It a double header this Friday night at home Knights fans as both the reserves and first team are set to battle it out. The Knights three-home-game advantage will come to an end after this Friday’s Round 18 NPL clash, which will see second place Bentleigh Greens make the trip across Melbourne to the Somers St facility.
After a disappointing loss in the previous round to Hume City, the Knights will be looking to make a statement against Bentleigh after their last meeting in Round 5 resulted in hard-fought but eventual 2-1 loss.
As it stands, the Knights sit in sixth position on 24 points, one less than fifth placed Port Melbourne SC and two more than seventh placed Green Gully SC. To date, the Knights have only scored four less goals than Bentleigh, however they have conceded twice as many goals, with Bentleigh having only conceded 15 goals this season, compared to the Knights, who have conceded 33 goals. The home squad will be gunning for 5th position this week, which will require maximizing every opportunity in front of goal, whilst keeping on a tight lid defensively.
Bentleigh are likely to apply the pressure early on the Knights, as they continue to try to pinch first place from Heidelberg United, with the task up to the Reds to effectively stop Bentleigh from creating chances, which will include shutting down the Green’s prolific striker, Matthew Thurtell, who sits on 16 goals this season.
A key positive for the Knights heading into Round 18 is that a number of key starting player’s return to squad selection, including Shaun Timmins, who was present for Knights recent three game winning streak. For the Knights, moving on from last week’s hiccup is crucial. The last time the two met, the Knights played a competitive match away from home and could have claimed the at least a point, if it wasn’t for Charles Fry’s late goal.
As the race towards the finals heats up, maximizing points is vital for the Knights to cement a top four finish, as there are only 7 points separating fourth to ninth place on the ladder.
Venue: Knights Stadium
Forecast: 13°C, Late showers
Melbourne Knights FC squad: 1. Harry Cakarun, 2. Luke Jurcic, 4. Ben Surey, 5. Milan Batur, 6. Tomislav Uskok, 7. Nate Foster, 9. Kym Harris, 10. Marijan Cvitkovic, 12. Anthony Dezic, 13. Ayden Brice, 14. Teeboy Kamara 17. Nicholas Jurcic, 18. Mitchell Walsh, 19. Anthony Duzel, 21. Andelo Svalina, 37 AJ Inia, 40. Sam Butcher
Ins: 3. Shaun Timmins, 23. Tim Purcell
Unavailable: 11. Nikola Jurkovic (injury), 20. Jordan Gifkins (injury)
Referee: Jonathan Barreiro
Assistant Referee 1: Maximilian Hanlon
Assistant Referee 2: Nicholas Pantelidis
4th Official: Joshua James