South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Late strike denies courageous South

Late strike denies courageous South

Monday, 28 May 2012 10:44 AM

By John Kyrou (Photo by Anita Milas)

South Melbourne FC fought out a spirited 1-1 draw against League leaders Dandenong Thunder on Saturday afternoon at George Andrews Reserve. The result broke Dandenong’s 100% winning start to the 2012 VPL season and at the same time gave South a valuable point leading into a very important month for the Club, with League games against Northcote City (home), Bentleigh Greens (away) and Heidelberg United (home) to come in the coming weeks.

South went into the game in very inconsistent form, with a hard-fought 1-0 away win at Hume City two weekends ago followed by a disappointing 2-1 home loss against derby rival Melbourne Knights last weekend. That left the Club on 10 points from a possible 21 and with the daunting task of travelling to face a team that had won all seven of their opening fixtures in the Premier League. To make matters worse, South’s centre-half pairing of Steven O’Dor (calf) and Luke Byles (broken thumb) were both ruled out, meaning coach Peter Tsolakis was forced to make a makeshift centre-half pairing of Dimi Tsiaras and Swedish player Filip Jonsson, with Rhodri Payne and Bradley Norton as fullbacks. Despite all the problems, South went into the match confident due to the fact that it had not lost a fixture at George Andrews Reserve in three previous visits to the venue.

The first half was a dour struggle, with South restricted to very few chances whilst having to defend strongly as Nate Foster and Shane Rexhepi both went close for the home side. Foster had the best chance of the first half when he beat the offside trap but blasted his shot over Peter Gavalas’ crossbar in what was a golden opportunity. Kyle Joryeff came closest for South, hitting the crossbar from a mis-hit cross that Thunder goalkeeper Stuart Webster was happy to see stay out.

The match sprang to life in the second half as the rain started coming down, making the playing conditions even tougher. South almost opened the scoring on 55 minutes from a Glen Trifiro free kick, however Webster make a fantastic diving save to his left to keep the ball out. Thunder came even closer to opening the scoring just over five minutes later when Luke Sherbon was through one-on-one with Gavalas, however the South goalkeeper showed his quality when he forced Sherbon wide of the goal then made a great save from the eventual shot before Jonsson cleared the ball off the line. South had been under pressure, but the makeshift defence had stood strong and with the score still 0-0, there was always a chance of the away side nicking a priceless goal at the other end.

Joe Keenan replaced Joryeff in the 72nd minute and he made an immediate impact as he was involved in the opening goal less than a minute later. Keenan found Hatzimouratis, who laid the ball wide on the right for Marinos Gasparis to fire in a great cross for a Trent Rixon header that Webster did well to block. Unfortunately for the Dandenong custodian, the ball fell to Hatzimouratis at the edge of the area and the young forward did very well to pick his spot and bury the ball past two Thunder defenders on the goal line and into the bottom left corner. South had stolen an unlikely lead but still had just over a quarter of an hour to hold onto its advantage.

The home side lifted their intensity immediately after conceding and almost equalised straight away but Gavalas made another outstanding save from a Foster shot from point-blank range. Foster may had been wondering whether it would be his day, however he had the last laugh as he got on the end of a long floating free kick to head past an unlucky Gavalas for the equalising goal. Former South man Hamlet Armenian caused South some headaches in the final few moments with some dangerous crosses from the right and he could have won the game for the Thunder but his tame injury-time header was easy pickings for Gavalas, who had produced a Man of the Match performance. In the end the full-time whistle was met with relief from the away side, who had done an excellent job to hold off the fast-finishing Thunder and earn a deserved point.

There was also a draw in the Under-21s game, with Dandenong and South playing out a 0-0 draw.

South hosts Northcote City at Lakeside Stadium next week in a match that South needs to earn maximum points to keep in touch with the top five.


Goal Scorers:
0-1: Dimi Hatzimouratis (73′)
1-1: Nate Foster (84′)

Dandenong Thunder:
Stuart WEBSTER (GK), Andrew MULLETT, Shane REXHEPI, Craig ELVIN, Bryan BRAN, Iqbal KAWADI, Liam KEARNEY, Matthew THEODORE (Hamlet ARMENIAN 84′) , Veton KONCARI (Ross Thompson 75′), Nate FOSTER, Luke SHERBON

South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 3. Rhodri PAYNE, 6. Dimi TSIARAS, 8. Dimi HATZIMOURATIS, 9. Trent RIXON, 10. Glen TRIFIRO, 11. Bradley NORTON, 14. Filip JONSSON, 18. Marinos GASPARIS, 23. Jason TRIFIRO, 25. Kyle JORYEFF (7. Joe KEENAN 72’)

SMFC Man of the Match: Peter Gavalas
Venue: George Andrews Reserve
Date: Saturday 26 May 2012

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