The Knights are back on the road this week, as they make the trip down the M2 towards Avenger Park (Reggio Calabria Club, Parkville), new home of Avondale FC. Round 23 marks the second last away round for the Knights, who will be looking to take out a high-flying Avondale side moving towards finals.
This week’s match-up is, on paper, the Knight’s toughest opponent in the remaining rounds and after last week’s bitter loss to Kingston City, the Knights can’t afford to drop any more points. NPL finals football format works in the same way as the A-league format, with the top two teams automatically advancing to the semi-finals, and the remaining four teams battling it out for a place in the semis, such that third plays off against sixth, with the match played at third’s home, and fourth place versus fifth place, with the match played at fourths home.
Avondale FC currently sit in third place, two points behind Bentleigh Greens on 46 points. Going into Round 23, Avondale is more than likely to be in the finals series, the only question being will they qualify positioned in second, or third? The task will definitely be tough for the Knights to cause an upset at Avenger Park. The last time the sides met resulted in a 2-2 draw, so the Knights are definitely capable of playing toe-to-toe with a rampaging Avondale. The Knights should be aware of Avondale danger man Liam Bolland, who sits with 12 goals to his name and is in second place, only two goals behind Pascoe Vale’s Davey Van’T Schip, to take out the golden boot for this season.
The Knights on the other hand, sit in seventh position, just one spot outside the six on 29 points. Getting back into the six will be no easy task thanks to last week’s blunder, but it is possible, provided the side doesn’t drop anymore crucial points. The side can pick up a total of 12 possible points in the remaining weeks, but the run into finals is complicated by a tightly packed mid-table. The coveted 6th position will be a fight between the Melbourne Knights, Oakleigh Cannons, Dandenong Thunder, South Melbourne, Green Gully, Kingston City and Hume City, who are all separated by only 6 points. By simple addition, the Knights can make it into fourth position, but the likelihood of that happening is low as it will be determined by the results of other clubs, even with a win over Avondale.
Whatever the result, it is sure to be an electric match on Saturday afternoon in Parkville, with plenty at stake for both sides. Make sure you make the quick trip to Avenger park to support the boys on their journey into the finals.
Venue: Reggio Calabria Club, Parkville
Forecast: 15°C, Partly cloudy
Melbourne Knights FC squad: 1. Harry Cakarun, 2. Luke Jurcic, 3. Shaun Timmins 4. Ben Surey, 5. Milan Batur, 6. Tomislav Uskok, 7. Nate Foster, 9. Kym Harris, 10. Marijan Cvitkovic, 11. Nikola Jurkovic, 12. Anthony Dezic, 13. Ayden Brice, 14. Teeboy Kamara, 18. Mitchell Walsh, 19. Anthony Duzel, 20. Jordan Gifkins, 23. Tim Purcell, 37. AJ Inia
Outs: 21. Andelo Svalina (injured)
Unavailable: 17. Nicholas Jurcic (hamstring)
Referee: Adam Bavcar
Assistant Referee 1: Joanna Charaktis
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Isaac
4th Official: Asterios Sakalis