Knights v Souths

Round 20 report by Alan Clark
Melbourne Knights v South Melbourne

Melbourne Knights reversed an early season loss against South with an emphatic four-nil win last Friday evening in front of Knights' best home attendance of the season.

The Knights victory put a solid full-stop to a remarkable run of 16 consecutive South matches without defeat.

The swashbuckling manner of the Knights' victory allowed the team to put last week's loss to Wollongong Wolves behind them, and surely shook South, so dominant last week against Marconi. The form-book was unequivocally rent asunder, such was the Knights approach to the contest.

"Look - you don't need much motivation when you play South Melbourne," said Knights' coach Vlado Vanis.

"We've played them 47 times I think, and beaten them only in ten. When I was a Knights' player, I can't remember (ever winning) four-nil."

"Full credit to the Knights," said South coach Mickey Petersen after the game. "They played us off the park. They were by far the better team tonight. Our winning streak (was brought) to and end by a very good team performance by the Knights."

Knights' ascendancy was confirmed in a devastating three minute spell before the mid-point of the first half had even been reached.

Toto Da Costa opened the scoring when he outpaced Steve Iosifidis from the halfway line to a through-ball, then sent a left-foot shot low past Michael Petkovic.

Petkovic was brought into action almost immediately after when he made a brave save close-in to block a Da Costa shot after another lightning Knights raid. Da Costa's game however was soon to end following an injury to his neck which required his attendance at hospital as a precautionary measure.

But the respite was short-lived. Scarcely a minute later, Knights increased its lead, this time when Adrian Cervinski out-jumped Iosifidis and looped a header over Petkovic who had left his line for the cross.

And Knights' fans could hardly believe it when the lead was again stretched barely a minute after that. This time it was Joel Porter with a right foot screamer from the edge of the penalty-area.

"I took a risk and went with three up front," said Vanis. "And every one of them scored today."

By now the previously solid South defence was looking decidedly threadbare, being broken down - seemingly without resistance - by successive Knights' forays.

Despite his key role in the South corner, even Petersen was marvelling at the Knights standard of play. "I tend to be a little of a supporter as well as a coach. I enjoyed the Knights' performance. It was a great performance by them."

"We'll win like men, and we'll lose like men."

"For us in Melbourne, it's great. I really hope that we'll have two representative teams battling it out in the Finals."

South had two late chances of the half when either of them would have offered at least the prospect of a fightback. Vaughan Coveny's header from a Goran Lozanovski free-kick cross brought out a fine save from the otherwise under-employed Lupce Acevski in the Knights goal. And well into first-half added time, Steve Panopoulos bravely won a header under a stiff challenge at the edge of the Knights' penalty-area where it fell neatly to Coveny with Aceski exposed. Coveny's shot was extravagantly wide, when it might have been simpler to score.

If South coach Mickey Petersen sent his charges out for the second-half with a revised game plan, it was to no avail. Lupo Lapsansky smashed home a fourth shortly after the re-start. It followed good work from Porter up the left who sent in a cross then laid off to Lapsansky at the edge of the area by Anthony Pelikan.

Iosifidis had been substituted for Simon Colosimo at the break, with the aim being for the South playmaker to drive a revival from a deep position. But despite a few deft touches from the Socceroo, his influence was minimal, and insufficient to wrest control of the game from a rampant Knights.

The margin of victory was not overstated. Knights could well have converted more of their abundant opportunities, and were they to have done so, the scoreline still would not have flattered.