Andrew Marth’s 150th game in charge of Melbourne Knights went according to the script, with a hard fought 1-0 victory against Hume City on Friday night.
Captain Milan Batur returned to the starting line-up and was joined by his deputy Stipo Andrijasevic after a week’s lay off, whilst James McGarry missed through injury.
After a cagey opening quarter hour, the Knights dominated the proceedings with Jason Hicks once again the main antagonist.
A 15th minute free-kick from Hicks forced a near post save from Oldfield in Hume’s goal, and just two minutes later Hicks’ 20-yard shot was driven just over the crossbar.
Another Hicks free-kick in the 18th minute had the Hume defense scrambling, as Ivan Grgic headed just wide from close range.
Knights had yet another golden chance in the 19th minute, but found Chris Oldfield in fine form this time thwarting a Jacob Colosimo effort from close range.
Surviving the 10 minute assault on their goals, the visitors were relived to win a corner in the 23rd minute and apply some of their own pressure. However a quick clearance from Ben Surey re-leased Jason Hicks in the middle of the park, Hicks used the overlapping run from Brekalo who in-turn played a diagonal ball into the box finding Stipo Andrijasevic unmarked in the box. With still plenty to do, the strikers powerful shot eluded Oldfield in goals thanks to a slight deflection giving the Knights a much deserved lead.
Hume City coach Lou Acevski brought on Hernan Espindola at half time, and the ex-Melbourne City player almost payed instant dividends by laying off a ball for Hegarty, whose effort deflected agonisingly wide of the upright.
In the 67th minute, a run of successive corners for the visitors eventually resulted in Steven Cudrig heading just over from close range.
The usually influential Theo Markelis was substituted shortly after, with the Knights’ defence – in particular Nick Glavan – shutting down the striker’s effectiveness.
Stipo Andrijasevic could have sealed the match in the 72nd minute when he found himself unmarked in the area, however some heroics once again from Oldfield kept the visitors in the contest.
In one of most lopsided corner counts in football, the visitors amassed 19 corners to the Knights’ zero but never really threatened to convert one into an equaliser. The most notable chance came in the 82nd minute, as corner number 16 was headed just over from close range by Shane Rexhepi.
The final whistle brought to a close a hard-fought win for Andrew Marth’s men, who now extend their unbeaten run to 6 games in all competitions and leap-frogged their opponents on the night in the process.
Speaking to Knights Media post match, captain Milan Batur highlighted the importance of the win, and how the defense has found consistency.
“Its difficult coming back into the side when you’ve been injured and the team’s being playing well, but to get a win and a clean sheet is a bonus”.
“Hume City are one of the sides contenting for finals again this year, you always want to play against the best teams and try to beat them, and that’s how we rate ourselves on where we are”.
“It’s good to see the boys in defence performing and playing well together, Fraser (Chalmers) at the back is talking a lot and helping them out, and Glavan’s proving himself on the pitch each week, not many players beat him down the line and he is continues to improve which is good for the team”.
Next week the Knights face Bentleigh Greens at Kingston Heath Reserve on Friday night. Kick off is at 8:15pm.
In the Under’s Melbourne Knights and Hume City shared the points in a goalless draw.
SHOTS: MK 9 HC 9
TARGET: MK 4 HC 3
CORNERS: MK 0 HC 19
Melbourne Knights Squad: 20.Chalmers, 3.Grgic, 4.Surey, 5.Batur, 9.Colosimo (13.Katiforis 92’), 10.Cvitkovic (14.Mikulic 60’), 16.Hicks, 18.Brekalo, 19.Glavan, 21.Andrijasevic, 23.Purcell (Jurkovic 81’).
Not Used. 1.O’Farrell, 12.Dezic.
Cautions: Grgic, Brekalo.
Goals: Andrijasevic 23’.
Hume City: 1.Oldfield, 3.Walker, 4.Cudrig, 7.Danning, 8.Markelis (25.Alagane 67’), 10.Franjic, 11.Pavlak, 13.Rexhepi, 14.Harris, 21.Trajcevski (28.Espindola 67’), 39.Hegarty.
Not Used: 20.Franken, 5. Baricevic.