Monday, 12 December 2011 6:27 PM
Football finally returned to Lakeside Stadium on Sunday afternoon when South Melbourne FC were defeated 3-2 by New South Wales Premier League champions Sydney Olympic in an exhibition match in front of over 4,000 spectators. Whilst the final result was disappointing, the more important aspect of the day was showcasing the new facilities and all aspects of the Club to supporters and the wider Victorian football community.
Coach Peter Tsolakis could not have wished for a better start when the home side went 1-0 up in the first 32 seconds of the game through a wonderfully taken shot by Jason Trifiro on his debut for the Club. Fellow debutant Trent Rixon almost put South 2-0 up after being sent through on goal but he put his shot narrowly wide of the target. Olympic equalised on 22 minutes following some good lead-up play on the left side which culminated in the ball being cut-back for a tap-in. Olympic then took the lead on 32 minutes with a header from a corner. In the second half, Rixon scored past Olympic goalkeeper Paul Henderson scoring his first goal for South before Olympic won the match on 78 minutes following a well-taken free kick from just outside the area.
The result was not ideal but it was highly ironic for two reasons. The first reason was that Sydney Olympic had failed to defeat South in many contests between the two sides over the years at Lakeside Stadium. The second reason was that in the first ever match played at Lakeside (on 26 November 1995) Frank Arok’s South Melbourne side also lost 3-2, on that occasion to West Adelaide Hellas. Coach Tsolakis would not have been worried about the result as the side performed well despite not having had many training sessions together as a squad prior to the game. In addition, senior players such as Fernando De Moraes, Rhodri Payne and Marinos Gasparis did not play, with many younger players including goalkeeper George Malliaras being given the opportunity to showcase their talent. The players will now rest over Christmas and the New Year and will begin pre-season training early in 2012.