Monday, 9 July 2012 9:02 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC turned its 2012 Victorian Premier League fortunes around thanks to a thoroughly deserved 2-1 victory against the Oakleigh Cannons at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday night. A wonderful free kick in the first half by Glen Trifiro and a second half goal by man of the match Dimi Tsiaras saw off the Cannons in style.
Following a very inconsistent first half of the season, South took advantage of the mid-season transfer window to add some quality to the side. Football West Gold Medal winner Steve Burton, previously of Balcatta SC in Perth, started up front with Trent Rixon and had an immediate impact by creating and almost finishing several chances against Oakleigh. His presence up front allowed some pressure off Rixon, who also played well despite also not scoring. South old boy Andy Vlahos arrived during the week for a second stint at Lakeside Stadium and he started the Oakleigh game on the bench before coming on in the 83rd minute.
South began the match inspired and deservedly took the lead in the 13th minute. A free kick was won thirty yards from goal and Glen Trifiro stepped up to curl a wonderful shot beyond Lewis Italiano in the Oakleigh goal, sending the home fans into raptures. It was the first time that South had opened the scoring in a League game since Dimi Hatzimouratis scored against Dandenong Thunder in the 1-1 draw at George Andrews Reserve on 26 May. Glen Trifiro almost turned from scorer to provider when he got behind the Cannons defence and pulled the ball across for Burton on the six yard box but Italiano made a great block to deny Burton a debut goal. Italiano then made another block at his near post to prevent Jason Trifiro from scoring. Oakleigh had claims for a penalty when Ricky Diaco went down in the penalty area after a foul by Tom Matthews, however the referee waved play on. Diaco also had a free kick saved by Gavalas as South went into the halftime break with a deserved 1-0 lead.
The home side continued the onslaught after the halftime break and should have been 2-0 ahead after only 45 seconds but Rixon blasted a shot over the bar. Jason Trifiro then hit a stinging shot from outside the area that smashed the post and stayed out. South finally had a second goal just after the hour mark when Glen Trifiro’s corner fell to an unmarked Tsiaras at the back post to prod past a helpless Italiano. The Cannons custodian was the sole reason the away side didn’t concede a third goal only a minute later when he saved Burton’s goal-bound shot after the South striker found himself one-on-one and hit his shot at the top right corner of the goal. South should have been at least four goals ahead by the time Oakleigh found their consolation goal only a minute before the end, when Ricky Diaco’s free kick took a deflection off Tom Matthews and wrong-footed Gavalas. There were some nervy moments in the three minutes of added time but South held on for a thoroughly deserved victory.
The three points lifts South into seventh place and more importantly places the Club four points from third-placed Green Gully (who South play next Sunday) and only a point from fifth-placed Bentleigh Greens. South has now gone on a three-game unbeaten run and the team is looking more steady defensively whilst also looking much more dangerous going forward.
The Under-21s result was exactly the same as the Seniors game, with South taking a 2-0 lead before Oakleigh scored a late goal to make the end result 2-1. One of South’s goals was from a terrific overhead kick from youngster Anthony Giannopoulos.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 2-1 OAKLEIGH CANNONS (HT: 1-1)
1-0: Glen Trifiro (13′)
2-0: Dimi Tsiaras (62′)
2-1: Ricky Diaco (89′)
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 2. Tom MATTHEWS, 4. Steven O’DOR, 6. Dimi TSIARAS, 9. Trent RIXON (15. Fernando DE MORAES 80’), 10. Glen TRIFIRO (14. Andy VLAHOS 83’), 11. Bradley NORTON, 12. Steve BURTON, 13. Luke BYLES, 18. Marinos GASPARIS (7. Joe KEENAN 80’), 23. Jason TRIFIRO
Lewis ITALIANO (GK), Aristidis DRAKOS, Jeremy WALKER, James CUMMINGS, Samuel MITCHINSON, Luke WALKER, Hayden DOYLE, Goran ZORIC (Evan CHRISTODOULOU 65’), Ricky DIACO, Jesse KRNCEVIC, Zac WALKER
SMFC Man of the Match: Dimi Tsiaras
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Sunday 8 July 2012