Melbourne Knights ended a tumultuous week for the football club with a 1-0 win over Hume City FC at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
A winless streak of 7 games saw the midweek departures of head coach Andrew Marth & assistant Frank Juric, with captain Ben Surey stepping into the fold as caretaker coach.
In an unusual predicament Surey was also suspended after collecting 5 yellow cards, isolating him to the change rooms and relaying instructions from the stands. Damien Miskulin and Kym Harris also missed due to injury, replaced by Nikola Jurkovic, Tom Cahill and seventeen year old Adrian Tardio for his full debut. There was also some welcome news on the bench with Marijan Cvitkovic and Patrick Gerhardt available for selection.
With a subtle change in formation it was a positive start for the Knights. Kamsoba who made an impressive debut in the reverse fixture in round one started brightly for the home side shooting over the bar in just the third minute.
Danny Dixon starting as a central striker was almost rewarded for his efforts, closing down two back passes and almost forcing an error from goalkeeper Michael Weier.
Dixon would be central to the majority of Knights attacks in the first half. A well swung-in set piece agonisingly evaded Milan Batur at the back post, before Dixon came close to opening the scoring twice in as many minutes nearing the half time break. Some brilliant build up play from Kamsoba led to Dixon shooting over the bar from a tight angle on his right foot, before coming even closer on his left foot with a curling effort inches wide of the upright.
Hume City settled in the second half, with early chances falling to Atila Ofli and Wayne Wallace. Goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers was called into his first notable save midway through the half denying Ofli in a one-on-one.
Knights would give Hume City a perfect opportunity to take a strangle hold of the match, after an off the ball incident led to playmaker Jason Hicks receiving a straight red card.
Just two minutes later however, the Knights spurned the best chance of the match. Substitute Marijan Cvitkovic’s through ball released Kamsoba clear through on goal, with the usually reliable attacker placing his effort just wide.
You could forgive the squad had they dropped their heads after that opportunity. Coming off a luckless seven weeks without a win, culminating in the axing of the club’s longest serving coach and compounded by the sending off of Jason Hicks, the odds were firmly stacked against the Knights. It would be then fitting that life long supporter Marijan Cvitkovic, who himself was coming off a lengthy injury layoff would capitalise on a defensive error from the Hume defence to open the scoring and send the fans into raptures.
The final minutes of the fixture were not without nerves as Fraser Chalmers twice denied Wayne Wallace with brilliant reflex saves. Patrick Gerhardt was brought on for his long awaited debut and gave the home side some solidity in defence.
A 95th minute corner saw Hume City send up Michael Weier, giving the Knights faithful unwanted flashbacks to the round 1 late equaliser from the goalkeeper. There would be no repeat this time, with a final clearance bringing the final whistle to players and fans alike.
The win moves Melbourne Knights clear of the relegation zone, and just 3 points behind 6th place Hume City in what is shaping up as one of the closest league tables in recent history. A visit to CB Smith Reserve on Friday night to face Pascoe Vale is next up for the Knights.
Melbourne Knights: 1.Fraser CHALMERS, 2.Luke JURCIC, 6.Milan BATUR, 11.Nikola JURKOVIC, 12.Anthony DEZIC, 13.Tom CAHILL (17.Patrick GERHARDT 84′), 15.Danny DIXON, 16.Jason HICKS, 23.Timmy PURCELL, 27.Elvis KAMSOBA, 45.Adrian TARDIO (10.Marijan CVITKOVIC 60′)
Not Used: 20.Gabriel MATTI, 32.Marcelo DE LA PLAZA SANCHEZ, 38.Jakob KRAJACIC.
Red Card: Jason HICKS 73′
Goals: Marijan CVITKOVIC 77′.
Hume City: 1.Michael WEIER, 3.Kristopher KIOUSSIS (38.Liam BOLAND 78′), 4.James MCGARRY(10.Theo MARKELIS 81′), 5.Blair GOVAN, 6.Daniel CLARK, 7.Atila OFLI, 8.Wayne WALLACE, 9.Jayden PRASAD, 15.Hayden TENNANT, 17.Anthony BRAN, 39.Nick HEGARTY.
Not Used: 20.Glen TAPIA, 2.Ersin KAYA, 14.Nick PANETTA.