Knights v Glory

Round 15 report by Eamon Duffy
Melbourne Knights v Perth Glory

Once Bobby Despotovski did not for personal security reasons travel to Melbourne and Damian Mori had to pull out of the team at the last minute, it was always going to be on Nick Mrdja's shoulders as to whether he could respond to the pressure of being a sole striker.

There had been many doubts and doubters leading into the game of the young striker, and he must have been well aware of the pressure he was under. However he responded in magnificent fashion to such an extent that coach Mich dAvray now has a major headache when it comes to picking his team for next weeks blockbuster against the Brisbane Strikers at the Members Equity Stadium.

While Mrdja was the sole striker he was well supported by Pondeljak playing in a more advanced role and Shroj having his best game of the season in midfield.

In fact the entire Glory team played well and it was not until 20 minutes from time that goalkeeper Jason Petkovic had a save to make from a Knights player. He had to be alert earlier to prevent a Brad Hassell headed back pass from entering his net but other than that was untroubled throughout the afternoon.

The game was played in inclement weather with heavy rain at the start of the 2nd half.

The first half though was all about Mrdja's strikes and Shroj's great midfield play. In the 11th minute Hassell found North on the wing and the right backs cross was well headed down by Mrdja and brought a smart save from Knights keeper Knezevic, who somehow got down low to the attempt.

Just 5 minutes later Mrdja gave warning as to what was to follow as he turned sharply from the edge of the box and beat the goalkeeper all ends up, unfortunately for him he had directed the shot just wide of the post.

In the 32nd minute though there was to be no escape for the Knights as once more Mrdja picked up a ball from North and made ground towards the Knights area, as the defence backed off the striker pulled the trigger on one of the goals of the season as the ball sped into the top left corner of the net with Knezevic a mere onlooker.

The rain at the start of the 2nd half slowed the match somewhat and chances were few and far between although Knezevic once more proved his ability with a great save from a Hassell pile driver after 51 minutes.

The Knights then enjoyed their best spell possession wise but only created one chance that Petkovic dealt with from Trajanovski.

With just 16 minutes remaining a long ball from Miller was well read by Mrdja who got between Pantelidis and Knezevic to fire the ball into the net from the edge of the penalty area to give Glory a deserved 2-0 lead.

So ends one of the hardest starts a team could have to a League campaign and at the end of it Perth find themselves in 2nd spot just 4 points behind leaders South Melbourne and with 2 games in hand and 10 home matches to come.