Knights edge gallant Ballarat
By Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings_)
A first-half brace to Ivan Grgic has helped Melbourne Knights claim a 4-2 win over Ballarat Red Devils in an entertaining affair at Knights Stadium on Sunday.
Not known for his goalscoring exploits, defender Grgic scored twice late on in the first half to revive the Knights’ stuttering league campaign.
They did it the hard way however with Red Devil Simon Murphy giving the visitors a shock lead in the 29th minute and being back on level terms in the 61st minute through a Shaun Romein penalty, before goals to Daniel Visevic and Shayan Alinejad secured the points.
The day was further soured for the Red Devils with Romein receiving his third red card of the season in the 87th minute for a strong tackle on Ben Surey.
It was a scrappy start to the match with both sides struggling to adapt to the trying conditions.
Both sides looked to attack in the opening 25 minutes of the match but were missing that killer edge.
That all changed just before the half-hour mark when Murphy got on the end of an inch-perfect Daniel Tinker cross to give the visitors the lead.
Murphy still had plenty to do after receiving the cross and did well to fire off the shot to beat Christopher May in goal.
The lead was short-lived however with Grgic benefitting from a goalkeeping howler to level the scores.
Ballarat ‘keeper Jordan Franken couldn’t control a harmless-looking Visevic free kick to give Grgic the easiest of finishes.
Grgic’s goalscoring feats weren’t to end there as he headed home a corner in the 40th minute to give the home side the lead.
Franken redeemed himself in the dying stages of the half with a superb save to deny Grgic his hat-trick.
The Red Devils got back into the game via a Romein penalty when Michael Simms brought down Murphy to have the visitors dreaming of taking points from the game.
Just like in the first half their joy didn’t last long, with Visevic producing a stunning free kick four minutes later to once again give the Knights the lead.
Ballarat battled hard to find another equaliser and was put out of its misery five minutes from time thanks to an Alinejad strike.
Two-goal hero Grgic discussed post-game his delight to contribute to the win.
“Happy with the win, to contribute as well is good, it’s always good to get a win in front of your home fans,” Grgic said.
“It’s always good to get on the end of a couple. We weren’t too happy with the performance, it was a scrappy match and we showed that we fight and we wanted it more, we showed that in the end.
“We knew we had to go hard from the opening whistle. Today wasn’t our best game, we’ve probably played better in a couple of losses. It’s still good to not play that well but get results.”
Despite the loss, Ballarat manager James Robinson saw plenty of positives in the performance.
“It’s a loss, they are never good to take. We take some positives out of it. We had two 16-year-old boys out there today. Our squad was hit hard this week but that’s football, you react to it. One plays 60-odd minutes, the other plays 20 so it’s good for them, good experience for them. We go back to training next week and push forward,”’ Robinson said.
“We always know we are going to create chances, it’s just we concede goals from set pieces. That’s the trouble at the minute. There were some positives and some negatives, it’s just the negatives outweigh the positives at the minute.”
Melbourne Knights 4 (Grgic 35’ 39’, Visevic 64’, Alinejad 84’) Defeated Ballarat 2 (Murphy 29’ Shaun Romein 61’ pen.) at Knights Stadium [HT: 2-1]
Melbourne Knights: Chris May, Michael Simms, Ben Surey, Milan Batur, Tomislav Uskok, Daniel Visevic, Leo Athanasiou, Anthony Colosimo (Sam Torrens 39’), Ivan Grgic, Nikola Srbinovski (Billy Kathopoulis 88’) Shayan Alinejad (Luke Juric 89’)
Unused Subs: Micheal O’Farrell, Anthony Duzel
Yellow cards: Athanasiou 70’
Red Cards: None
Ballarat Red Devils: Jordan Franken, Charles King, Daniel O’Donnell, Steven Thomson, Daniel Tinker, Miles Bauer (Adrian Curtain 57’), Liam Harding (Leighton Parkinson 57’), Michael Trigger, Simon Murphy, Harley Bosher (Simo Mitrovic 72’)
Unused subs: Aaron Romein, Tristan Romein
Yellow cards: Harding 36’, Trigger 62’, King 78’
Red Cards: Shaun Romein 87’
Pictured: Knights defender Ivan Grgic celebrates one of his two goals (Image credit: Melbourne Knights FC)