A brave Melbourne Knights performance wasn’t enough to take any points in a hotly contested derby as South Melbourne emerged 2-1 winners at Lakeside Stadium on Saturday.
The Knights went ahead in the 14th minute with a superbly taken goal by midfielder Ben Surey. Adrian Zahra dribbled in from the left before forcing a save out of Nikola Roganovic, only for the ball to fall to Surey who arrived at the perfect time to direct a brilliant strike past several defenders and into the top corner.
The hosts equalised deep into first half stoppage time as Iqbal Jawadi went down in the box and was awarded a penalty. Milos Lujic stepped up to convert the spot kick in what proved to be the final on-field act of the half, before a small scuffle broke out between the players as they left the pitch.
Andy Brennan then scored the winner ten minutes into the second half after he was played through and found himself one-on-one with Chris May. The attacker kept his cool to find the back of the net and the Knights couldn’t find an equaliser of their own despite their best efforts.
It was a match with no shortage of chances and robust challenges for both sides. Andrew Barisic came close to getting on the end of Stipo Andrijasevic’s back post cross five minutes in, with the defender doing just enough to keep the Knights’ top scorer from providing the telling touch.
David Stirton then forced a save off May, finding power in the shot but not the direction as the goalkeeper was able to stand and parry.
South responded well to going behind and Lujic went close to scoring on a number of occasions but was unable to finish off some fizzed in deliveries from Brennan, who was rampant down the right wing.
Barisic nearly made it 2-0 five minutes before the break, as his volley flew just wide of the upright.
After going behind 2-1, May made an unbelievable double save to keep his side in it, showing super reflexes to deny first Lujic then Stirton.
From there the Knights pushed hard for an equaliser, and almost had it with 15 minutes to go as Roganovic pulled off a diving save to keep out Barisic.
The South goalkeeper was again called into action to thwart free kick efforts from Andrijasevic and Alex Dao, while substitute Chris Talajic’s effort was deflected just wide.
The Knights will look to bounce back with an FFA Cup fixture on Tuesday before hosting Green Gully on Friday night.