South Melbourne FC’s penalty shootout victory was anything but a ‘smooth entry’ into the next round of the FFA Cup, but nevertheless the Greek-based side managed to defeat local rivals Melbourne Knights FC 1-1 (4-1).
The Melbourne rivalry stems back to the days of the NSL and is the longest running rivalry for both clubs, with the Knights having played South Melbourne more times than any other club. South Melbourne currently sit on top of the NPL Victoria table, with the Knights four points behind them in 4th.
South Melbourne’s forward Harrison Sawyer looked the danger man in the first half, with two heading opportunities scraping over the top of the bar in the opening quarter of the hour.
Both sides holding up well defensively, the first half ended with no goals and no sign of worry for South Melbourne.
Not even 10 minutes into the second half, Knights’ Ayden Brice managed to make connection with the ball from a corner and send it into the back of the net. The defence visibly unable to defend against Knights’ set pieces, goalkeeper Pierce Clark prevented a second goal by parrying the strong header over the bar.
A one-on-one attack on the other end of the pitch almost saw Sawyer level up the game, but was denied from a save by Thomas Manos.
As all hope seemed lost, a desperate attack from a free kick in the 93rd minute of the match saw Sawyer taken down in the box. A penalty given to Marco Jankovic, the defender hits it home to send the match into extra time.
South Melbourne came out strong in extra time, using the wings to get around the Knights’ strong defence. A shot from South was cleared off the line after squeezing past Manos, denying yet another game-winning opportunity for the Greek-based side.
Deadlocked after extra time, the match moved onto penalties where Melbourne Knights had a devastating performance, following their strong in-game performance.
A missed penalty and expert save from Clark saw South Melbourne win 4-1 on penalties and proceed through the next stage of the FFA Cup.