Sunday, 13 February 2011 9:57 PM
By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC won the Hellenic Cup for the third time in five seasons after defeating Heidelberg United 2-1 in extra time on Saturday evening. Despite going a goal down early in the match, South rallied to send the match into extra time before a magnificent Marinos Gasparis goal won the match and the Cup for South at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex.
Eddie Krncevic fielded a strong line-up against a Heidelberg side that provided South with a tough and physical match against Premier League opposition prior to the commencement of the Victorian Premier League. Stefaan Sardelic started in goal, with his defence comprising Rhodri Payne, Steven O’Dor, Steven Topalovic and Sebastian Petrovic. In the midfield was Carl Recchia, Fernando De Moraes, Daniel Vasilevski and Marinos Gasparis, with Jesse Krncevic and Kyle Joryeff up front.
Heidelberg started the match well as South took a long time to settle into the game. The majority of chances fell to Heidelberg in the first half and they were rewarded for their efforts when Osagie Ederaro beat several South defenders, cut in from the left and slotted past Sardelic to open the scoring. South stepped up a gear and almost equalised straight away when a beautiful move on the right culminated in a cross to the back post for De Moraes to sky his shot over the bar. Eventually South did level however, when Joryeff dispossessed his opponent with a clean tackle and sent a low cross from the right to the back post for Krncevic to fire into the roof of the net.
The second half was mostly South, with Heidelberg needing some excellent defending to keep the scores level. Craig Elvin was unbeatable at centre-half, whilst goalkeeper Griffin McMaster pulled off the save of the match at his near post to deny Gasparis a tap-in. However it was not all one-way traffic, as South needed a clearance off the line by Payne and a wonderful block by Sardelic to deny Heidelberg the lead again. Whilst Heidelberg were always dangerous going forward with Ederaro, it was always South that looked the more likely to score again. However both sides remained level as the referee blew for full time.
South remained on top during extra time and Gasparis was finally able to beat McMaster when he expertly chipped him from the edge of the box on the right hand side. Despite a few nervous moments, South managed to hold onto its 2-1 lead to win what is hoped to be the first piece of silverware in 2011. Most importantly, South showed they were able to compete reasonably well with tough Premier League opposition, as Heidelberg were in the top five in 2010 and have also enjoyed great results against South recently. In somewhat of a consolation to the Bergers, Ederaro was given Man of the Match for his efforts up front.
There were a few worrying signs for South, with Vasilevski and Krncevic both going off the field for treatment. Krncevic’s injury looked quite minor but Vasilevski was unsure of the diagnosis of his injury, however it is expected that both should be fine for the first Victorian Premier League fixture next weekend.
South begins its 2011 Victorian Premier League season by hosting reigning champions Green Gully at John Cain Memorial Park next Sunday evening. Kick-off is at 5:00pm.
FINAL SCORE (AET): SOUTH MELBOURNE 2-1 HEIDELBERG UNITED (HT/FT: 1-1)
South Melbourne FC Line-up:
Stefaan Sardelic, Rhodri Payne, Steven O’Dor, Steven Topalovic, Sebastian Petrovic, Carl Recchia, Daniel Vasilevski (Jake Van Der May), Fernando De Moraes, Marinos Gasparis (James Riccobene), Kyle Joryeff, Jesse Krncevic (Nick Jacobs)