Melbourne Knights extended their unbeaten run to eleven matches in all competitions after overturning a two-goal half time deficit to draw 2-2 with Oakleigh Cannons at Jack Edwards Reserve on Friday night.
Goals from Corey Sewell and Mohammad Sumaoro sealed the fightback after first half Anton Mlinaric and Alex Salmon efforts had the defending Champions in front at the break in Friday’s NPL Victoria Round 15 clash.
Mlinaric put the home side ahead in the 21st minute, finding the back of the net with a first-time finish from the edge of the six-yard area after Emlyn Wellsmore nodded a Joe Guest corner into his path.
Salmon added a second for Chris Taylor’s side in the 42nd minute when he headed home a Joe Guest cross after the Cannons forced a turnover high up the pitch.
Knights best opportunity of the opening half came through Ciaran Bramwell, who fired a first time effort inches wide of the upright at the near post on the end of a Gevaro Nepomuceno corner.
Down but not out at the break, Ben Cahn’s side came out firing in the second stanza and were rewarded in the 53rd minute when Sewell hammered home a volley from the top of the box after the Oakleigh defence failed to deal with Mitch Hore’s initial cross.
From that point on Knights grabbed hold of the momentum and found an equaliser in the 76th when Sumaoro headed a Gian Albano cross into the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar on the end of a sweeping move from the visitors.
Knights came oh-so-close to a grabbing a winner in the 84th minute when Albano combined brilliantly with Bramwell and Luka Kolic to get in behind the Cannons defence with some slick interplay only to be denied one-on-one by a brilliant Lachlan Hart save.
In the end the sides were forced to settle for a share of the spoils in a result that leaves Knights in fourth position on the NPL Victoria ladder with 31 points after 15 rounds of action.
Friday’s 2-2 draw stretches Knights club record NPL Victoria unbeaten run to eight matches.
Speaking post-match Melbourne Knights Head Coach, Ben Cahn said he was proud of the resilience shown by his side to battle their way back from the two-goal deficit.
“Given the half time score, it’s a strong result against a very strong team,” Cahn said.
“The game followed a similar pattern to the first time we played them. We didn’t start well, they were very good first half and then we had almost full control in the second half and should have gone on and won it.
“I’m very proud of the character and belief the players showed to get a point.
“We’re unbeaten in 11 games, we’ll recover well, prepare well and give everything against South Melbourne next week.”
Knights Round 16 blockbuster against South Melbourne in the Original Melbourne Derby kicks off at 7:30pm at Somers Street next Friday night.
NPL Victoria 2023 – Round 15: Oakleigh Cannons v Melbourne Knights
Jack Edwards Reserve, Oakleigh
Friday, 26 May (8:30pm KO)
Oakleigh Cannons – 2 (Anton MLINARIC 21’, Alex SALMON 42’)
Melbourne Knights – 2 (Corey SEWELL 53’, Mohammad SUMAORO 76’)