A busy week came to a close for Melbourne Knights with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Port Melbourne at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
A late Chris Duggan strike saw the Sharks snatch all three points late on as NPL Victoria Round 18 action handed Knights their third defeat of 2023.
An arm wrestle of a first half yielded few opportunities for either side with Knights coming closest through a Mitch Hore shot from the top of the box that whistled past the post, while Port produced their best chance of the opening stanza via a goalmouth scramble on the end of a Dan Edwards corner kick.
Chris Oldfield’s 250th top-flight appearance in Victorian football was marred by injury with the shot-stopper forced off at half time after picking up a knock in the opening stanza.
The injury did afford the opportunity for Jakeb Wiseman, who joined Knights from NPL Capital Football outfit O’Connor Knights to make his competitive debut between the sticks at Somers Street.
Perhaps Knights best opening of the second period came in the 51st minute when an Anthony Duzel free-kick fell to Corey Sewell at the back post, before the fullback dragged his half-volley wide of the target under heavy pressure from the Sharks defence.
With the match looking destined for a draw substitute, Chris Duggan popped up to acrobatically volley home a Luca Tevere cross at the back post and snatch victory for the visitors.
An Ivan Franjic free-kick from 20 yards provided the home side’s best chance to find a late equaliser in stoppage time, however the Knights skipper was unable to direct his effort on target.
Friday’s match brings an end to a busy seven days for the Knights which also saw them secure a 1-0 win on the road against Bentleigh and qualify for the Australia Cup Round of 32 with 3-1 midweek win over Yarraville Glory.
Knights remain in fourth position with a four-point buffer over fifth placed Port Melbourne following Friday’s match as Ben Cahn’s side continue in their pursuit of a first NPL Victoria finals appearance since 2015.
Speaking post-match Cahn said his side were disappointed not to take more from Friday’s match at Knights Stadium.
“Of course we’re very disappointed with the result,” Cahn said.
“Both teams really cancelled each other out, both set up well out of possession so it was difficult for either to create much.
“In the end fatigue form the cup game got the better of us and missing Luka (Kolic) and Gevaro (Nepomuceno) hurt us in terms of depth and our ability to change the game when we needed to.
“We’ll bounce back, we’ve got a little break to recover well, we’ll bring a couple of players in in the window to make sure we’ve got the depth to compete on all fronts.”
Next up for Knights is a trip to Paisley Park next Saturday to face Altona Magic in Round 19 action (6:15pm KO).
Magic currently sit seventh on the NPL Victoria ladder and suffered a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Green Gully on Friday night.
NPL Victoria 2023 – Round 18: Melbourne Knights v Port Melbourne Sharks
Knights Stadium, Sunshine North
Friday, 16 June
Melbourne Knights – 0
Port Melbourne Sharks – 1 (Chris DUGGAN 87’)