After some heavy rain and lashing winds were forecasted for Fridays match, a potential wash out seemed likely, however, game day arrived and by the mid-afternoon the rain dried up leaving conditions frosty with humidity levels at around 80%, with winds of around 40km/hr. Conditions aside, it was a hugely successful night on the park for the Knights as the reserves and the first team both secured important wins away from home.
The U20s match saw the young squad lead 2-1 at half time. The second half saw the Knights put one more goal past the Sharks to end the match 3-1, giving them the full 3 points, and leap frogging from 11th place to 6th on the ladder.
— Melbourne Knights FC (@MelbKnights) May 11, 2018
Coming off the back of an impressive performance in round 10 against league leaders Avondale FC, which saw the Knights come away with a draw; the reds travelled to the bayside club looking for nothing short of a win.
The opening minutes saw a composed Knights outfit dominate possession over their opponents. Nate Foster looked to be in with an early chance in the 6th minute after receiving a well-placed pass from teammate Timmy Purcell, finding his way into space in the 18 yard box and firing off a shot, only for it to sail well over the cross bar.
Foster would later be rewarded for his attacking efforts on goal, winning a penalty for the Knights in the 10th minute after having his run in the penalty box stopped short by the home sides Amadu Koroma. Stepping up for the spot kick was favourite son, Tomislav Uskok, who converted the shot by placing it firmly in the bottom left hand corner and out of reach of Sharks keeper Matthew Symes.
The first citation of the match went to Knights defender Ayden Brice who now sits on an league-accumulated two yellow cards, after Sam Smith fell to the ground as both players made a strong contest for the ball, winning a free kick in a dangerous area for his side. The set piece ultimately was not a threat, as the ball went unmet, travelling past the thicket of players in the box and out of play. Not long after, the Knights received yet another yellow card, this time falling to Anthony Dezic, who sits on 3 a total of three yellow cards.
Making another strong appearance in goals, Knights keeper Jordan Gifkins made a number of early saves to keep the home side from equalising, one of which saw him make a bold jump in the 19th minute to parry the shot out of the top right hand corner of the goals.
Speaking on his selection, Gifkins had this to say:
”It feels good to be playing, I’ve had to wait for my chance through the start of the season. It has given me an opportunity to prove myself in these middle stages and thankfully it’s gone pretty well so far.”
Danger reared its ugly head half way through when the Sharks looked certain to equalise, impeded only by a quick thinking Luke Jurcic, who kept the ball from slipping past Gifkins into goal. The ball then fell to Shaun Timmins who mistimed his interception and saw the ball slip past his feet and collected by the Sharks. After another chance on goal, the ball was again swiftly dealt with by Jurcic who kicked it out for a corner, which eventuated into nothing threatening for the home side.
The half could have just as easily ended with the Knights sitting on one or two extra goals had they converted their chances, however, the half time whistle blew and ended one-nil to the visitors, leaving the Knights with plenty of positives to ponder going into the break.
Sitting on a 1-0 score line, the Knights came out swinging, and needed to add to their goal bank. The second half started with the home side seeking their elusive equaliser, and they almost found it in the 55th minute, but were denied by the body of Uskok. A corner ensued, which saw Gifkins make yet another do or die save to deny the home side.
Foster, who was on song for the entire match and instrumental in a number of close chances for the Knights was finally rewarded for his efforts with a goal of his own in the 73rd minute. After a neat pass from captain Marijan Cvitkovic to Shaun Timmins who’s own shot on goal was blocked by Symes, the ball fell kindly to the feet of Foster who was in the right place at the right time to tap the ball into the back of the net.
The match ended in favour of the visitors with a two-nil result after a comprehensive performance from the Knights away from home. Importantly, the result was also the first clean sheet kept by the Knights.
Speaking on his contribution to this, Gifkins had this to say:
“Some games we’ve been unlucky not to keep a clean sheet. Personally, I am happy I was able to contribute to breaking that duck but a lot of credit should go to the 10 guys in front of me who defended really well. On a night where conditions were tough, we showed a lot of discipline and it held us in good stead.”
For the Knights, the important win signifies a shift in performances for the squad. As the roster inches closer to full fitness with a number of sidelined players returning from injury in the coming weeks, the Knights have ample positives to look forward too. The well-deserved result sees the Knights move up one place to 9th position.
Next week sees the Knights return home to face bottom placed FC Bulleen Lions, who have only won one match this season.
We remind all Knights fans that our senior home games for the remainder of the season will be played on Sundays, with kick-off at 3pm; with the U20s men’s squad playing their home games directly prior at 1pm.