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NPL R3 Preview – Heidelberg v Knights

After a thriller of a match last week against newly-promoted Altona Magic, the Melbourne Knights are back on the road in round three as they face off against 2018 NPL champions, Heidelberg United FC. Fans should take note that the kick off times have been amended owing to the oppressive forecasted weather, with the Under 20’s kicking off at 5pm and the main match at 7pm.

The past two games have seen the Knights hit the ground running under the tutelage of Micky Colina. Last week’s opening home game of the season against the Magic saw a bumper crowd show up to Knights Stadium to cheer the team to triumph. The Knights, who went on to win after an extra time goal thanks to AJ Inia, found themselves on the back foot three times during the match, but found a new resilience that was missing last season under Asanovic. Key to the club’s two first up wins this year has been Kiwi newcomer Hamish Watson, who scored a brace in his first match for the Knights in round one against Oakleigh Cannons and converted a spot kick last week against the Magic. Aside from that, Watson was pivotal in the set-up of Tomislav Uskok’s 55th minute goal, relaying the ball back to Uskok, after seemingly getting fouled in the process.

New Knights signing Atilla Ofli joined the club from Heidelberg this season and is surely one to watch on the weekend – players always love to show their old employers what they’ve lost.

On the other side of the ledger, the former champions start to the season has been, to their own standards, less than perfect. Round one saw the Bergers share the spoils against Pascoe Vale at home with scores locked in at 1-1, after a light post stopped working, forcing the match to terminate early. Round two saw Heidelberg make the tip to Knights’ neighbours, Green Gully SC, where the Cavaliers were able to put four past the Bergers to cause an early season upset.

Regardless of both clubs’ form to date, there is pressure on both to produce a result even this early in the season. A win to the Knights would really cement its dark horse status for season 2019, whilst a loss from Heidelberg’s perspective would spell a horror start to a campaign that promised to at least emulate the feats of last year.

Statistically speaking, in the last 13 games played at Heidelberg’s home – the Knights have a poor record, with the club only being able to secure three wins and losing the remaining ten games. The Knights haven’t scored more than one goal in a match at Olympic Village since 2005.

A record may be broken this weekend however – the club hasn’t started a season with three consecutive wins since the historic 1994/95 NSL season; where the Knights went on to win the national championship for the first time. With plenty riding on the match for both sides this early in the season, it’s sure to be a cracker in some early-evening balmy summer weather for the spectator.

Round 3 Match Details

Date: Saturday 2nd March 2019

Kick-off: 7:00pm

Venue: Olympic Village
Appointed Match Official: Perry Mur
Forecast at 7:00pm: 34 degrees, 18km/h winds

Team News

Melbourne Knights FC Squad:

  1. Harry Cakarun, 2, Luke Jurcic, 4. Tom Podaridis, 5. Ayden Brice, 6. Tomislav Uskok, 8. Gian Albano, 9. Hamish Watson, 10. Marijan Cvitkovic, 11. Nikola Jurkovic, 12. Corey Sewell, 13. Ivan Grgic, 14. AJ Inia, 15. Adrian Tardio, 16. Marcelo De La Plaza, 20. Jordan Gifkins, 25. Atila Ofli, 27. Joseph Franjic.

Unavaliable

Anthony Duzel (1 week suspension)

Yutaro Shin – injury

Daniel Visevic – suspended (1 week suspension remaining)

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