Last Friday nights conditions were ripe for an epic mid-table showdown as the original Melbourne Derby took place at Somers St, with Melbourne Knights hosting long-time rivals South Melbourne. With a few key selection exclusions, and a rampant Knights side looking for redemption after a few solemn results, the home side put on a magnificent display for all in attendance; producing a hard-earned win for the fans.
— Melbourne Knights FC (@MelbKnights) April 6, 2018
The early minutes proved just how even both sides were coming into the match with a fairly even contest taking place. Both sides had chances on goal but the best chance came for the home side in the 5th minute when Brody Taylor’s misfired shot on goal set up a high ball which met the head of a leaping Nate Foster but was ultimately kept out of goal by South Melbourne’s keeper Keegan Coulter.
The following ten minutes of regular time went by much the same with both sides sharing fairly equal possession, however, in the 18th minute, a yellow card picked up by Uskok in the midfield awarded South Melbourne with a free kick, followed swiftly by another challenge on South Melbourne captain Brad Norton, awarding the visitors a dangerous free kick from 25 yards out. Norton whipping a high ball into the 18-yard box which ultimately fell to South defender Jake Marshall who tapped it toward goal, giving the visitors a one-goal lead.
Continuing his recent fine form; Knights ‘keeper Harry Cakarun made multiple important saves throughout the match. In the 31st minute, South Melbourne were primed to extend their score line when a loose ball in the box wasn’t cleared and found its way to South’s Christos Intzidis who fired the ball toward goal but was met by a full-stretch Cakarun to deny the visitors. A series repeated saves to follow saw the young keeper have one of his best matches to date.
The important equalising goal came just before half time from a well-constructed corner set piece which saw Cvitkovic whip the ball squarely between the posts to Nikola Jurkovic who got a good look at the oncoming ball and buried it into the net with an iconic angled header.
With everything to play for, Knights continued to press and were rewarded soon after with a second goal. As Cvitkovic charged his way up the park, his heels were clipped by an advancing Kristian Konstantinidis, awarding the Knights midfielder with a free kick 35 yards from goal. With another set piece on their hands, the Knights were able to capitalise on Duzel’s well-placed free kick directly into the centre of the 18-yard box. It didn’t take much for an unmarked Uskok get up and put it behind Coulter and give the home fans something to cheer about. The goal concluded the first half, giving the home side the advantage before heading in for the break.
With the second half underway, the home side was well aware of the danger of a two-one score line. Duzel again impressed in the 50th minute with another well placed set piece cross into the top corner of the six-yard box, which saw Coulter leave his goal to deal with the ball, only for it to slip his grasp and almost cross the goal-line, if not for quick-thinking SMFC captain Brad Norton who ushered the ball out of play, awarding the home side with a corner. The set piece, taken by Cvitkovic was delivered to Uskok who was able to beat an outstretched Coulter to give the home side a three-one lead early in the second half.
The final goal in the match fell for the visitors in the 65th minute when Nikola Jurkovic and Milos Lujic both went down in South Melbourne’s penalty box, with Jurkovic ultimately being penalised by referee Jonathan Barreiro for contact on Lujic, who then awarded the visitors with a penalty that was converted to a goal by Lujic.
The remainder of the match saw South Melbourne attempt to leave Somers St with a point, but a determined Knights squad proved to be too fickle, with the match ending three-two in favour of the Knights who subsequently jumped up two spots on the ladder to 6th. The Knights, hopeful that this win will reignite their turn-around season, go into next week’s match against Heidelberg United with a touch more momentum after a very satisfying win at home.
Round 7 sees the Knights hit the road again, this time travelling to Olympic Village to face off against 3rd placed Heidelberg United FC. The match is scheduled to kick of at 5:00pm on Saturday the 14th of April.