Stallions v Knights

Round 14 report by Chris Dunkerley
Marconi-Fairfield v Melbourne Knights

In what was a dire game of football the Melbourne Knights belief that they could win and some luck was enough to get them the points, through a 92nd minute goal by substitute Nicholas Marinos.

Marconi Stallions were able to field its strike force of Joe Spiteri and Jeromy Harris, both back from suspension, after they had failed to get goals out of their positive performance against Glory during the week. Melbourne Knights, with their only consistent attacking option Anthony Pelikan out suspended, looked to veteran Kris Trajanovski - plus Isyan Erdogan and Nick Sabljak came in.

The game started quite differently for Marconi than on Wednesday night against Glory with the balls played square, and slow buildup instead of the fast passing game up the middle. This allowed the Knights to get back in numbers and cover any danger. It took Marconi over 50 minute to get a shot on goal.

The first chance fell to the Knights in the 8th minute with Shame Webb losing the ball at the edge of his own goal area the Daniel Vasilevski got a cross over the the right to Kris Trajanovski, but the journeyman striker's header went wide.

In the 20th minute Marconi at last got real numbers into the area but the wiley Knights skipper Andrew Marth was there to boot it to safety.

In the 25th minute Marconi had their first real chance when Nick Carle got space out wide on the left, and from the corner swung in a cross which Jeromy Harris headed over. Two minutes later Simon Bell probably accidently sent a rebound off a firm pass well wide of the goal.

The second half started just as dire as the first had been, with the first action to Nick Carle who from 15m, and after three earlier attempts finally tested Knights 'keeper Vilson Knezevic - who palmed it wide to his left. Carle had none of the service he had in R13 and could not connect well with the 'new' strike force either.

Knights coach Ian Dobson showed he was still wanting a result by bringing on livewire substitute young Nicholas Marinos, who has returned from three years in Greece. His 70th snap shot was a warning to Marconi. Marconi coach Jean-Paul De Marigny brought on U20 international Alex Brosque, only off the plane from the UAE 13 hours before. He immediately put himself about, claiming a penalty which was rightly turned down.

In the 75th minute everyone except Marinos stopped when a hand-ball call came, and he carried on with play, striking a shot which glanced off Simon Bell's head and Michael Turnbull in the Marconi goal just reached.

Neither side looked like they would run away with the game, but it was the Knights who seemed less hesitant in attack. There was little in the way of chances however. You could perhaps count Marinos's 78th minute attempt. From the edge of the goal area it not only cleared the goal, and the netting in the front of the stand, but the stand itself.

Just when we were all lamenting the lack of any real action as the game entered extra time, a long ball was played out from the Knights defence bouncing around, with Angelo Costanzo missing it, and with Luke Casserley not positioning himself well either. Backing himself again Marinos took the ball direct toward goal and from 25m he steered a shot to the left side of goal. The ball moved right just a fraction, enough to knock against the left upright and rebound into the net with Turnbull stranded.

Best for the Stallions were Todd Brodie, Jeromy Harris, Shane Webb, and Nick Carle.

Performing well for the Knights were Andrew Marth, Adrian Leijer, Tomi Razov, Rodrigo Vargas and Antun Kovacic, and of course Nicholas Marinos's erratic but telling contributions.

Knights coach Ian Dobson was upbeat, even recognising where they are on the table, saying the Board undertstood what the season was going to be like with such a young and thin squad. "This was our third game in six games, we travelled back on Thursday and then travelled back again today, and that's an enormous task for part-time footballers". "We defended doggedly ... the aim was to try and keep a clean sheet, and we obviously did that".

"I'm really proud of the boys the way they continued to work, tried to create things, and defended well", said Marconi coach Jean-Paul De Marigny. "First we had to be a competitive squad and while we started extremely well (in the season) we are just finding it hard, you know, in hitting the back of the net", added JP.

It was a deserved win to the Knights who had played three games in 7 days and flown to Sydney twice. Marconi may rue the six (6) lost points this week - as they slipped down the table.