Monday, 30 July 2012 10:42 AM
South Melbourne FC scored two goals in second half injury time to record a thrilling 3-2 victory against Southern Stars on Saturday night at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex. The victory was all the more incredible considering the way the side had been decimated with injuries and suspensions in the week leading up to the game.
South came into the game on the back of two horrible home defeats against Green Gully and Richmond. This left the Club in 10th position on the Victorian Premier League ladder, five points from the top five but also seven points from the relegation zone. This meant that while South could still aim for finals, it had to start picking up points to erase the slight possibility of relegation. With Southern Stars only two points ahead of South going into the game following a 2-2 draw at Heidelberg last weekend, it presented the Blues with a great opportunity to jump up the ladder. However South was missing several players such as Tom Matthews (serving the second of his four game suspension), Trent Rixon (12 game suspension that will be heard at the Tribunal this week), Shaun Kelly (1 week suspension), DImi Tsiaras (1 week suspension) plus the long-term injury to Dimi Hatzimouratis and the 2-3 week injury sustained by captain Steven O’Dor last week.
The first half was an ordinary one for South as the makeshift three-man defence of Rhodri Payne, Luke Byles and Brad Norton struggled to contain the Stars’ runs down the flanks. The Stars took the lead in the 10th minute when Nick Harrhy was put through on goal and he rounded Peter Gavalas before placing the ball into the back of the net as the South defence continued to appeal for offside. South was reduced to only a handful of half-chances in the first half and was unable to capitalise. Fernando De Moraes’ curling shot forced a sharp save from Frazer Siddal before the Futsalroo danced through the Stars midfield before firing a shot that went just wide of Siddal’s goal on the stroke of halftime.
The away side came out inspired in the second half and levelled the scoring after just 45 seconds, when Phil Petreski’s cross from the left was deflected in for an own goal by Luke Fitzpatrick. De Moraes and Marinos Gasparis more than doubled their first half work-rate and were involved in everything as South poured forward in search of a second goal. On the hour Joe Keenan was replaced by youngster Nick Jacobs, who made his first League appearance in 2012 and only his second appearance since the Statewide Knockout Cup match against Malvern City on 29 April.
Shortly after Jacobs’ arrival on the park, Gasparis skipped past his Stars marker before firing in a cross from the right that found an unmarked Steve Burton at the top of the six yard box, but the striker failed to connect with the header at all as South missed a golden opportunity to go 2-1 up. As has happened all season, that miss proved to be costly barely a minute later when Stars ventured down the other end and scored with their first genuine chance of the half. Again it was Harrhy that was the goal scorer as he beat the offside trap for a second time before finishing neatly past Gavalas’ near post.
South heads may have dropped at that point but the team kept pushing for an equalising goal. Gasparis had been exceptional but was cramping up and he was duly substituted as young Andrew Cartanos made his debut for the Club. With five minutes remaining, a De Moraes cross from the right was met powerfully by Jacobs but Siddal made an outstanding fingertip save to deny the youngster a headed goal. With the match into the first minute of injury time and with the away side wondering what it had to do to score again, Rhodri Payne’s shot from outside the area fell to Burton with his back to goal. The striker’s quick turn and left foot shot rocketed past Siddal, bounced off the right post and went into the back of the net for a deserved equaliser.
Stars won a free kick in a dangerous position from kickoff but failed to capitalise as South won possession in the 94th minute and poured forward again. The youngsters were the heroes for the away side, as Cartanos linked up with Petreski who took on and beat his marker before firing in a cross from the left. Siddal did well to block Burton’s shot on goal but could only parry the ball into the path of the incoming Jacobs, who had the easy task of heading the ball into the empty net to send the away bench and the away supporters wild on the far side of the ground. South had conjured up one of the great escapes with a threadbare squad and in the process kept its finals chances well and truly alive.
It was another high-scoring affair in the Under-21s, as South defeated Southern Stars 3-2. South had a 2-0 lead erased before finding the winning goal in the final 10 minutes.
With six games remaining, South sits four points from fifth placed Northcote City. South now has a wonderful opportunity to close this gap even further with a home game against Hume City next Sunday afternoon at Lakeside Stadium at 5:00PM.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTHERN STARS 2-3 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 1-0)
1-0: Nick Harrhy (10′)
1-1: Luke Fitzpatrick OG (46′)
2-1: Nick Harrhy (67′)
2-2: Steve Burton (90+1′)
2-3: Nick Jacobs (90+4′)
Southern Stars: Frazer SIDDAL (GK), Ryan DARRAGH, John FITZGERALD, Luke FITZPATRICK, Kieran FITZGERALD, Alan MULCAHY, Alan KEARNEY, Josh WOOD, David STIRTON, Liam MCCORMACK, Nicholas HARRHY
South Melbourne FC: 1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 3. Rhodri PAYNE, 5. Phillip PETRESKI, 7. Joe KEENAN (24. Nick JACOBS 62’), 10. Glen TRIFIRO, 11. Bradley NORTON, 12. Steve BURTON, 13. Luke BYLES, 14. Andy VLAHOS, 15. Fernando DE MORAES, 18. Marinos GASPARIS (20. Andrew CARTANOS 85’)
SMFC Man of the Match: Fernando De Moraes
Venue: Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
Date: Saturday 28 July 2012