The Melbourne Knights have prevailed against Hellas, winning 2-1 in a last-minute thriller at Somers Street.
Starting XI: Thomas Manos (GK), Trevor Ssemakula, Jack Marth, Ayden Brice (C), Jack Morton, Thiery Iradukunda, Luka Kolic, Anthony Duzel, Gian Albano, Luka Celic, Mohamed Sumaoro
Substitutes: Harry Cakarun (GK), Fuki Ishibashi, Joseph Colina, Andy Robertson, Steve Sokol
The match started in impeccable style for the Knights. Within the opening 10 minutes of the match, the home side was able to take the lead through a Mohamad Sumaoro diving header which fantastically found the back of the net.
Despite Hellas holding most of the ball, they were yet to equalise as the first half progressed. Perhaps frustration began to break through to the players as Brice was cautioned, just after the half hour mark.
After 45 minutes, the Knights not only had the lead, but they had their opponents irritated. A gnarly second half was in store at Knights Stadium, as a big three points was on the table.
With a little over 20 minutes to play, South Melbourne had utilised all their substitutions, favouring attacking players, hoping to make it to the final whistle with some points. Alternatively, Bebic appeared confident with his starting 11 and the strategy at play.
With 15 minutes to go, Bebic finally looked to his bench in order to keep up with Hellas, who were perniciously attacking the goal and looked destined for an equaliser. Defensively minded Ishibashi came on for Kolic, while Sokol replaced the goal scorer – Sumaoro – up front.
In the 86th minute, Knights fans were in shock asHellas had their eventual equaliser so close to the end as Max Mikkola brought Hellas level as we edged closer to the final whistle. The clock remained ticking and the three points were still up for grabs – for either team.
After 90 minutes, referrer Lachlan Keevers decided on an additional four added minutes. As the match enclosed on the 94th minute, it appeared that the teams would have to share the spoils. Until the unimaginable happened.
As the clock ticked into the 95th minute, Gian Albano regained possession in his own half, dribbling with haste into an exposed Hellas defence. He made his way toward the edge of the box, stepped inside to beat two Hellenians – leaving South Melbourne in the dust. With Javier Lopez off his line, Albano’s strike found the top corner, sending the home fans into raptures!
Just as it looked as if Hellas had stolen three points from the Knights, Albano stood up and stole them right back with essentially the final kick of the game. Gifting the Knights an important three points, yet again! In doing so, the Knights handed Hellas their third loss of the season, which could cost them the top of the league at the round’s end.
With most of the competition still to play in Round 16, the Knights have risen into eighth, only one point from the top six!
The Knights next face off against fellow NPL side Oakleigh Cannons in round seven of the Australia Cup this Tuesday night. Don’t miss your chance to see the Knights advance to the round of 32 of the Australia Cup! Come on down, this Tuesday night to Somers Street and cheer on the red, white and blue!
– Tom Hayes