BALLARAT Red Devils have slumped to their seventh loss of the National Premier Leagues Victoria season.
A vastly understrength McDonalds Reds outfit was handed a 4-2 defeat by Melbourne Knights at the Knights Stadium in round 12 action on Saturday.
The visitors, featuring two debutantes in Simo Mitrovic and Leighton Parkinson, started the match strongly but played themselves out it in the second half with structural and discipline issues.
Red Devil Simon Murphy opened Ballarat’s account when he got past the Knights’ keeper following a superb 20-metre cross from Daniel Tinker at the 29-minute mark.
Ballarat’s in-form keeper, Jordan Franken, made an uncharacteristic mistake fewer than five minutes later when he dropped a standard free kick, allowing dangerous forward Ivan Grgic to score an equaliser.
Grgic proved to be the difference between the sides in a dour opening half.
His second came by way of a header from a corner at the 39-minute mark, before almost sealing a hat trick two minutes later, only to be thwarted by a brilliant Franken save.
The Reds began the second half with intent that yielded a successful Shaun Romein penalty at the 60th minute mark, but faded badly in the final 30 minutes.
Man of the match Daniel Visevic curled a miracle free kick in soon after Romein’s goal, effectively ending the Red Devils hopes.
The loss was soured by Romein’s third red card of the season, one minute before Shayan Alinejad put the match beyond doubt 85 minutes in.
Ballarat Red Devils player-manager James Robinson was understandably disappointed with the result of a game that he said earlier in the week was “worth six points”.
“We always know we are going to create chances. It’s just (that) we concede goals from set pieces. That’s the trouble at the minute,”
Robinson said after the match.
“We had two 16-year-old boys.
“Our squad was hit hard this week but that’s football. You react to it.”
Robinson lamented his team’s inability to defend opposition set play and hinted that Ballarat would be active in the transfer window.
“There will be movements. It’s the nature of the beast,” he said.
“We’ve been hit with injuries, people leaving, this that and the other. It’s coming up to that time when we get some new blood in.”
The Reds now have a run of six straight home games, starting with form team Oakleigh Cannons next Saturday.