Saturday, 11 July 2009 10:26 PM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC has a firm hold on second spot on the league table after a come-from-behind 1-3 victory over the Richmond Eagles at Kevin Bartlett Reserve on Friday night. The away side played well and deserved victory despite a massive scare near the conclusion of the match.
South went into the match knowing that a victory was paramount in its quest for a top three finish in 2009. A win would keep South in second spot for at least another week, just ahead of a chasing pack in Altona, Hume City, Green Gully and Sunshine George Cross. For Richmond, a win was vital in keeping alive their already slim finals hopes, with the Eagles sitting 9 points behind fifth position.
South began the match strongly, with Joseph Youssef missing a glorious chance early on to open the scoring. A cross from Fernando De Moraes was not cleared by the Eagles defence and fell to Youssef, who skied his volleyed attempt with only goalkeeper Peter Zois to beat.
It was the Eagles that went ahead after being controversially awarded a penalty for an alleged foul by South centre-back Steve O’Dor, who was attempting to shield the ball out of play for a goal kick. From the resultant spot-kick, Tom Milardovic sent Tommi Tomich the wrong way and put the home side ahead.
South looked slightly shaky having gone a goal down, but were soon back to playing their normal attacking game. Youssef teamed up with his fellow midfielder Sebastian Petrovic to carve out the equalising goal for the away side. Youssef managed to find himself space down the left side, with his cut-back ball falling to Petrovic. The hard-working midfielder managed to lob Zois and in the process score his second goal for the season.
Shane Nunes has arguably been the biggest improver for South this season and it was the centre-back that put the Blues ahead before halftime. A free kick taken by Vaughan Coveny was floated into the penalty area, where Nunes snuck in unmarked and hit a perfect left-foot volley past Zois and into the bottom corner. The goal was Nunes’ second for the season and one that gave South a well-deserved lead.
The second half continued in the same fashion as the first, with South creating chances to finish the match off. Richmond had Zois to thank several times for making some excellent saves, including one from a Fernando free kick and one from a Rama Tavsancioglu power shot. Coveny was guilty of not finishing a ball that was squared back to him by substitute Sam Torrens from the left and Fernando wasted a glorious chance by hitting a shot wide of the near post, with Zois beaten.
With the match into injury time, a ball played into the area by Richmond was not cleared by South. The ball fell to Erhan Karahan, whose header towards goal was destined for the top corner before Tomich pulled off an outstanding save to keep his side ahead. The big custodian had to back-track but he managed to do so before tipping the ball out for a corner kick.
South made sure of the three points in the 94th minute, when a pass from Petrovic found Fernando who finally beat Zois to score, despite the Richmond custodian getting his hand on the ball. The goal was Fernando’s sixth for the season and 34th in his South career, making him the ninth highest goal scorer in the club’s history.
South Melbourne FC now has a two point lead in second place. In contrast, Richmond lie in ninth spot on the table with their finals hopes all but over for 2009. South have five hard matches to end the regular home & away season, with big home games against Gully, Hume and George Cross as well as tough away matches against Oakleigh and Altona. The first of these difficult assignments will be against Gully at Bob Jane Stadium next Sunday afternoon. The match kicks off at 4pm.
Richmond Eagles 1 (Milardovic 12’)
South Melbourne 3 (Petrovic 33’, Nunes 38’, De Moraes 94’)
South Melbourne FC line-up:
Tommi Tomich, Shane Nunes, Rhodri Payne, Steve O’Dor, Vaughan Coveny, Joseph Youssef, Francesco Stella (Sam Torrens 67’), Rama Tavsancioglu (C), Fernando De Moraes, Goran Zoric (Yusuf Yusuf 77’), Sebastian Petrovic