South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

South storm into Hellenic Cup Final

South storm into Hellenic Cup Final

Sunday, 15 February 2009 10:17 PM

By John Kyrou | Photo by Paul Touliatos

South Melbourne FC has progressed through to the final of the 2009 Hellenic Cup after a thrilling 3-2 victory against the Oakleigh Cannons on Saturday afternoon at the Kingston Heath Soccer Complex.

The two sides had met in successive Hellenic Cup finals in recent years of competition, with one win apiece. In 2006, Oakleigh defeated South 2-0 in the final at Port Melbourne’s Anderson Reserve. South took revenge the following year at Northcote City’s John Cain Reserve, beating Oakleigh 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at the end of regular and extra time. With promotion to the final giving the winner the chance to win the $10,000 prize money on offer, the game was always going to be very closely fought.

South began the match strongly and had several half chances to take the lead. Midway through the first half, Fernando De Moraes opened the scoring with a goal of class that gave supporters hope that the Futsalroo was back to achieving his devastating 2006 form. After receiving the ball on the edge of the area, De Moraes rounded an opponent before firing an excellent shot across Oakleigh goalkeeper Adrian Cagalj, and into the far corner of the net.

Returning legend Vaughan Coveny had been working extremely hard up forward in the hot conditions, and his job had been made more difficult when partner Nathan Caldwell was badly injured thanks to a strong tackle by former South player Robert Wynne. Rama Tavsancioglu had shown his usual outstanding commitment and good form during the game, and it was his excellent ball to Coveny that put the former Kiwi international through on goal. Coveny showed his class by easily lobbing the ball over the advancing Cagalj and into the empty net to put South 2-0 up.

However disaster struck shortly after Coveny’s goal, when a soft cross from the right by Oakleigh was unfortunately deflected into South keeper Tomi Tommich’s goal by Shane Nunes. Minutes later, Oakleigh were on level terms after South fell asleep at the back, allowing for an easy header to be put past Tommich to give the Cannons an undeserved equalising goal.

South continued to press forward to try and snatch a winning goal. Oakleigh began to get into the game, creating half chances for themselves but most were comfortably dealt with by the South defence. Despite chances for both sides, the regular time ended with the scores locked at 2-2. Two extra time periods of 10 minutes each were played and again both sides went close to scoring. South had Tommich to thank for a few excellent saves while at the other end Petrovich went close with a long distance shot.

With one minute remaining, Coveny proved to be the match-winner, after the match seemed to be heading for a penalty shootout. The ball was played into a crowded penalty area but somehow found its way to the big Kiwi, whose first-time shot flew into the bottom right corner of the goal, giving him a double for the afternoon. Oakleigh pressed forward for one final opportunity, but Tommich made an outstanding one-on-one save to ensure South would progress through to the final.

The final will be played next Saturday 21st February at Northcote City’s John Cain Reserve. A win for South will give the club its third Hellenic Cup championship, after beating Yarraville Glory in 1984 and the 2007 triumph against the Cannons.

South’s Record in Hellenic Cup finals:
1984: SMFC 2-0 Yarraville Glory
1986: Northcote City 3-1 SMFC
2000: Yarraville Glory 1-1 SMFC Youth (2-1 AET)
2003: Bentleigh Greens 1-0 SMFC
2006: Oakleigh Cannons 2-0 SMFC
2007: SMFC 1-1 Oakleigh Cannons (4-2p)

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