Knights miss out on Derby spoils

Melbourne Knights eleven match unbeaten run was brought to an end with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of South Melbourne in the Original Melbourne Derby at Knights Stadium on Friday night.

Gevaro Nepomuceno’s fourth goal of the season wasn’t enough for the Knights, who were undone by goals from Jack Painter-Andrews and Ajak Riak in Friday’s Round 16 clash.

Knights nearly opened the scoring in the just the second minute when Luka Kolic weaved his way into the area before his deflected strike came back off the crossbar and was headed inches wide of the target by Ciaran Bramwell.

South goalkeeper Javi Lopez showed why he’s the reigning NPL Victoria Goalkeeper of the Year throughout the half with a string of fine saves to deny Bramwell, Albano and Nepomuceno.

The visitors opened the scoring on the stroke of half time when Painter-Andrews rifled a first-time effort through a sea of bodies and into the back of the net on the end of Max Mikkola corner.

Knights came out firing in the second half and finally found their breakthrough in the 51st minute when Nepomuceno cut in from the right and blasted a powerful effort into the bottom corner at the near post.

However, Knights good work was undone almost immediately when Riak finished from close range after Mikkola pounced on a loose pass out from the back and forced Chris Oldfield into a strong initial save just two minutes later.

From that point the home side pushed hard for an equaliser, coming closest through Albano and Bramwell but were unable to find an equaliser against the league’s stingiest defence.

Knights were reduced to ten men in the 85th minute when midfielder Mitch Hore received his marching orders after picking up his second caution of the contest for a foul on Josh Wallen.

Friday’s defeat, which was Knights first at home of the 2023 season brings to an end a club record eight-game NPL Victoria unbeaten run and leaves Knights in fourth position at the end of the weekend’s Round 16 action.

Speaking post-match, Melbourne Knights Head Coach, Ben Cahn said while his side were bitterly disappointed with the result there were positives to take from Friday’s performance.

“We’re obviously very disappointed with the result and disappointed for everyone who came to support us last night,” Cahn said.

 We played well for the most part and there were some great individual performances, players stepped up in different roles with both the Franjic’s out.

“We really should have been two or three up before their first goal and we created some good opportunities in the second half as well.

“They’re good at what they do, they waste time from the first minute, they defend their back third well and they’re dangerous from set pieces.

“We’ll recover well and refocus on making sure we get into finals. We can take belief from this game that if we play them again we can beat them because chance for chance we did enough to win.

“We’ll make sure we keep improving in the areas we need to and prepare well for Bentleigh next weekend.”

Next up for Knights is a trip to Kingston Heath on Saturday afternoon for a second meeting with the Greens in the space of three weeks.

Ben Cahn’s side defeated Bentleigh 2-0 in Australia Cup action when the pair met a fortnight ago to add to a 1-0 win in the league over the same opponents at Somers Street back in March.

MATCH DETAILS

NPL Victoria 2023 – Round 16: Melbourne Knights v South Melbourne

Knights Stadium, Sunshine North

Friday, 2 June

Melbourne Knights – 1 (Gevaro NEPOMUCENO 51’)

South MELBOURNE – 2 (Jack PAINTER-ANDREWS 45+2’, Ajak RIAK 54’)

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