A late Ivan Franjic goal earned Melbourne Knights a share of the spoils in Sunday’s NPL Victoria opening Round draw against St Albans at Churchill Reserve.
Knights and Saints traded blows through Ivan Franjic and George Ott in a 1-1 draw in the Croatian Derby on Sunday afternoon.
Franjic marked his Knights return with an 87th minute goal after substitute, Luka Kolic won possession on the top of the box before picking out Franjic for a first time finish at the back post.
Franjic’s goal against one of his former clubs levelled the scores after a former Knight, George Ott handed the home side a first half lead.
The Kiwi forward who swapped Somers Street for Churchill Reserve in the off season bundled home a Brian Summerskill cross at the near post in the 33rd minute to open his account for his new club.
Despite the home side leading at the break it was Knights who enjoyed the lions share of possession and superior chances with Geverao Nepomuceno, Ciaran Bramwell and Franjic forcing Saints keeper Jasko Keranovic into a string of fine saves.
Bramwell again found himself on the end of one of Knights best chances in the second stanza, being denied one-on-one before the visitors eventually found their breakthrough.
Knights were reduced to ten men in second half stoppage time when Steve Whyte was dismissed on debut after receiving his second caution of the contest.
In total nine off-season arrivals played their first competitive minutes of the new campaign in Sunday’s opening day draw.
Next up for Knights is a clash against defending Champions Oakleigh Cannons in their 2023 home opener at Somers Street on Friday night (7:30pm KO).