Melbourne Knights battled hard but were eventually overpowered by a Parramatta Power that was less fluent than last week but still able to shrug off the close attention of the Knights defence to win by 4 goals to nil.
Home again on the back of the huge 6-0 win over the Glory last week Power had an unchanged squad. Despite having lost promising defender Andrew Durante they had the depth to cover, whilst the Knights were realing from the absence of four players from their threadbare squad, including the inspirational Andrew Marth. The Knights were coming off a good win away to Sydney Olympic last week, with Anthony Pelikan on song in front of goals.
Of interest was the crowd, whether the win and being top of the table would boost the meagre crowds or would the continual switching of day and time confuse even the diehards! As it turned out only a meagre 1,683 turned up on a perfect night to watch the league leaders who are playing wonderful football. What is the answer?
From the kick off it was obvious that the Knights would keep as many men behind the ball as possible, and try to catch Parramatta on the break. The close attention the Melbourne defenders were paying the Power players was evidenced by Andre Gumprecht going down in the area in the 3rd minute claiming a penalty, but referee Peter Green waived play on. With each side feeling each other out there was no further goal mouth action until Johnny Buonavoglia shot wide from the left with five Knights players advancing on him.
Knights had either Anthony Pelikan or Nick Waite up front alternately and in the 12th minute Waite placed a lob over toward Pelikan on the left but Power 'keeper Clint Bolton was down to smother. Knights concentrated for a lengthy period to close the Parramatta players deep, and hold possession in midfield. In the 27th minute Power sought to by-pass this by playing a long ball from Jacek Sobczyk to Buonavoglia on the right whose first-time cross was weakly hit by Ante Milicic to the new Knights keeper Tommi Tomich (just signed from Western Knights in WA state league). One minute later after a quick 1-2, Gumprecht got a cross in to Milicic but his header was wide on the right of goal.
Pelikan made a surging run toward the goal area from the left, beating two men but being stopped at the third hurdle. The game was very fast at this point and it looked like a goal may come. It was in the 37th minute that the Knights strategy broke down due to three players expecting the others to clear the ball, and Milicic pounced, hitting a strong shot in the direction of goal but it hit a retreating Antun Kovacic and redirected into the net. Power seem to lift with this goal and the best chance fell to Ahmad Elrich just before half-time but he could only hit the right side netting.
Melbourne Knights came out in more attacking mood after the break, substituting two players, and a Kovacevic header which was just over, and Waite shooting just wide after a blocked shot, showed they wanted a result. However it was Power who struck, with a ground ball played in hard from the left by Buonavoglia being steered inside the far post by Milicic in the 54th minute.
In the 55th minute Isyan Erdogan volleyed just over the crossbar, and in the 60th Buonavoglia made a run on the right but his shot on the right was smothered by Tomich.
Out of the blue Milicic latched on a pass in the 62nd minute and from 25m beat Tomich to make it 3-0. Knights continue on the counter and first Waite hesitated his shot and lost the opportunity and then Sabljak got a shot on target but it deflected for a corner, and Henry Fa'Arodo had a header cleared. It was all in vain, as in the 78th minute Travis Dodd rounded out the night for Parramatta when after lead up work by Lucas Pantellis and a blocked shot from Peter Zorbas he latched onto the rebound to score the 4th.
Parramatta Power stretched its unbeaten run at Parramatta Stadium to 12 months (since losing 4-1 to Newcastle) and 16 matches with the emphatic 4-0 victory and it made seven straight unbeaten games this season.
Best for Parramatta were Gumprecht, Colosimo, Beauchamp, Buonavoglia and Milicic. Best for Melbourne Knights were Waite, Tomich, Leijer, Erdogan.