Saturday, 21 April 2012 9:58 PM
By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC played out a frustrating 1-1 draw against the Richmond Eagles at Kevin Bartlett Reserve on Friday night. The result was one that the away side would not have been pleased about after Richmond played with ten men for an hour and finished the game with only nine men following two send-offs during the match.
South went into the match on the back of a thoroughly disappointing 3-1 loss away to Green Gully the previous Saturday, with striker Trent Rixon sustaining a groin injury in the process. Rixon had been doubtful during the week for the Richmond game but ended up playing. In contrast, Richmond went into the game on the back of two successive victories having defeated Bentleigh Greens 2-0 at home before winning 1-0 away against Heidelberg United.
From kick-off there were signs that the referee would have a busy night as Richmond set about firmly shutting South’s ball-playing style down by constantly fouling the away side. The home side successfully managed to pressure South in the early stages of the match in the hope of forcing them to make a mistake. This pressure paid off in the 12th minute when Fernando De Moraes uncharacteristically passed the ball straight to Richmond’s Josh Kweifio-Okai, who hit a thundering shot from outside the area that Peter Gavalas got a hand to but couldn’t keep out. The Eagles almost doubled their lead moments later when a fantastic cross from the left resulted in a header that flew wide of Gavalas’ goal. South had been sloppy with their build-up play but managed to create a decent opening shortly after, when De Moraes found space outside the area and fired a quick shot that Richmond keeper Stjepan Gal managed to parry out for a corner. Joe Keenan also went close with a thunderous strike from outside the area that just went over Gal’s crossbar.
The turning point of the match came after half an hour. Former Richmond man Dimi Tsiaras was fouled in the middle of the park and after some words were exchanged, Michael Ferrante grabbed Jason Trifiro by the throat and threw him to the ground, sparking a mini melee between many of the players on both teams. Once order had been restored, the referee cautioned Trifiro before sending Ferrante off for violent conduct. This infuriated Richmond coach Michael Chatzirifonos, who also found himself sent from the field by the referee. To add further insult to the home side, Rixon equalised shortly before halftime when he got on the end of a clever cross by Bradley Norton and comfortably headed the ball across Gal and into the corner of the goal.
The second half was all South, as the away side took complete control of the game but could not find a way past a stubborn Richmond defence that was determined to hold on for a point. In fact the Eagles could have taken the lead but had a goal disallowed for offside in the 50th minute. Rixon and Trifiro had great chances to head South into the lead but both times Gal intervened with some excellent saves in what was probably a man of the match performance by the Richmond custodian. South enjoyed a wealth of possession and had some good build-up play from the back but unfortunately lacked the final killer touch to bury the Eagles. Richmond went down to nine men in the 88th minute when Liam Cannell was sent off for a second bookable offence. Despite the five minutes of added time, South were not able to break the resolute Eagles defence and the final whistle was met with loud cheers by the home supporters as their team gallantly held on for a well-earnt point.
In the Under 21s match, South came from a goal down to draw 2-2 thanks to a late penalty.
South has a week’s break from VPL action as it, along with the other VPL sides, enters the Fourth Round of the State Knockout Cup. South has been drawn to play against Malvern City of State League Two, with the match kicking off at Northcote City’s John Cain Memorial Park at 12:30PM next Sunday 29 April. This game is the first in a double-header at the ground that afternoon, with Northcote City hosting Morwell Pegasus at 3:00PM.
FINAL SCORE: RICHMOND EAGLES 1-1 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 1-1)
1-0: Josh Kweifio-Okai (12′)
1-1: Trent Rixon (42′)
1. Stjepan GAL (GK), 2. Andrew VIOLA, 3. Erhan KARAHAN, 5. Liam CANNELL, 6. Tom MILARDOVIC, 7. Timmy PURCELL, 8. Steven TOPALOVIC, 14. Daniel VISEVIC, 17. Josh KWEIFIO-OKAI, 18. Michael FERRANTE, 23. Scott MUIRHEAD
Subs: 9. Michael CATALANO, 10. Nick MARINOS, 12. Devon BONNE, 11. Mate ETEROVIC, 24. Michael FARNHAM
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 2. Tom MATTHEWS (3. Rhodri PAYNE 50′), 4. Steven O’DOR, 6. Dimi TSIARAS, 7. Joe KEENAN, 9. Trent RIXON, 10. Glen TRIFIRO, 11. Brad NORTON, 13. Luke BYLES, 15. Fernando DE MORAES (8. Dimi HATZIMOURATIS 80′), 23. Jason TRIFIRO (18. Marinos GASPARIS 69′)
SMFC Man of the Match: Joe Keenan
Venue: Kevin Bartlett Reserve
Date: Friday 20 April 2012