Sunday, 16 May 2010 10:13 PM
By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC consolidated its position in the top four of the Victorian Premier League with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Sunshine George Cross on Sunday afternoon at John Cain Memorial Park. The win has come at exactly the right time following two consecutive League defeats and in the final League game before the squad flies to Singapore to face Gombak United in the first round of the 2010 RHB Singapore Cup.
South started the match very positively and was unlucky not to open the scoring in the opening stages of the first half. Gianni De Nittis had a goal-bound header saved magnificently by George Cross goalkeeper Martin John. Moments later, a Rhodri Payne cut-back from the left found De Nittis unmarked at the back post. With John scrambling across his goal to block, De Nittis went for power instead of placement and his shot flew over the bar.
Despite these misses, it was only a matter of time before the home side opened the scoring and South eventually did so just before halftime. Marinos Gasparis received the ball at the edge of the box on the left side of the field and his excellent first touch set him up to hit a curling shot across John’s goal and into the top far corner. The goal was just reward for the home side, who had played excellent football in the first half but had not been rewarded on the score board up until that point.
After the break, South continued to enjoy large amounts of possession but could not score a second goal to kill the game off. With twenty minutes to go, the lead was doubled when South broke up a Sunshine move forward and counter-attacked swiftly. Fernando De Moraes fed Joe Keenan with a delightful through-ball and the Englishman calmly placed the ball past John for his second League goal this season as well as the second goal for the match.
With a two goal lead established, many thought the afternoon’s work was done and that South would see the game through comfortably. However Sunshine’s intensity picked up immediately following Keenan’s goal and the away side pulled a goal back only minutes later to set up a tense finish. Stuart Nicholson won possession in midfield and he took on the entire South defence as he charged into the area before shooting the ball past Peter Zois, eliminating the South goalkeeper’s attempts for a clean sheet.
South were still in control of the match but needed a third goal to ensure the three points. South continued counter-attacking magnificently but could not convert a series of excellent chances created. With the match into injury time and with the home fans urging the referee to blow the final whistle, South finally made sure of the points when substitute Yusuf Yusuf scored his first League goal for 2010 when he finished off a shot that was teed up for him by hitting the ball across John and into the far corner.
With the Gombak United match on Wednesday week, South Melbourne FC has moved next week’s match against Altona Magic (initially scheduled for May 23) to July 4 and the following week’s match against Bentleigh Greens (initially May 28) to June 11. However the team has a practice match against NTC this Wednesday night at Darebin’s DISC pitch 3 before the squad flies out to Singapore next Monday evening.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 3-1 SUNSHINE GEORGE CROSS (HT: 1-0)
Peter Zois, Rhodri Payne, Steve O’Dor, Eddie Cetkin, Joe Keenan (Sebastian Petrovic 80′), Carl Recchia, Gianni De Nittis (Yusuf Yusuf 69′), Rama Tavsancioglu, Joseph Youssef, Marinos Gasparis, Fernando De Moraes
(Scorers: Marinos Gasparis 44′, Joe Keenan 70′, Yusuf Yusuf 90′)
Sunshine George Cross:
Martin John, Matthew Cini, Fidell Richards, Andrew Nabbout, Christos Konstas, Douglas Cameron, Stuart Nicholson, Evan Christodoulou, Ben Cogger, Barry Devlin, David Calleja
(Scorer: Stuart Nicholson 74′)
SMFC Man of the Match: Marinos Gasparis
Venue: John Cain Memorial Park
Date: Sunday 16 May 2010