When the full time whistle blew on Friday Night in Melbourne Knights’ 1-1 draw with Port Melbourne, the average age of the players on the field was just 21, with Ben Surey and Jason Hicks being the only players over the age of 22.
Many would have excused the Knights had Port Melbourne ran rampant with the game, but with just 10 ‘men’ for 70 minutes, Andrew Marth’s young brigade showed the fight, character and heart that is required to wear the famous red shirt. Just a fortnight earlier, that same young side succumbed to a relentless Heidelberg outfit.
Instead of allowing their more experienced opponents to run over the top of them this time, the Knights dug deep on the back of some heroics from Chalmers in goal to steal the lead just before half time. It only took another controversial penalty to bring Port back into the game.
Losing captain Milan Batur early on in the match forced Marth to bring on Ivan Grgic to fill the hole. The back four consisted of Nick Glavan 19, Anthony Katiforis 18, Ivan Grgic 18 and Stefan Cali 22. Without delving into the history books, this would have to be one of the youngest defences in the history of the Club.
The Club has always prided itself on producing and developing young talent, and Friday night was a sublime example that the production line is well and truly in full swing. Those who remember Andrew Marth in his playing days will notice the eerie resemblance the squad showed in terms of effort and heart once attributed to the head coach.
Speaking after the game, Anthony Katiforis described the key role he and others had to play following the sending off.
“We knew it was going to be a big test for us, but it’s the part the likes of Glavan, Grgic, Cali and I have to play to step up and show we are capable of stepping up and playing at this level no matter what age we are”.
Indeed Katiforis and co. showed maturity well beyond their years to not be overwhelmed by the situation confronting them, and earning much deserved respect and praise from fans and pundits alike.
The season may still be young, but the future of the Knights is bright. Each week brings on a new challenge and while we must be patient with the young team, performances like the one of Friday night are sure signs that the Knights production line will continue to produce talents for the foreseeable future.