Round five of the Victorian NPL saw Melbourne Knights on the road yet again, this time traveling to Kingston Heath Soccer Complex, the home of Bentleigh Greens SC. After walking away with only two points from two games, a frustrated Knights team were disappointed to walk away with no points on Friday night, after a spirited display of football from both sides.
— Melbourne Knights FC (@MelbKnights) March 23, 2018
The match began with both sides wasting no time in trying to assert. The Knights’ first chance came early in the match when Brody Taylor, coming off the back of a brace last week, cleverly chipped the ball over Bentleigh’s entire back line, unfortunately the shot had a touch too much power on it and ultimately dipped over the crossbar.
This early chance set the tone for the remainder of the match, which saw the Knights retain majority of the possession for the first half and have more chances on goal than the home side. Not long after their first chance, in the 14th minute, a decisive stop by Knights goal keeper Harry Cakarun set up an attacking piece of play which saw Nate Foster have a shot on goal, only to be denied by the Greens keeper Ryan Scott.
Knights shot-stopper Harry Cakarun saw a return to form, who was able to deny Bentleigh a lead at home before the half-time whistle.
In an NPL season riddled with bookings across all sides, the first booking of the match for the Knights came in the 22nd minute from a challenge on Bentleigh’s James Xydias by Foster.
As the match progressed, additional chances on goal began to accumulate for the Knights. In the 26th minute, Ayden Brice fired a shot on goal from 20 yards, narrowly missing the goal and going over the crossbar. In the 36th minute, a well-timed ball was released by club captain Marijan Cvitkovic; who sent it onto the feet of an advancing Taylor, finding himself with plenty of space, Taylor unleashed a shot on goal, smashing the side post and rebounding back into play.
The second half began just as quickly as the first did. Early into the second half, as the fouls were being called freely; Knights defender Nikola Jurkovic was penalised with a yellow card for what appeared to be a slight shove on Bentleigh’s Matt Thurtell, who appeared to go down with the help of the increasing winds at Kingston Heath.
In a piece of counter attacking play, Bentleigh forward Chris Lucas made a run onto goal but was stopped decisively by Knights defender Ayden Brice, with the ball being picked up by Luke Jurcic, who was able to take the play back into the Bentleigh’s half. Jurcic then slipped the ball cleanly onto the feet of Taylor, who had ample space to charge into Bentleigh’s box and fire off a shot on goal. An expertly placed strike past Scott saw Knights go up 0-1 in the 57th minute, with Taylor running to the sideline to celebrate his fine form with his newest fans.
The contest kicked up a gear after the first goal and in the 61st minute; Taylor rubbed shoulders with an advancing Jason Hicks, with the contact being too much for the former Knights forward, causing him to go down. Scenes erupted as Hicks shoved Taylor, with both teams becoming involved in a minor scuffle. Despite the free-flowing free-kick calls throughout the evening, both sides escaped cardless from the incident.
Not long after, in the 66th minute, Hicks was able to equalise for the home side, from a quick piece of transitional play. In quick succession, in the 70th minute, Bentleigh’s Velibor Mitrovic was able to beat Ayden Brice to the ball, as he crossed to meet Thurtell who was then able to slot it into goal.
The match ended with a 2-1 scoreline in favour of the home side, and despite intensity from a hungry Knights outfit, the reds go into the next round with everything to play for as they look to get their season back on track with a firm win.
Join us this Thursday night at 7.30pm when we face Altona Magic SC at Knights stadium in round 4 of the Westfield FFA Cup, followed by our NPL Victoria round 6 derby clash against South Melbourne next Friday night the 6th of April.