Despite playing the best part of 70 minutes with just 10 men, Melbourne Knights earned a creditable point away to Port Melbourne in a 1-1 draw on Friday night.
An uneventful opening 20 minutes to the match was turned on its head after a mis-kick from Fraser Chalmers began an unfortunate series of events, that resulted in captain Milan Batur receiving his marching orders for a last man challenge, and Port Melbourne earning a spot kick.
Knights’ custodian guessed correctly to deny Kearney from the spot, as Andrew Marth reshuffled his back line by bringing on Ivan Grgic.
With a man advantage, Port Melbourne took ascendant of the contest. Zahra and Riccobene applied pressure with their darting runs, while Stirton tested Chalmers from long range. The best chance for the home side came in the 40th minute as a weaving run and long shot from Riccobene was destined for the top corner, only to find Chalmers equal to the task.
Against the run of play, Knights fashioned its first real threat in the 44th minute when Colosimo found Hicks in the 18-yard box, whose quick turn-and-shot almost squeezed past Gal at the near post.
The home side didn’t heed that warning, as just a minute later Colosimo was brought down inside the box earning the Knights a penalty of their own. Colosimo took the penalty himself and sent Gal the wrong way to give his side the lead at half time.
Port Melbourne came out of the break with real intent, and fashioned a number of goalscoring opportunities early on.
Shaun Kelly’s long range drive took a deflection en route to goal, but still couldn’t find a way past a defiant Chalmers. In the 57th minute, a low range strike from Honos was initially parried by Chalmers, before pouncing on the loose ball to deny Goodwin a tap-in on the rebound.
With the Knights content to counter attacking, Stipo Andrijasevic tested Gal from long rage but could not direct his effort straight at the keeper.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the young Knights defense – with average of of just 19 – never looked overwhelmed by the situation confronting them. But it took a moment of controversy to bring Port Melbourne back level.
In the 75th minute, James McGarry was adjudged to have hand-balled in the penalty area despite strong claims the ball struck his shoulder, with David Stirton converting the resulting penalty.
Just minutes later, Ivan Grgic almost restored the Knights’ advantage only to see his head cleared off the line.
The Knights managed to hold out any further Port Melbourne attacks, amid a number of dubious calls late on in the contest which saw many Knights players booked, including an alleged dive by Mikulic on the half way line, before head coach Andrew Marth was also controversially sent to the stands.
Speaking to Knights Media post match, young defender Anthony Katiforis described how his side earned some respect on the night.
“We knew after we received the red card and penalty it was going to be a big test for us, but as the fans saw and the coach said, today we earned a lot of respect for our performance and effort put in”
“When a senior player gets sent off, it’s the part that the like of Nick (Glavan), Grgic, Cali and I have to play to step up and show we are capable of playing at his level no matter what age we are, and I’m extremely proud of the effort and heart the team showed today”.
Melbourne Knights’ next NPL game will be against newly promoted Bulleen Lions at Knights Stadium on Easter Thursday, kick off is at 8:30pm. However, the club will be in FFA Cup action next weekend, with the draw for that fixture to be held on Tuesday afternoon.
In the Under 21’s Port Melbourne defeated the Knights 2-1.
SHOTS: MK 5 PM 13
TARGET: MK 4 PM 8
CORNERS: MK 4 PM 7
Melbourne Knights Squad: 20.Chalmers, 4.Surey, 5.Batur, 6.Cali, 8.McGarry (11.Jurkovic 79’), 9.Colosimo (14.Mikulic 58’), 13.Katiforis, 16.Hicks, 19.Glavan, 21.Andrijasevic, 23.Purcell (3.Grgic 24’).
Not Used. 1.O’Farrell, 12.Dezic.
Goals: 9.Colosimo 45’Pen.
Cautions:. McGarry, Andrijasevic, Glavan, Mikulic, Jurkovic,.
Red Cards: 5.Batur 21’.
Port Melbourne Squad: 1.Gal, 2.Viola, 3.Riccobene, 4.Karvelis (22.Opperman 63’), 6.Mulchay 12.Goodwin 46’), 7. De Abrue (17.Yalaz 77’), 9. Zahra, 10.Stirton, 16.Kearney, 19.Kelly, 26.Honos.
Not Used: 20.Stark
Goals. 10.Stirton 75’pen
Cautions. Karvelis, Kearney.