After a comprehensive round 11 win against Port Melbourne FC, the Knights returned home last week to face off against the leagues trailing side, FC Bulleen Lions. With confidence in tow, the task proved to be more challenging than the Knights would have liked, with the Lions providing a last-minute charge, which saw them try to nab a point in the final seconds of the match.
With gloomy conditions forecasted, the Knights starting 11 remained unchanged from the previous week. Following the departure of Louis Fenton from the club, David Stojic made a return to the bench for the home side in place.
— Melbourne Knights FC (@MelbKnights) May 20, 2018
The Knights wasted no time asserting their dominance over the young travelling side after opening the scoring 3 minutes into the match. Set pieces have become a staple in the Knights arsenal and this time was no different. After winning a free kick, club captain Marijan Cvitkovic delivered a beautifully placed ball to the head of Tomislav Uskok who was then able to expertly place it past Viitakangas, giving the home side an early 1-0 lead.
The lead, however, didn’t last long, when a mere two minutes later, the visitors were awarded a penalty after an Ayden Brice’s tackle bought down a pacey Andrew Mullett who had managed to make a run from the right midfield into the penalty box virtually untouched. Fellow teammate Xavier Nardone stepped up for the spot kick and converted for his side by placing it in the bottom left corner, just out of Jordan Gifkins reach.
The next 15 minutes went by without much fanfare with the Knights advancing towards goals but just lacking the final element of converting plays to goals.
Knights regular Luke Jurcic narrowly avoided a sending off after a mistimed tackle from behind on FC Bulleens Jordan Templin, collecting only a yellow card from veteran referee Bruno D’Aniello despite the cacophony from the Lions.
The Knights were able to find the missing piece in the 25th minute when youth product AJ Inia, who has been enjoying regular minutes of late, cut in from the right wing into the 18-yard box and fired off a low shot, through the bodies in front of him into goal, giving him his first goal in the senior men’s competition and his team a 2-1 lead.
The half ended 2-1 and the Knights walked into the change rooms with enough first half positives to keep their spirits up.
In a similar way, the first half opened with another early Knights goal, this time by the hands of, or rather the feet of Brody Taylor. In the first minute of second half action, Taylor punished a slapdash Lions defense after a shot on goal was parried out by Viitakangas to the feet of Taylor, who proceeded to put it right back past a tired Viitakangas.
Not long after, the Knights came close to scoring their fourth goal of the match when Luke Jurcic fired a shot on goal only to have it unluckily rebounded out by not one but both side posts.
To the dismay of Knights fans in attendance, the Lions were again able to find the back of the net in the 60th minute thanks to Nicholas Voulgaris and some sleepy Knights defending, which created some unnecessary pressure for the home side in the final third of the match.
By the 85th minute, the Knights had used all their substitutions in an effort to keep the legs on the field as fresh as possible to secure the clubs first back to back wins of the season.
The final whistle blew and the Knights were able to hang on to victory, securing the 3 points and a +1 addition to their goal difference, going from -5 to -4. The added points also saw the team jump from 10th place to 8th place by the end of the round. The Knights now sit just outside of the top half of the table, but a win in round 13 could see the side jump up another two spots to 6th place. All that remains is a convincing away win against 9th placed Dandenong Thunder SC this Saturday night.
Round 13 action arrives this Saturday as the Knights begin a three week away circuit which will see them first travel to distance to the furthest club in the competition, Dandenong Thunder SC.