GREEN GULLY rained on the Melbourne Knights' reunion parade and ended a three-game winless run with a dour 1-0 victory over its local rival.
The Gully, who welcomed back former coach Ian Dobson as a technical director at the club, held on to the three points they failed to keep last week, again profiting from a Jonathan Munoz goal.
The winger scored the only goal of a poor game after being put through by striker Mathew Sanders.
It looks as though the struggling Knights will be forced into a relegation battle, but will welcome back prodigal son Danny Tiatto, who has signed on for the remainder of the season after his guest stint earlier this year.
The Cavaliers welcomed back Joshua Groenewald from injury, with out-of-form midfielder Graham Hockless dropping to the bench and Dean Fak dropping out of the squad.
For the home side, star striker Jean-Charles Dubois was out suspended, replaced by influential winger Kevin Townson.
Ivan Grgic dropped out of the squad for Damien Gleize.
It was a sluggish start to the encounter with an overhead kick from Gazmend Ajdini the only shot on goal in the opening exchanges.
The visitors were getting the better of the midfield early and creating plenty of space on the right flank.
The game lacked intensity and possession was regularly wasted between two teams fighting to keep their finals hopes alive.
It was the Knights who were beginning to get on top and the lively Townson hit his 30-yard free kick directly at Nikola Roganovic.
A corner from Liam Cannell opened up a header for Anthony Bran, but the big defender put his effort well wide.
Midfielder Ben Surey played Townson through on the left soon after and his cross that was aimed for Ajdini forced a last-ditch clearance from Daniel Jones.
On the half hour, speedy midfielder Adrian Zahra put a long-range effort wide.
Moments later, Roganovic turned a shot from Ajdini around his post as the Knights began to pile on the pressure.
The visitors had their best chance of the half late on.
Mile Medjedovic played a long ball into the penalty area with Sanders striking from the edge of the box and forcing a parry from Antony Loncaric in the Knights goal.
It fell for Andy Vargas but his reflex effort went well wide.
The second half began the same as the first with both teams lacking any real intensity or endeavour.
But Cavaliers coach Paul Harris made what were two valuable substitutions 10 minutes in, bringing on Hockless and Gary Wales.
Surey and Zahra were still linking well in the middle of the park and the latter had another shot on goal on the hour mark.
He overlapped Ajdini and powered a strike directly at Roganovic.
The inclusion of Hockless looked as though it would prove fruitful for the visitors as he showed his class in the middle of the park.
And with 20 minutes to go, the Cavaliers took the lead.
The relatively quiet Sanders picked up a loose ball 30 yards from goal and cleverly held it up around three Knights defenders.
Munoz made the run on the left and received the pass before hitting a low right-footed shot into the corner of Loncaric's net from just inside the area.
It could have been two but Vargas could only put his back-post header wide after a cross from Sanders.
Gully almost punished itself in the 80th minute.
A cross from Cannell forced confusion between Roganovic and Ryan Ollerton, with the latter clearing the ball high into the air and towards his own goal.
Substitute Jacob Colosimo got to it first but his header from a tight angle went over the bar.
The same man kept Roganovic on his toes two minutes later when he sent a stinging volley from the edge of the area directly at the Gully custodian who would hold onto his clean sheet.
A vital win for Gully and a decisive loss for the struggling Knights - leaving one still playing for a finals spot and the other set to fight to remain in the top flight.