A dominant display from UWA wasn't enough to take all three points, as Western Knights SC fought back from a 2-1 deficit at half time to share the points in the Western suburbs derby at UWA Sports Park.
The match promised to provide an even encounter as both teams headed into the fixture with a single point from their first two games. Both sides were hungry for a win and it was Western Knights who started the strongest. Adriano Jelenovic was proving a handful for the UWA defence as the Knights tried to focus their attacks around their main man.
The Knights pressure was starting to build and on the quarter hour mark they had their first clear opportunity. Play broke down the left flank and a brilliant cut back found Knights’ captain Paul Lloyd on the edge of the box; however, the influential captain was unable to steer his effort on goal, missing to the right.
The resulting goal kick brought about the first goal of the game. UWA didn’t attack the second ball well and the Knights were able to play the ball into the feet of Jelenovic. A silky turn by Jelenovic left Michael Vlasich dead in his tracks and the Knights’ forward made no mistake sliding the ball into the bottom corner to give the Knights the lead.
The lead would be short lived as UWA responded almost instantaneously. Conor Devlin picked the ball up in the middle of the park and played a deep ball into the path of fullback Tristan Taylor. Taylor delivered his cross first time and picked out Devlin, who had continued his run. A great first touch by Devlin gave him space to curl the ball into the top corner, leaving Knights’ keeper Sam Stone with no chance.
UWA had the ascendency and made it two in quick succession when Alex Kretowicz got on the scoresheet Andrew Xydas’ corner was met by Joshua Marocchi on the back post who headed it back across goals. The return ball called chaos for the Knights’ defence and Kretowicz found himself unmarked within six yards, poking the ball home for the easiest of finishes.
The Knights needed a response and they almost found it through the feet of Lloyd. Excellent footwork from the Knights’ captain gave himself enough space to curl an effort on goal from the edge of the box. However, UWA goalkeeper Ranjeet Singh was equal to the task and produced a fine save to ensure UWA went into halftime with a 2-1 lead.
The Knights came out much stronger in the second half but UWA were equal to the task, soaking up the pressure well and threatening Western Knights on the break. Despite most of the play being played in their forward half, the Knights struggled to create any clear cut opportunities in the first half hour.
At the other end, UWA had good chances to increase their lead through Kretowicz and Prout, but solid defending from the Knights' back four kept UWA at bay.
UWA appeared to be on top of proceedings, but with fifteen minutes to go, an optimistic through ball caused mayhem for the UWA defence. Poor communication between Marocchi and Singh allowed Lloyd to steal the ball from between them and pass it into an open net to equalise for the Knights.
UWA rallied for the final minutes in the search of a winner, with the best chance falling to Vlasich. The centre back’s free kick had Stone beaten; however, it couldn’t dip enough in time and it rattled the crossbar.
The result sees UWA continue their positive stretch of results and move up to 8th, whilst the Knights are just behind in 9th place.
UWA will face Shamrock Rovers next weekend at UWA Sports Park. The game provides a great opportunity for UWA to climb the ladder with Rovers only two points ahead of them.
UWA Nedlands FC – 2 (Devlin, Kretowicz)
Western Knights SC – 2 (Jelenovic, Lloyd)
In other results, despite leading 3-2 at half time, the Reserves couldn’t hold on against a strong finishing Knights, who prevailed 7-3. Kamando Sikazwe scored a brace whilst Mordecai Appiah chipped in with one from a fantastic solo effort. Similarly, the 18’s lost 5-4 in a game that went right down to the wire.