Melbourne Knights pushed league leaders Heidelberg United all the way, but ultimately fell agonisingly short of collecting valuable points losing 1-0 to a first half stoppage time penalty at the Olympic Village on Sunday.
It was another improved effort from Ben Surey’s squad, with the stand in coach initially opting to keep faith in the same starting eleven as last week, until he was forced into a late change with Jurcic replacing Batur at right-back.
The Knights started the match brightly, with early chances failing the way of Kamsoba, Dixon and a Harris free-kick. Despite their early dominance the Knights were unable to gain reward for effort, with Tom Cahill coming the closest in the 33rd minute smashing his effort onto the crossbar.
Heidelberg began to take ascendancy late in the half, with front duo of Shaun Ellis and Kenny Athiu drawing decent saves from Knights goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers.
The late pressure from the home side was rewarded in the dying seconds of the opening half. How the goal came about fit perfectly with just how luckless the Knights season has been. In the 4th minute of added on time when only 1 minute was indicated, Heidelberg earned a throw-in which looked clear to be a Knights ball. From the resulting throw-in the home side won a free kick, and from that resulting free-kick, the ball deflected through a sea of players and unknowingly struck Ben Surey on the hand – penalty – goal.
It was a hammer blow for the visiting Knights, who looked to still be suffering from the after effects well into the second half.
Chances were few and far between as the Bergers’ bossed possession and looked to hold out the contest. However with news filtering through that other results were in the Knights favour, the visitors pushed hard for a late equaliser.
Young defender Luke Jurcic came close to a goal of the season contender after unleashing a 25 yard half volley into the framework.
There was still time for the Knights to hit the woodwork for a third occasion in the final minutes, as a Dixon header was the catalyst for a goalmouth scramble with the upright once again coming to the aid of the home side.
Melbourne Knights will feel aggrieved not to have at least taken a point from the game, and make some ground on Kingston City who suffered a surprising loss to St Albans Saints.
This leaves the Knights still 4 points behind the 11th placed Kingston City, with a huge home fixture on Friday night against arch-rivals South Melbourne at Knights Stadium.
Melbourne Knights Squad: 1.Fraser CHALMERS, 2.Luke JURCIC, 3.Shaun TIMMONS, 4.Ben SUREY, 9.Kym HARRIS (8.Kamal IBRAHIM 46’), 11.Nikola JURKOVIC (10.Marijan CVITKOVIC 73’), 13.Tom CAHILL, 15.Danny DIXON, 16.Jason HICKS, 27.Elvis KAMSOBA.
Not Used: 20.Gabriel MATTI, 12.Anthony DEZIC, 19.Anthony DUZEL.
Heidelberg United Squad: 1.Chris THEODORIDIS, 3.Les DOUMBALIS, 7.Rueben WAY, 9.Adrian ZAHRA, 10.Jack PETRIE, 12.Ken ATHIU, 13. Luke BYLES, 14.Harry NOON (5.Michael TRIGGER 68’), 15.Paul O’BRIEN (11.Kostas KANAKARIS 79’), 17.Steven PACE (4.Jordan WILKES 63’), 19.Shuan ELLIS.
Not Used: 23.Christian PAVLIDIS, 22.Alexander SCHIAVO.
Goal: ATHIU 45+4m penalty.