James McGarry netted a brace as the Melbourne Knights ran out 2-0 winners against the Richmond Eagles in a physically charged match at Knights stadium on Sunday.
Damian Miskulin returned to the starting XI after serving a suspension, with Andrew Marth’s men keen on maximum points to keep the pressure on the top 6.
Jason Hicks was the first to draw a save from Fogia in the visitors’ goal, with his free-kick from a tight angle well dealt with.
Richmond big-man Nick Naigioran was the obvious threat to the home side, and the striker was guilty of wasting a golden opportunity to open the scoring early on, beating Chalmers to a cross but poking his effort just wide of an empty net.
Naigioran was in the thick of it again midway through the opening half, latching onto a neat through ball with only Chalmers to beat, however the Knights custodian continued his purple patch of form saving well before Caniglia skied the rebounding ball.
Immediately up the other end, and the Knights had a golden opportunity themselves. Andrijasevic’s nod-down fell sublimely for Zadworny with only the keeper to beat, but another excellent save from Fogia kept the scores deadlocked.
The home side looked more ominous as the contest continued, with Andrijasevic driving his effort from the edge of the area just over the crossbar.
In the 37th minute the Knights finally broke the deadlock. Zadworny’s cross found its way to the goal bound McGarry who controlled well with his chest before coolly slotting past Fogia to give his side the lead.
It could have been more before the break as McGarry picked out Cvitkovic who rattled the crossbar, before Hicks rolled his effort agonisingly past the goal mouth.
The contest was a physical one, with a number of fouls stopping the flow of the game despite nothing to malicious. However that all changed just a minute before the break as a tackle on Jurkovic instigated a large scuffle between the players. The official dismissed Bryan Bran and Marijan Cvitkovic for their role in the fracas.
A subdued second half eventuated, with perhaps both teams tiring due to being a man down. Richmond had an early notable chance with Roorda driving his low shot wide of Chalmers’ goal.
The Knights continued the more likely to score again, and should have double their lead just shy of the hour mark as Hicks scooped his effort form close range over the bar.
Alex Caniglia took it upon himself to drag his side back into the contest, with a darting run through the heart of the home defence but lacked any real potency in his strike to worry Chalmers.
Nerves were put to rest seven minutes from time, as McGarry was again on the end of a cross, this time from Hicks, to finish from close range to secure the points for Andrew Marth’s men.
Substitute Jacob Colosimo almost got on the scoresheet late on, however his one-one-one effort was thwarted by Fogia.
The win sees the Knights keep ground with the Top six, with a crucial fixture away to Hume City next Saturday a pivotal one for finals hopes.
Speaking to Knights Media post match, Nikola Jurkovic described the importance of the win, the physical contest and the teams prospects in the league and FFA Cup.
“Its a relief to get the result in the end, the win closes the gap on the top six, and also distances ourselves from the relegation scrap. We were attacking for most of the match and we just have to put our chances away, but 2-0 we cant be too disappointed with that”.
“Its part of the game (physicality), everyone shows their heart and commitment for the team, I tend to enjoy a bit of it”.
“We made it our objection to make the FFA Cup, but also to make finals. I believe we are good enough, and anything can happen in the finals”
“Obviously getting the home-tie is a big advantage and not having to travel. We haven’t done much research on Cockburn yet, but we’ll be aiming on getting the win and thats the main thing.”
The Knights are back on the road for a crucial contest against Hume City on Saturday Night. Kick off is scheduled for 7:00pm.
Shots: MK 12 RC 12
Target: MK 8 RC 2
Corners: MK 2 RC 3
Melbourne Knights Squad. 20.Fraser CHALMERS, 3.Ivan GRGIC (15.Julies DAVIES 46’), 6.Damian MISKULIN, 8.James MCGARRY, 10.Marijan CVITKOVIC, 11.Nikola JURKOVIC, 16.Jason HICKS, 17.Robbie ZADWORNY (2.Luke JURCIC 71’), 19.Nick GLAVAN, 21.Stipo ANDRIJASEVIC (9.Jacob COLOSIMO 84’), 23.Timmy PURCELL.
Not Used:. 1.Michael O’FARRELL, 12.Anthony DEZIC.
Goals: James MCGARRY 37’, 83’.
Red Cards. Marijan CVITKOVIC 44’.
Richmond SC Squad. 20.Tony FOGIA, 2.Javier YURDAKUL, 5.Geert ROORDA, 9.Nick NAIGIORAN (Souleul AZAGANE 54’), 10.Alex CANIGLIA, 11.Liam FLYNN (7.Hamlet ARMENIAN 73’), 13.Bryan BRAN, 16.Alan MULCAHY (22.Nick KOKOLAKIS 84’), 17.Jakob WILLIAMS, 18.Racip CIELI.
Not Used: 1.Evan TAPIA, 6.Peter SAWAN.
Red Cards: Bryan BRAN 44’.