Hearts were in throats for the majority of the second-half on Friday night as the Knights pulled off an unbelievable last-ditch victory against the Oakleigh Cannons in the dying minutes of the match. Nate Foster proving to be the cherry on top of a great team performance, with his goal hitting the back of the net just seconds prior to the final whistle being blown, giving the travelling Knights fans something to cheer about for days to come.
With the mid-season transfer window open, the Knights playing roster has undergone some minor shuffling in the last two weeks; with new additions Andelo Svalina and Teeboy Kamara making their first appearances for the side.
— Melbourne Knights FC (@MelbKnights) June 1, 2018
Having claimed victory over the Cannons back in round one with a score line of 3-2, the Knights were primed for a repeat as they travelled to Jack Edwards Reserve. As the sun set, the calm yet chilly conditions fell upon Melbourne, as Knights fans came out in numbers, cladded in red and white checkered beanies and all.
The opening minutes saw a lively start to the match from both sides, as each team looked to get an early advantage. Knights keeper Jordan Gifkins was called to duty early on, as Oakleigh rounded for an attack, twice denying the home side an opportunity on goal with spectacular diving saves.
Newcomer Andelo Svalina, starting in the midfield for the first time for the Knights, displayed his talent as he set up a number of early pieces of attacking play with some well-timed passes into the final third. The Knight’s best chance on goal at this point came from a free-kick taken by Svalina. The perfectly struck shot was inching towards the bottom left hand corner of the goal and was only kept out at the last minute by a diving John Honos, giving the home side an early reprieve.
The safety didn’t last long for Oakleigh however. Teeboy Kamara, to the pleasure of Knights fans, also proved to be a handful for the Cannons. In his first appearance for the club, Kamara was influential in setting up Knights 32nd minute goal. Kamara was able to collect a loose ball from a cross into the box and set it up perfectly for Marijan Cvitkovic, who was unmarked and waiting for the pass. Unopposed, Cvitkovic was able to slot it in past Honos, giving the Knights the first goal of the match.
The first half ended with a 0-1 scoreline, in favour of the Knights. Little did the supporters in attendance know that the second half would be one not to be missed.
The Cannons were able to immediately equalise after walking out onto the pitch after half time, thanks to a strike from Ryan Paczkowski. With the knights’ first half advantage snuffed out and scores level, the match opened up as both sides took to task.
To Knights fans dismay, the Cannons were soon able to go 2-1 up after a deflected free kick taken by Kosta Stratomitros was able to find its way past Gifkins. Not two minutes later, the Knights quickly countered with a goal of their own thanks to a solid cross into the box that was pinballed around, ultimately falling to Anthony Dezic; who ambitiously attempted a reverse overhead lob, which tucked behind Honos for the equalising goal.
The rollercoaster continued as Oakleigh’s Ryan Paczkowski doubled his goal tally for the night, putting the Knights again onto the back foot for the second time in the second half.
The Cannons, looking to further capitalise reared up for a series of attacks on goal, which went begging for the home side. The 3-2 score line levelled out for the visiting side thanks in part to a handball in the box at Oakleigh’s expense. Spot kick awarded, Andelo Svalina stepped up for his new side to deliver a composed shot on goal into the bottom right corner despite dissatisfied jeers from the home fans.
With regulation time over and scores still locked at 3-3, the Knights had only four minutes of extra time to score the winning goal, keeping fans on the edge of their seats. In what could only be described as a buzzer beater, the deadlock was epically broken thanks to true team effort, with 20 one-touch passes stringing together for the Knights before finding Nate Foster directly in front of goal, who was able to get the final touch into the back of the net.
In an extremely impressive outing for the Knights, the squad, including newcomers Kamara and Svalina, put on a season-changing performance – in the first game of the second half of the season. The three points taken means the Knights move up one place on the ladder to 8th.
With the final match in the current away circuit to be played again Pascoe Vale FC this coming Friday, a potential further three points on the road could see the side move up to 6th by the end of round 15, setting themselves up nicely for a return home showdown against Northcote City FC, who are currently in 11th place on the ladder.