Ahhhh. Another OG Melbourne Derby comes and goes as the Knights have handed South Melbourne their first defeat of the NPL Victoria season, with a gutsy 1-nil victory at home.
Melbourne Knights Starting XI:
Thomas Manos (GK), Nikola Jurkovic (C), Anthony Duzel, James McGarry, Alun Webb, Gian Albano, Daniel Petrov, Trevor Zwetsloot, Felipe Sanchez, Dor Jok, Nick Glavan
Melbourne Knights Substitutes:
Harry Cakarun (GK), Jack Marth, Mohammed Sumaoro, Trevor Ssemakula, Joseph Colina
After a bitter loss to South earlier in the week, the Knights bowed out of the FFA Cup after 120 minutes of football and penalties. After a physical match and only three nights break, both sides went into Friday’s Derby knowing the other would still be feeling the effects of Tuesday’s game.
A nervous first half saw neither side topple the other. After one minute of additional time, the referee called for an end to the half, putting a lacklustre first half in the books.
The second half held all of the action – it began with a substitution for the Knights. Gian Albano was replaced by Mohamad Sumaoro.
Referee Bavcar wasted no time issuing citations in the second half as South Melbourne collected their second yellow, before activating a triple substitution in just the 55th minute. Minutes later, South Melbourne substitute Zach Bates saw yellow, their third of the match.
Anthony Duzel was the first Knight to be receive a yellow, and subsequently, he will miss the next match due to accumulation. Three minutes later, Felipe Sanchez received his first yellow card of the year.
Into the final 30 minutes of the match and both sides wishing to make the most of their chances, a shot from Anthony Duzel forced a save from the keeper, deflecting the ball into the patch of debutant Dor Jok – who made no mistake from point blank range. Jok’s first senior goal fired the Knights into the lead.
With 18 minutes of regular time still to play, the Knights opted for their final substitutions of the match. Trevor Ssemakula replaced Felipe Sanchez and Jack Marth came on for Nick Glavan who suffered a suspected hamstring injury.
With 10 minutes on the clock, the Knights were reduced to ten men, as Alun Webb also looked to sustain yet another injury, no doubt still feeling the effects from Tuesday’s game.
In the final gasps of the match, the Knights displayed a valiant performance – holding onto the 1-nil score line despite the man deficit – claiming all three points and handing South Melbourne their maiden loss of the season.
Post-match, assistant coach Diogo Ferreira praised the importance of the win, after bowing out of the FFA Cup to the same opponents. Exclaiming the importance of the win for the fans, “we know how important this game is for them, and it was good to do it here at home”.
Ferreira described the win as “massive”, reiterating “it’s another three points and it keeps our season going”. He continued, admiring Dor Jok’s recent form, “he deserved the opportunity”.
On the string of injuries that occurred during the week, Ferreira said, “it just means that other people will get opportunities, that’s how it works in football”.
Following round 11 action, this win pushes the Knights back into fourth on the table, consequently South Melbourne slid to second – after receiving their first loss. It is a tight affair at the top of the table, with four points separating the top six teams.
Next Friday night, the Knights will be hosted by the Bentleigh Greens in round 12 of the NPL Victoria season.
– Tom Hayes