A second half strike from returning striker Jacob Colosimo earned the Knights a point in their Round One clash against the much-fancied Green Gully on Friday night at Knights Stadium.
The Knights went into the game missing several first team players as Ben Surey, Robbie Zadworny, Joshua Brekalo, Chris Talajic and Fraser Chalmers missed though injury and were joined by the suspended James McGarry.
Andrew Marth gave starting debuts to new boys Stefan Cali, Nick Glavan, Timmy Purcell, while Jason Hicks and Niki Jurkovic were tasked with controlling the midfield.
A near-full strength Gully side began the match on the front foot, with the first major threat coming from a marauding run into the box by Liam Boland which required a last ditch block from new captain Milan Batur.
That early warning sign wasn’t heeded by the Knights, as the visitors capitalised on their early dominance. Former Brisbane Roar player George Lambadaridis’ shot from outside the box evaded a despairing O’Farrell in goals giving the Gully a 1-0 lead eight minutes in.
Seemingly content with their early lead the visitors dropped deeper, allowing the Knights to fashion opportunities for an equalizer. In the 21st minute Marijan Cvitkovic dispossessed a Gully defender, but opted to square the ball to Andrijasevic who subsequently had his shot blocked. Just six minutes later, new signing Timmy Purcell picked out Andrijasevic with a cross, however last seasons’ top goal scorer couldn’t direct his header on target.
Andrew Marth was forced into an early substitution as Marijan Cvitkovic succumbed to injury and was replaced by youngster Caleb Mikulic. The disruption didn’t affect Knights’ best spell of the game thus far, as Jason Hicks’ free-kick forced a good save from Rani Dowisha. Moments later, another cross from Hicks was met by a Knights head, then only to be cleared off the line.
Sensing a one-goal lead wouldn’t be enough, Green Gully again switched mentality and were twice denied by the post prior to half-time. Nicholas Krousoratis cut in from the left wing and drove a powerful shot onto the woodwork, and repeating his effort just a minute later this time cutting in from the right and being denied by the post again.
Rodrigo Vargas thought he had doubled his side advantage just two minutes into the second half, but his exuberant celebrations were cut short as the referee saw an infringement in the lead up.
Matthew Reid then spurned another good chance for the visitors after finding himself unmarked in the 18yard box, but hitting his first time volley over the bar.
In the 63rd minute the Knights capitalised on a poor half clearance from a corner with Jacob Colosimo driving a powerful strike though a sea of players and sending the Knights’ faithful into raptures.
With the game up for the taking again tensions began to flair with the referee booking a total of seven players. Matthew Breeze also landed awkwardly and was forced off with what looked like a potentially serious knee injury.
The best change for a winner came in the 88th minute as Green Gully’s Kousoratis spotted O’Farrell off his line and tried an audacious chip from just inside the half that just missed the target.
Ultimately it was a hard-earned point for the Knights’ who can take positives out of the game, which saw many young players, be able to match it with their much more experienced opponents.
Speaking to Knights Media after the game, goal scorer Jacob Colosimo described his goal and how it feels to be wearing the red of the Knights again.
“It’s great, I love it here and the club, the fans are just incredible,” said Colosimo.
“The ball came in and I just reacted quickest, as soon as the ball fell I tried to hit it as hard I could and thankfully it went in”.
“Our work rate was brilliant, and the boys showed great character to get back into the game, we will only get better from here”.
Attention now turns to a tough away fixture against Heidelberg United on Sunday at Olympic Village.
In the Under 21’s the Melbourne Knights fought back from 0-3 down to earn a 4-4 draw in a pulsating curtain raiser.
SHOTS: MK: 7 GG: 12
TARGET: MK: 3 GG: 5
CORNERS: MK 3: GG: 2
Melbourne Knights Squad: 1.O’Farrell, 3.Grgic, 5.Batur, 6.Cali, 9.Colosimo, 10.Cvitkovic (14.Mikulic 28’) 11.Jurkovic (12.Dezic 86’), 16.Hicks, 19.Glavan, 17.Purcell (2.Jurcic 68’), 21.Andrijasevic.
Not Used: 20.Cakarun, 13.Kataforis
Goals: Colosimo 63’.
Cautions: Jurkovic, Andrijasevic, Glavan.
Green Gully Squad: 23.Dowisha, 2.Reid, 3.Iwasaki (15.James 71’), 4.Jones, 5.Vargas, 8.Lambradaridis, 10.Breeze (9.Ragusa 58’), 11.Christodoulou (19.Walker 64’), 12.Krousoratis, 17.Blumgart, 38.Boland.
Not Used: 1.Mattei, 7.Murphy.
Goals: Lambradaridis 8’.
Cautions: Reid, Krousoratis, Jones, Christodoulou.