Melbourne Knights are one win away from qualifying for the national stage of the Westfield FFA Cup following a comfortable 3-1 victory over NPL 2 side Dandenong City in round 6 of the Cup on a freezing Tuesday night.
All 3 goals for the Knights came in a dominant first half performance. While Dandenong City put up a brave fight in the Croatian derby, the Knights never looked like losing the game.
The first 10 minutes of the match saw an uneventful opening, with neither side being able to gain the ascendancy in the chilly conditions.
It was Jacob Colosimo who would have the first genuine opportunity of the night 12 minutes in after being on the receiving end of a Marijan Cvitkovic through ball. Colosimo shook off his man and forced a great save from the Dandenong custodian Damir Salcin. The follow-up shot from Joshua Brekalo went well wide of the mark.
At the other end, barely a minute later, Dandenong had their first chance due to a defensive error. However the visitors could not capitalise on it as Michael O’Farrell parried the ball away from danger.
Brekalo opened the scoring for the Knights on the 19th minute after being set up by a sublime ball from Colosimo. Brekalo had little trouble slotting the ball past Salcin from close range.
Within 90 seconds Marijan Cvitkovic doubled the lead for the Knights with his shot from the edge of the box hitting the back of the net.
Late in the half Dandenong had its best spell of the opening period, with Mate Eterovic coming closest for the visitors through his long range effort that was kept out with a stunning diving save from O’Farrell.
A minute from half time saw the Knights make it 3-0. A cheeky chip over the top of the Dandenong defence from McGarry found an unmarked Colosimo who headed the ball home with ease.
The second half proved to be a much more subdued 45 minutes as the Knights for the most part looked comfortable holding onto their lead, rarely having its defence troubled by Dandenong.
A few good chances fell to the Knights in the early stages of the half with both Andrijasevic and Cvitkovic coming close to extending the lead.
Colosimo also came agonisingly close to having a brace on the 69th minute. But it was not to be as a charging Salcin was able to get his feet in the way of the shot from the incoming striker.
Dandenong had some good possession as the match drew to a close and the visitors would be rewarded with a consolation goal in injury time through a spectacular tight angle effort from former Knights player Dario Matkovic.
Jason Hicks spoke to Knights Media after the match about the result and his hopes for the Cup going forward.
“Getting the three goals early was good, it helped us relax a little bit. We were put under pressure for the first 10 to 15 minutes, a credit to them for pressing us. It definitely helped us getting the early goals.”
“Coming to Melbourne Knights, it was clear we wanted to make it as far as possible in the FFA Cup. After tonight we are one step closer. And I think on our day with everyone performing, we will be able to compete with any of the A-League sides.”
With the win the Knights will now enter round 7 as only 8 teams remain in the Victorian stage of the FFA Cup. The Knights will learn who stands in the way of qualification when Round 7 is drawn on Monday 30th May.
League action resumes on Saturday when the Knights travel to Green Gully Reserve to take on Green Gully, kick off at 3pm.
Melbourne Knights Squad: 1.O’Farrell, 6.Miskulin, 5.Batur, 8.McGarry (11.Jurkovic 67′), 9.Colosimo, 10.Cvitkovic, (12.Dezic 78′) 16.Hicks, 18.Brekalo, 19.Glavan (17.Zadworny 63′), 21.Andrijasevic, 23,Purcell
Not Used: 3.Grgic, 20.Cakarun
Goals: Brekalo 20′, Cvitkovic 21′, Colosimo 44’
Dandenong City Squad: 1.Salcin, 3.Gur, 4.Burgess, 5.Eterovic (17.Moravic 73′), 6.Carroll, 7.Ziada (14.Antoniadis), 9.Cattermole, 10.Freddi, 11.Jerez, 12.Filipovic, 18.Cassar (8.Matkovic 56′)
Not Used: 20.Filiz, 21.Pignata
Goals: Matkovic 90+1′
Yellow Cards: 4.Burgess 24′, 3.Gur 76′