Knights claim derby bragging rights
By Brad Hutchings
Melbourne Knights has finally defeated South Melbourne in its fourth attempt of the season with a 2-1 win at a rain-soaked Knights Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The day belonged to goalkeeper Chris May, who produced a string of saves to give his side the three points, including a penalty save deep in second half added time.
After prior defeats in league and cup against their biggest rivals this season, it looked as though the Knights would have been denied a win once again when the referee spotted a handball inside the box to hand South an opportunity to take a share of the points.
May had other ideas however as he saved David Stirton’s tame penalty attempt.
The penalty going in would have been unfair on Knights with some doubts surrounding the legitimacy of the penalty and they were good value of the win.
Terrible conditions greeted both sides with rain falling all afternoon with Knights prevailing thanks to goals to Stipo Andrijasevic and Christopher Talajic either side of a Matthew Theodore strike for South.
Melbourne’s big wet that hit the city Sunday afternoon hampered the game considerably with players unable to keep their feet at crucial stages and passes missing their target.
The rain did slightly letup as the half grew but the deluge that hit the area prior to kick off already did its damage with the ball holding up in the wet numerous times.
The conditions did allow for some pretty serious tackles to take place with players flying in aided by the soaked turf.
It was the visitors who enjoyed the better of the opening half despite the scoreboard as they dominated position, camping Knights deep in their own half for large periods of play.
The linesman was proving to be a real nuisance for the home side as multiple Knights' attacks were called back due to offside.
The conditions almost handed South Melbourne the opener in the 28th minute when a loose ball at the back followed by May slipping over left Milos Lujic clear on goal, only for the striker to be unable to take position.
South were somehow denied the opener again just minutes later as Lujic forced a smart save with his legs falling to Leigh Minopolous whose header was cleared off the line.
If that wasn’t enough for Knights to deal with May then made a point blank save to further frustrate the visitors.
Melbourne Knights appeared to end the deadlock in the 32nd minute when Luis Covarrubias found the back of the net, only for the lineman flag to intervene once more.
That elusive opener came just two minute later for the Knights when Andrijasevic moved clear of the South defence to sharply pop one over Nikola Roganovic to put his side in the lead.
The big man was never far from the action all afternoon, receiving a yellow card just one minute after scoring then managed to come off second-best from a collision with the referee in the early stages if the second half.
South Melbourne were back on level terms in the 50th minute when Theodore fired one off outside the edge of the box which crept just wide of May to finally get the better of the in-form shot-stopper.
Determined to regain the lead, it was the Knights who controlled the play after falling level and were back in front in the 70th minute when Talajic reacted the quickest to a scramble inside the box to slam the ball home in emphatic fashion.
South’s only real chance at finding another equaliser was limited to the fluffed penalty attempt by Stirton and struggled to breakdown a determined Knights backline, led by the unstoppable May.
Full time: Melbourne Knights 2(Andrijasevic 34’, Talajic 70’) defeated South Melbourne 1(Theodore 50’) at Knights Stadium. [HT: 1-0]
Melbourne Knights: 1. Chris MAY (GK), 12. Ivan GRGIC, 6. Tomislav USKOK, 5. Milan BATUR, 11. Anthony COLOSIMO, 18. Josh BREKALO (7. Chris TALAJIC 55’), 4. Ben SUREY, 8. James McGARRY, 17. Robbie ZADWORNY (2. Luke JURCIC 88’), 21. Stipo ANDRIJASEVIC, 14. Luis COVARRUBIAS (10. Marwan CVITKOVIC 66’)
Unused Subs: 25. Michael O’FARRELL, 3. Anthony KATIFORIS
Yellow Cards: ANDRIJASEVIC 36’, COVARRUBIAS 43’, BREKALO 45’ SUREY 80’, USKOK 90+5’, McGARRY 90+4
Red Cards: None
South Melbourne: 1.Nikola ROGANOVIC, 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR, 7. Nick EPIFANO, 8. Matthew THEODORE, 9. Milos LUJIC, 11.Bradley NORTON, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. Chris IRWIN, 27. Leigh MINOPOULOUS (10. David STIRTON 78’), 77. Steve HATZKOSTAS (21. Jake BARKER-DAISH 78’)
22. Fraser MacLAREN, 6. Tom LAKIC, 16. Andy BEVIN
Yellow Cards: IRWIN 14’