Monday, 1 August 2011 10:28 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC has edged closer to sealing a finals berth in 2011 after a hard-fought 1-0 away victory against the Dandenong Thunder on Saturday afternoon at George Andrews Reserve. Jesse Krncevic was the match-winner for the away side after scoring a wonderful header just after the half-hour mark to settle what was otherwise a very even match.
The Blues travelled to Dandenong knowing that it had to get all three points in order to keep its finals destiny solely in its own hands, without relying on other teams to do them favours in the final few rounds. Anything less than a victory against Thunder meant South would go into the final game against Northcote City needing to win and relying on other results. It was an even harder equation for the Thunder, who needed to not only defeat South and then Oakleigh in their final two games, but also rely on other results to go their way in order to qualify for finals football.
South started the match strongly and held possession for long periods as it tried to break down the Thunder defence. Krncevic and Steven Weir had some wonderful link-up play whilst Carl Recchia was once again immense at centre-half. The away side finally broke the deadlock just after the half hour when Daniel Vasilevski won the ball outside the area and skipped around his opponent before delivering a perfect cross from the left that resulted in a bullet header by Krncevic into the bottom left corner of Stuart Webster’s goal.
Dandenong immediately lifted following Krncevic’s goal and should have been level almost straight away but for Liam Kearney putting his free back-post header wide of Zaim Zeneli’s goal. Just before the halftime break the home side wasted another great chance when Luke Sherbon hit the crossbar following a scramble in the six-yard area that left him with a clear shot at goal with Zeneli stranded on the ground. However it was not one-way traffic, as at the other end Krncevic nearly doubled South’s lead with an attempted chip over Webster that the Thunder custodian did brilliantly to save.
The second half was dominated by the Thunder, with South happy to soak up the pressure and play a counter-attacking game. Sebastian Petrovic was outstanding in midfield as South held on to its precious slim lead with Dandenong pressuring for an equalising goal. Second half substitution Veton Korcarevski was instrumental in creating many of the home side’s forward moves, as was Kearney who had an excellent match. However despite the possession and pressure by Dandenong, South held firm and gave Zeneli only a few headaches to deal with. Weir should have won the match at the other end when he was through on goal but again Webster saved Thunder with a great block at his near post.
Dandenong had two late chances to draw the match but went agonisingly wide on both occasions. As the game crept towards injury time, a free kick from the left side evaded everyone in a packed penalty area and drifted wide for a goal kick, much to the relief of all the travelling South fans. As the clock ticked into the fourth minute of injury time, Acim Tomic headed another free kick from the left over the bar. The full-time whistle sounded shortly after, officially eliminating Dandenong from the finals race in 2011 but keeping South’s chances alive and in its own hands going into the Club’s final game of the regular season against Northcote City.
In more great news for the Club, the Under 21s defeated Dandenong 2-0 to remain in first place on the Under 21s ladder, one point ahead of second-placed Hume City. Should it defeat Northcote next weekend or match whatever Hume’s result is against the Melbourne Knights, the Under 21s will be crowned back-to-back Champions in what would be a phenomenal achievement for the Club’s up and coming stars.
There are many possibilities for where South can finish on the ladder after next week’s final round of matches, however what is absolutely certain is that the Club will play in the finals as long as it avoids defeat against Northcote City. On the other hand, a loss will condemn the Club to a second straight season without finals football.
The Northcote game will be played at Port Melbourne’s Anderson Reserve and the game kicks off at 15:00 next Sunday 7 August. All Premier League matches will be played at that time so there is no doubt that there will be high drama throughout next Sunday as results filter through during the course of the afternoon.
FINAL SCORE: DANDENONG THUNDER 0-1 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-1)
0-1: Jesse Krncevic (33′)
1. Stuart WEBSTER (GK), 3. Ben HARRISON, 5. Steven GRAY, 7. Scott WEBSTER, 10. Ashley STOTT (9. Veton KORCEREVSKI), 11. Acim TOMIC, 13. Shane REXHEPI, 14. Feston AZIZI (16. Jarryd BARNES), 15. Deniz SABANOVSKI, 17. Liam KEARNEY, 20. Luke SHERBON
South Melbourne FC:
3. Rhodri PAYNE, 4. Steven O’DOR, 5. Daniel VASILEVSKI, 8. Carl RECCHIA, 11. Jesse KRNCEVIC, 15. Fernando DE MORAES (2. Tom MATTHEWS 69’), 16. Trent WATERSON, 17. Steven WEIR (18. Marinos GASPARIS 82’), 20. Daniel DRAGICEVIC (25. Kyle JORYEFF 75’), 21. Zaim ZENELI (GK), 23. Sebastian PETROVIC
SMFC Man of the Match: Sebastian Petrovic
Venue: George Andrews Reserve
Date: Saturday 30 July 2011