In its quest to avoid relegation, the Melbourne Knights have earned a valuable point in a come from behind 1-1 draw away to Kingston City on Monday night.
It was a game of two contrasting halves going from a poor first half showing, with the Knights lucky not to be down by multiple goals, to a much improved second half where the side will feel disappointed not to have taken all 3 points.
Coach Eric Vassiliadis made a number of changes to the starting 11 with new signings Nick Apostolopoulos and Mehdi Martin slotting straight into the defence. There was also the return of Jason Hicks to the midfield after serving a two match suspension, and the return of Kym Harris from injury.
The match got off to a bad start for the visitors with Knights keeper Fraser Chalmers mistiming a clearance and sending the ball straight to the feet of Stelios Konstantinidis. The Knights keeper forced to recover quickly with a save to instantly deny the Kingston forward.
Chalmers continued his heroics with two further stunning saves in the opening ten minutes, keeping a rampant Kingston at bay.
However Kingston would be rewarded for their early dominance by taking the lead on the 17th minute in spectacular fashion as Faisal Sakhizada connected on the half volley to smash the ball out of the reach of an outstretched Chalmers.
A late chance in the half for the home side should have seen them double the lead with Sakhizada’s point blank header tipped over the crossbar by Chalmers.
The Knights came out firing in the second half, equalising barely a minute in. A cross from a Knights corner was brought down by a Milan Batur header, falling perfectly for Tom Cahill who tapped the ball home for his 7th goal of the season.
At the other end Kingston pushed to regain the lead, first on the 65th minute when once again Kingston was denied by Chalmers, this time with a double save from the Knights custodian. Then on the 76th minute with a long range effort from Velibor Mitrovic sailing just millimetres over the crossbar.
Late in the match the Knights came agonisingly close to capturing the win. Cahill had a great opportunity after being on the receiving end of a defence splitting through ball, before unleashing a shot that was just parried away by a diving save from Kennedy.
In injury time a last gasp effort for the Knights came via an Elvis Kamsoba cross which was met by a diving header from Martin at the far post, sending the ball wide of the mark.
Though still sitting in the relegation zone the much needed point sees the Knights keep in touching distance of the teams just above them in the relegation battle.
This Friday night the Knights will be back at home in yet another crucial clash, taking on the Bulleen Lions at Knights Stadium. Kick-off is at 8:30pm.
Melbourne Knights: 1.Fraser CHALMERS, 2.Luke JURCIC, 4. Ben SUREY, 5.Nick APOSTOLOPOULOS, 6.Milan BATUR, 9.Kym HARRIS (8.Kamal IBRAHIM 56?), 13.Tom CAHILL, 16.Jason HICKS , 17.Mehdi MARTIN (5.Damien MISKULIN 58?), 19.Anthony DUZEL (10.Marijan CVITKOVIC 75′), 27.Elvis KAMSOBA.
Not Used: 12.Anthony DEZIC, 20.Gabriel MATTI, 23.Timmy PURCELL.
Goals: Tom CAHILL 46′
Kingston City: 1.Kile KENNEDY, 3.Hamish MILLAR, 4.Simo JOVANOVIC, 5.Faisal SAKHIZADA, 6.Nathan TIDMARSH, 7.Chris IRWIN, 10.Velibor MITROVIC, 11.Stelios KONSTANTINIDIS, 12.Muad ZWED, 14.Damian IACONIS, 16.Nicholas STAMATIOU.
Goals: Faisal SAKHIZADA 17′