to give the visitors a dream start.
Shocked into action the Knights pushed forward and earned another corner, this time Sweeney found Filipovic at the far post to head back into the middle for Uskok who saw his close range header at goal blocked by some desperate defending from Luke Byles.
The pace of Osagie Ederaro was a real threat to the taller and slower Knights defenders, with the fleet-footed winger running at them with speed and step overs. The visitors clearly adapted to the conditions better then the home side, who found it difficult to play to their usual fast passing style of football.
When the Knights did manage to get into dangerous areas, they squandered their chances with Craig Sweeney blazing over from the edge of the area, and Jacob Colosimo seeing his effort from 6 yards out blocked out by the formidable Heidelberg defence.
Heidelberg almost doubled their lead on the stroke of half time, after Ederaro released Hamlet Armenian through on goal, but from a tight angle he could only hit his shot into the side net.
The second half began much as the first half ended, with the Knights failing in the final third, and looking shaky against the fast counter attacking of the visitors.
Anthony Colosimo did well to win steal possession off a Heidelberg defender, but his quick cross caught Jacob Colosimo by surprise who could only knee his shot over the crossbar.
Just minutes later Anthony Colosimo set up an opportunity for Josip Magdic to strike at goal, only for another effort on goal to fly over the bar, leaving Heidelberg’s debut goalkeeper Keene untested.
In the 65th minute Luke Doumboulis had the chance to put the game beyond doubt following a corner to the visitors, but could only header his effort from close range straight into the grateful arms of Martin John.
The Knights looked to the bench and gave a home debut to new signing Kayne Vincent. The New Zealand striker signed from Churchill Brothers in India took less then ten minutes to repay the faith and find an equalizing goal for the home side, scoring from close range on the second effort.
With new-found belief the Knights searched for the winning goal, but Heidelberg’s formidable defence were not going to be breached again, and ultimately the teams shared the points from this hard-fought contest.
Next week the Knights play host to sister club and State One bound St Albans Saints.
In the Under 21’s Melbourne Knights defeated Heidelberg 4-1, with goals from Yusuf Yusuf, Christopher Talajic and a double for Brandon Zezovski.
SHOTS: MK 6 HU 4, TARGET: MK 1 HU 2, CORNERS: MK 9 HU 6
Melbourne Knights: John, Filipovic, Shin, Uskok, Magdic, Kozic (Vincent 65’), Franjic, A. Colosimo, Zilic (S. Romein 60’), J. Colosimo, Sweeney.
Not Used: A. Romein, Saglam.
Goals: Kayne Vincent 75’.
Heidelberg United. Keene, Elvin, Byles, Martin, Doumbalis, Armenian (Papadopoulos 90’), Travis, Christodoulou (Alilovic 72’), Ederaro, Alexovski, McIlroy (Nabbout 81’).
Goals: Saso Alexovski 6’.
Crowd: Approx 750 @ Knights Stadium.
By Andrew Fisher (Goal Weekly)