Melbourne Knights returned to the winners list with a crucial 3-1 win away to Pascoe Vale on Friday night at CB Smith Reserve.
With the Knights seemingly cruising with a 2-0 lead, the final minutes in stoppage time saw two goals and two red cards in an action packed finale at CB Smith Reserve.
Andrew Marth made two changes to his squad with Marijan Cvitkovic coming into the starting line up along with mid-season signing Damian Miskulin, as Anthony Katiforis dropped to the bench while captain Milan Batur missed through suspension.
The young defensive pair of Miskulin and Jurkovic were tasked with the role of ensuring Pasco’s main man Van ‘t Schip remained quiet, with the striker sending an early warning firing over the crossbar in the opening minutes.
Eerily similar to last week, the Knights were on top early and creating plenty of goalscoring opportunities. A McGarry marauding run into the box drew a good save from Pavlidis, while Andrijasevic shot just over the bar after cutting in from the right.
In the 15th minute, Jacob Colosimo failed to get onto the end of an Andrijasevic cross as a Knights opening goal looked ominous. Just five minutes later Andrijasevic went close again striking over the bar following some great build up work from Brekalo.
The home side almost stole the lead in the 24th minute with Joseph Youssef sending his effort narrowly wide of the far upright.
However the Knights deservedly took the lead in the 28th minute. James McGarry’s corner was flicked on by Andrijasevic at the near post and who squeezed past Pavlidis in goals.
O’Farrell was called into action in the 37th minute, saving well down low following a Ferrante free kick, while at the other end, Pavlidis did well to deny Andrijasevic another goal also saving low from the strikers header.
The Knights should have doubled their lead just before the break, as Jacob Colosimo headed his effort inches over the bar from close range, after receiving a perfectly weighted cross from Andrijasevic.
In the 57th minute, the Knights did double their lead on the back of some good team play. Joshua Brekalo won possession with a crunching tackle to play in Colosimo. The striker had the vision to spot Andrijasevic unmarked on the edge of the area, who laid off for Jason Hicks to coolly slot into the bottom corner with his non-preferred foot.
Pascoe Vale emptied their bench in an effort to get back into the match, with Japanese import Yusie Kitade entering the fray. It almost made an instant impact, as Kitade beat O’Farrell with a low shot, but not Glavan who tracked backed to clear off the line in a timely manner.
Tempers flared following a scuffle between players with the referee brandishing a number of cautions thoughout the second half, which would have a telling impact in the final minutes of the game.
With five minutes of stoppage time, Luca Santilli pulled a goal back with a free-kick in the 91st minute. However the midfielder’s over exuberant celebration in front a Knights player didn’t impress the referee who issued him with a second yellow card, reducing Paco to 10-men.
In the 94th minute, another dangerous Pascoe Vale free kick was delivered into the box, with Carl Recchia putting the ball into the back of the net with a Maradonna-esque hand of god effort. There was no fooling the official however, who quickly cautioned Recchia also with his second yellow card leaving the home side to play out the final moments now with just 9 men.
The Knights sealed the result with the final kick of the match, as Stipo Andrijasevic earned his brace with his second goal of the match.
Speaking to Knights Media post match, Stipo Andrijasevic spoke about the importance of the result, and team role and the upcoming cup match against former side Dandenong City.
“Its a massive win for us, it has been a tough few weeks and to get a result like this against a quality opposition will hopefully turn our season around and string some more wins together.”
“All credit to the boys: we have a quality bunch of players who can play in multiple positions, and for those players like Jurkovic to drop back and play a role for the team at centre back and play magnificently helped us get over the line tonight.”
“There is never an easy game in the FFA Cup and we wont take them lightly, especially playing against a former club is a bit bitter sweet but I’m really looking forward to it”.
The Knights face a crucial FFA Cup tie against Dandenong City on Tuesday night at Knights Stadium. Kick off is at 7:30pm.
In the Under 21’s Melbourne Knights held on to a 2-1 victory despite being down to 10 men for the majority of the second half.
Shots: MK 14 PV 11
Target: MK 7 PV 6
Corners: MK 7 PV 4
Melbourne Knights Squad. 1.Michael O’FARRELL, 6.Damian MISKULIN, 8.James MCGARRY, 9.Jacob COLOSIMO (7.Chris TALAJIC 84’), 10.Marijan CVITKOVIC (12.Anthony DEZIC 72’), 11.Nikola JURKOVIC,16.Jason HICKS, 18.Joshua BREKALO (17.Robbie ZADWORNY 66’), 19.Nick GLAVAN, 21.Stipo ANDRIJASEVIC, 23.Timmy PURCELL.
Not Used: 13.Anthony KATIFORIS, 20.Harry CAKARUN.
Goals: Stipo ANDRIJASEVIC 28’ 96’. Jason HICKS 57’.
Pascoe Vale Squad: 35.Alexander PAVLIDIS, 2.Adrian TALARICO, 4.Adam NAKIC, 7.Luca SAN-TILLI, 8.Joseph YOUSSEF, 10.Davey Vant’SCHIP, 13.Matthew LAZARIDES, 15.Mark PIS-TININZI(12.Matthew CONVERSANO 72’), 17.Aaron TURNER (6.Carl RECCHIA 61’), 21.Michael FERRANTE(22.Yusei KITADE 61’), 23.Peter DENG.
Not Used: 1.Erik PRYCE, 18.Andrew MINNO.
Goals: Luca SANTILLI 91’.
Red Cards: Luca SANTILLI 91’, Carl RECCHIA 94’