Sunday, 14 March 2010 2:25 PM
By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
Click here to view the photos from the Northcote City & South Melbourne FC clash
The first ever League meeting between Northcote City and South Melbourne FC saw the away side gallantly fight back from a 3-1 deficit to draw 3-3 at John Cain Reserve on Saturday afternoon. South has now drawn all three of its VPL matches in 2010.
South travelled to Northcote with the good news that Carl Recchia was available for selection. Recchia played a full match as Yusuf Yusuf, Fernando De Moraes and Eddie Cetkin all made it into the starting eleven for the first time in 2010. The back four received a makeover following the late withdrawals of Rhodri Payne and James Stefanou, both through injury.
Despite starting very slowly, South took the lead in the opening quarter of an hour of the match. De Moraes won the ball from a throw-in and his quick turn and shot from distance gave Northcote goalkeeper Chris Petropoulos no chance. Following the goal, South had several chances to double the advantage but was wasteful with poor shooting.
Northcote, using the match to celebrate its 50th anniversary, had looked dangerous from the kick-off and had nearly opened the scoring with a thunderbolt from Trent Rixon that struck the crossbar. Despite being a goal down, the home side did not stop attacking and were rewarded with a goal in the 27th minute. The ball was floated into the area, where Rixon headed it back for Nick Tzoulis to volley from near the edge of the area, restoring parity to the score line.
The goal inspired Northcote, who were keen on a positive result following two unfortunate 2-1 defeats in their first two matches this season. South seemed rattled, and had Zois to thank for keeping them level by producing a string of excellent saves. Northcote took the lead five minutes before halftime, when Rixon found space on the left side and fired into the roof of the net. South went down the other end immediately and nearly equalised but Stiven Mrkela blasted his shot over the cross bar instead.
By now South were looking shaky and were no doubt looking forward to the halftime break to re-group. However worse was to come, as right on halftime Rixon scored his second for the afternoon after being played through one-on-one with Zois following an excellent through-ball by veteran George Papadopoulos. Rixon kept his cool and slotted the ball home to give Northcote a 3-1 lead over a shocked South.
Into the second half, Joseph Youssef came on to replace De Nittis, while Sasha Vranesevic replaced Yusuf Yusuf. The move almost paid off right away, with Youssef putting a header over the bar before missing a one-on-one attempt minutes later. A goal looked imminent and it arrived in the 63rd minute, when Daniel Vasilevski scored from near the edge of the area after being cleverly set up for a shot.
The goal sparked a sense of urgency back into the game as the away side suddenly were back on top of their opponents. Sebastian Petrovic was brought on to replace Marinos Gasparis as South began to win the midfield battle. The defence lifted as well and looked much more organised than in the first half, with Zois continuing his superb match by claiming every ball played into his area and making important saves. This included a class save when he tipped a goal-bound effort over his near post that would have killed off South’s comeback attempt had he not intervened.
With so much pressure now on Northcote’s defence, the home side were happy to hold out whilst trying to catch South on the counter attack. However the relentless South pressure finally paid off with ten minutes remaining, when Vasilevski snuck in unmarked at the far post to calmly score and send the South fans wild in the grandstand. South were now on fire and nearly had a fourth but for Petropoulos making a vital block from a scrambled shot inside the area.
The full time whistle signalled the end of an entertaining end-to-end match that gave Northcote its first point for 2010 and also kept South unbeaten in the VPL. Despite the battle that took place on the field, the two clubs maintained their mutual respect off the pitch. Pre-game, Northcote honoured South’s title as the Oceania Team of the Century whilst South presented Northcote with a plaque congratulating the club on its 50th year anniversary in the social club post-game.
South Melbourne FC’s next match is against Green Gully at Bob Jane Stadium next Sunday. The match kicks off at 5pm.
FINAL SCORE: NORTHCOTE CITY 3-3 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 3-1)
Northcote City: Chris Petropoulos, Hayden D’Agostino, Adriano Chiappetta, George Papadopoulos, Bradley Norton, Harry Kinigopoulos, John Theofilopoulos, Nick Tzoulis (Jonathan Voulgaris 70’), Nicholas Curtis, Trent Rixon (James Kalifatidis 73’), Ahmet Turer (Marco Rosano 77’)
(Scorers: Nick Tzoulis 27’, Trent Rixon 40’, 45’)
South Melbourne: Peter Zois, Rama Tavsancioglu, Eddie Cetkin, Steve O’Dor, Stiven Mrkela, Carl Recchia, Fernando De Moraes, Marinos Gasparis (Sebastian Petrovic 70’), Daniel Vasilevski, Yusuf Yusuf (Sasha Vranesevic 60’), Gianni De Nittis (Joseph Youssef 55’)
(Scorers: Fernando De Moraes 11’, Daniel Vasilevski 63’, 80’)
SMFC Man of the Match: Daniel Vasilevski
Venue: John Cain Reserve
Date: Saturday 13th March 2010