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NPL R17 Preview – Knights vs. Bentleigh

After a whirlwind few weeks, the Knights are back on the road in round 17 of the NPL, this time making the trek away to Kingston Heath Soccer Complex to face off against third placed Bentleigh Greens SC with kick off at 5pm on Saturday night.

Following a classic FFA Cup match against long-time rivals South Melbourne FC, with over 1000 people in attendance, the Knights were able to swiftly put an end to South’s Cup dreams after a 4-2 victory.

The Knights immediately took the game by the throat after Hamish Watson was able to find the back of the net in the ninth minute. It would prove to be a momentous night for the Kiwi, who would go on to score a hat trick for his club against South Melbourne, the first since Mark Viduka. South only managed to find the back of the net twice by the end of full time, with the Knights clapping back within 5 minutes each time to deny the visitors any chance of taking the lead.

Watson’s hat trick came after goals in the 9th, 30th and 70th minute. Ivan Grgic also nabbed a goal for himself and celebrated in epic style with the rest of the team in front of the Knights fans on Quarry Hill. An epic night deserved epic celebrations, with the squad celebrating well into the night. The win sees the Knights advance to the national stage of the FFA Cup competition, the first time since 2016 and into the semi-final of the Docherty Cup where they will meet the winner of St. Albans Saints and Bulleen Lions.

The win aside, the Knights are only afforded two days rest between consecutive matches before another epic clash, this time at the hands of Bentleigh Greens.

The Knights come into the league round following an unlucky loss to Heidelberg United at home in the previous round. Heidelberg were able to pinch the win after a goal deflection caught Harry Cakarun unaware, despite putting in a fitting performance against one of the league’s top sides.

The loss sees the Knights slip down to fifth on the ladder with 26 points after Hume City were able to claim the win against Altona Magic.

This round the Knights will be without keeper Cakarun who broke his finger during training earlier in the week, being replaced by Jordan Gifkins.

Bentleigh on the other hand sit in third place on the ladder with 32 points, only one point behind second place Heidelberg United and five points behind league leaders Avondale FC. The Greens have maintained a level of consistency for the majority of the season with 10 wins, 2 draws and only four losses despite having had a structural shake up.

After taking up a job in May at newly minted A-League club Western United, the club departed with head coach John Anastasiadis, with John Gabrielson appointed as his replacement. The club has also had a productive mid-season transfer window, signing forwards Cai Tipaldo and Daniel Stynes, midfielders Futa Nakamura and Mario Ilich and goal keeper Michael Stark. The Greens also signed Calvin Whitney, who made the switch to the Knights before playing a match for the Greens, despite a club announcement. For the Greens, Matt Thurtell has been the most prolific in front of goal, already nabbing nine for himself and sitting fourth on the leading goal scorer tally.

The last time the two met, the Knights put together a solid performance and handed Bentleigh one of their only four defeats, beating them 2-0 at home thanks to a brace by Hamish Watson. Historically, the match up always seems to bring out the best in both sides and as the Knights have been regaining their early season form, this match is sure to be no different. With mostly sunny weather forecasted and a top of 16 degrees, some exciting Saturday football awaits so head on down to Kingston Heath Soccer Complex to cheer on the Knights.

Round 17 Match Details

Date: Saturday 15th June 2019

Kick-off: 5:00pm

Venue: Kingston Heath Soccer Complex

Match Official: Jack Morgan

Team News

Melbourne Knights FC Squad:

1. Thomas Skoff, 3. Nick Glavan, 4. Calvin Whitney, 5. Ayden Brice, 7. Gian Albano, 8. Caleb Mikulic,  9. Hamish Watson, 10. Marijan Cvitkovic, 11. Nikola Jurkovic, 12. Corey Sewell, 13. Ivan Grgic, 14. AJ Inia, 15. Adrian Tardio, 16. Mohamed Awad, 19. Anthony Duzel, 20. Jordan Gifkins, 25. Atila Ofli, 27. Joseph Franjic

Unavailable

1. Harry Cakarun, 2. Luke Jurcic

Bentleigh Greens SC Squad:

1. Ryan Scott, 2. Matthew Crooks, 3. Jacob Alexander, 4. Charles Fry, 5. Jack Webster(C), 7. Joshua Barresi, 8. George Lambadaridis, 9. Futa Nakamura, 10. Tyson Holmes, 11. James Xydias, 15. Marco Jankovic, 16. Joshua Meaker, 18. Matthew Thurtell, 20. Michael Stark, 23. Velibor Mitrovic, 24. Mario Ilich, 25. Daniel Stynes

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