Late charge earns Knights top spot
By Chris Hearn (@_ChrisHearn)
Tomislav Uskok's injury time goal has propelled Melbourne Knights to the top of the NPL standings, defeating Dandenong Thunder 1-0.
The goal came after an uninspiring 90 minutes, as the game was largely bogged down in midfield until the final 15 minutes.
The hosts adopted its pressing strategy from the very first exchanges, as did Thunder, resulting in an array of rushed passes.
It was Knights who founds its feet first, mainly thanks to the calming influence provided Ben Surey, but the visitors remained resolute.
Alex Dao's in-swinging cross found the forehead of Andrew Barisic, but after a hat-trick in Saturday's 4-1 FFA Cup win against Melton Phoenix, the striker will have been disappointed with his misdirected effort.
Barisic then was heavily involved in the game's only point of controversy.
After being booked for dissent on the half-hour mark, the striker lunged in on Thunder goalkeeper Zaim Zeneli late in an effort to get the ball; Barisic escaped with anything more than a foul against him.
The first half finished with a whimper, and the second started similarly slowly.
Dao's delivery from a set-piece situation wreaked havoc before Zeneli eventually collected on 57 minutes.
Thunder defender Adam Petko's directed a powerful header towards Chris May's goal, but it was caught easily by the goalkeeper. Despite the effort, the visitors needed to threaten the Knights goal with increased regularity.
Thunder coach Stuart Munro brought on pacy forward Ahmed Yusuf and Michael Gerace in a bid to snatch all three points.
The substitutes combined on 80 minutes, Yusuf's inbound run ending with a lay-off to Gerace who forced a strong save out of May from 18 yards.
But it was the hosts that had the final say. Following a lengthy goalmouth scramble, Knights skipper Tomislav Uskok found himself with time on the ball on the edge of the six-area to toe-poke home.
Marth’s squad travels to Galvin Park next week to face Werribee City, while Thunder hosts Hume City at George Andrews Reserve.
Melbourne Knights 1 (Uskok) defeated Dandenong Thunder 0 at Knights Stadium [HT 0-0]
Melbourne Knights: 1 Chris MAY, 3 Adrian DEL MONACO, 4 Ben Surey, 5 Milan BATUR, 6 Tomislav USKOK, 8 Jamie McGARRY, 15 Alex DAO (7. Chris TALAJIC 66'), 18 Joshua BREKALO (11. Anthony COLOSIMO 85'), 21 Stipo ANDRIJASEVIC (17. Josh BERRIOS 90+2'), 23 Adrian ZAHRA, 27 Andrew BARISIC
Unused substitutes: 25 Michael O'FARRELL, 13 Anthony KATIFORIS
Yellow card(s): Andrew BARISIC 30', Stipo Andrejasivic 74'
Red card(s): None
Dandenong Thunder: 21. Zaim ZENELI, 4. Adam PETKO, 3. Ramazan TAVSANCIOGLU, 5. Faisal SAKHI ZADA, 12. Brendan ELMAZOVSKI, 6. Alan MULCAHY, 8. Lewis FOSTER, 18. Ariel RITZ (23. Michael GERACE 69'), 9. Veton KORCARI, 2. Jarryd BARNES (11. Ayodeji OMOBOYNE 53'), 17. Fatim IBRAIMI (7. Ahmed YUSUF 64')
Unused substitutes: 19. Ahmed ABDULRAHMAN, 26. Sermin SADIKOVSKI
Yellow card(s): Fitim IBRAIMI 31', Faisal SAKHI ZADA 90+2'
Red card(s): None
PHOTO: Steve Starek