After what seems like an eternity, the Knights are back in action tomorrow night against bottom placed FC Bulleen Lions, making their final away trip to the Veneto Club. With a hefty 17 days between fixtures, interspaced with the NPL’s scheduled catch up round, the Knights have had ample time to rest, recoup and refocus on finals football.
The hosts of the match, FC Bulleen Lions have only been able to amass 18 points so far, split across five wins, three draws and 16 losses. Looking at their current form, the Lions have won only one match out of the last five played, with their last match resulting in a 4-2 win over second from the bottom Northcote City FC in round 24. With only two games in hand, the Lions sit in one of the two relegation positions on the ladder. Regardless of the outcomes of their final two matches, the Lions are mathematically unable to get out of 14th or 13th position which will see them knocked out of this league down to NPL 1. With only one point separating 13th and 14th place, the Lions will be looking for a back to back win to jump up to 13th place and avoid an embarrassing end to a disappointing season.
The other side of the coin is a completely different storey. The Knights’ season at best can be described as sinusoidal, with peaks and troughs in performance since the season began in February. The Knights sit in seventh position on 32 points, one spot outside the top six. Keeping them out of the top six is Port Melbourne Sharks on 33 points. After losing 1-0 to Bentleigh Greens yesterday, the Knights are in a perfect position to steal sixth position from the Sharks and re-enter the race for finals football. With two very winnable games ahead of them, the Knights should be looking to string three back to back wins to give themselves the best chance at competing in the finals. If they do manage to pinch sixth position by the end of round 26, then the side will likely face either Avondale FC or Bentleigh Greens, depending on the results of the final round and which of the two finishes in third position. However, even thinking about those potential match ups is a thought rooted too far in the future as the Knights sit in a dangerous part of the table prone to reshuffling.
Venue: Veneto Club – David Barro Stadium
Forecast: 13°C, Possible showers
Melbourne Knights FC squad: 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, 21. Andelo Svalina, 23. Tim Purcell, 37. AJ Inia
Ins: 1. Harry Cakarun
Outs: 6. Tomislav Uskok (suspension)
Unavailable: 17. Nicholas Jurcic (hamstring)
Referee: Lachlan Keevers
Assistant Referee 1: George Loukeris
Assistant Referee 2: Brandon Smith
4th Official: Daniel Porter