Monday, 6 August 2012 1:54 PM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC has moved to within a game of the top five following a 2-1 victory against Hume City at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening. Goals from Steve Burton and Andy Vlahos early in the second half were enough to earn all three points for the home side, who had to survive a late charge by Hume City following Nick Hegarty’s goal for the away side later in the half.
South came into the game on the back of the amazing come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Southern Stars at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex the previous weekend. With Dimi Tsiaras and Shaun Kelly returning to the starting line-up after serving their one-match suspensions against the Stars, the home side were always confident of getting a positive result. This would have to be done without coach Peter Tsolakis, who was serving the first of his two game touchline ban following his send-off from the sidelines in the game against Richmond on Friday 20 July. Assistant coach Joe Montemurro took the reigns in his place and now currently enjoys a 100% winning record for South Melbourne FC.
Hume City went into the game unbeaten in three matches (including two wins) with the most recent result being the 3-1 home win against Heidelberg United at Epping Stadium the previous Friday night. That win lifted Hume into sixth position on the VPL ladder on 24 points (three points ahead of South), making the game all the more interesting for the neutral observer. Hume was also very keen on inflicting revenge on South after it conceded an 87th minute goal against the Blues at Epping Stadium earlier on this year on Friday 11 May to lose 0-1. On that occasion, captain Steven O’Dor was on hand to flick Glen Trifiro’s cross from the left into the goal for all three points. Unfortunately for South’s captain, his hamstring injury forced him to miss out against Hume this time around.
The first half was a dour struggle as both sides battled in the wet and windy conditions. South came close twice through Bradley Norton and Fernando De Moraes, but on both occasions their headers were easy pickings for Hume goalkeeper Chris Oldfield. Hume themselves came close to scoring right on the halftime break when a stinging shot from outside the area zipped just over Peter Gavalas’ crossbar. A halftime downpour from the heavens above suggested an even bigger struggle for ball control in the second half and that perhaps only a single goal would decide this contest, however this was to be proven wrong immediately.
For the second week in a row, South started the second half with all guns blazing and opened the scoring after only 40 seconds. Rhodri Payne managed to break free past a couple of Hume markers down the left side and cut the ball back for Burton to flick past Oldfield for the opening goal. Hume had had barely enough time to wake up when De Moraes won the ball in midfield and flicked over the top for Vlahos to run onto. With Hume’s defenders backing off, Vlahos was allowed time and space to run all the way into the penalty area before curling a shot around his marker and into the bottom right hand corner of Oldfield’s goal. It was Vlahos’ first goal for South in the Victorian Premier League and his 16th career goal at the Club, having scored fifteen times for South in the old National Soccer League.
The home side had a comfortable lead but was unable to find another way through the tough Hume defence led by former South man Steven Pace. The old saying that a two goal lead was the most dangerous in football looked to be applicable to South when Hegarty won the ball on the left and beat three South players before hitting a fierce low shot into Gavalas’ bottom left corner, with the South custodian rooted to the spot. With just under 20 minutes of play to go and with their lead halved, South suddenly were shocked while Hume came out of their shelves in search of an equalising goal. The away side had a couple of half-chances before Gavalas won the match for South with an outstanding one-handed save from Pace’s chested flick of the ball towards goal from a Hume set piece. Three nervous minutes of injury time were played without any more damage on the scoreboard and the final whistle marked South’s second victory in a row and its march up the League table.
South now go into next Sunday’s derby game against the Melbourne Knights in good form and knowing that a victory at Somers Street could put it level on points with fifth-placed Bentleigh Greens should other results go the Club’s way. A win against the Knights will also make it mathematically impossible for South to be relegated as it will leave the Blues a minimum of 13 points clear of Moreland Zebras (currently second-last) with only four matches remaining after that.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 2-1 HUME CITY (HT: 0-0)
1-0: Steve Burton (46′)
2-0: Andy Vlahos (49′)
2-1: Nick Hegarty (71′)
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 3. Rhodri PAYNE, 5. Phillip PETRESKI, 6. Dimi TSIARAS, 11. Bradley NORTON, 12. Steve BURTON, 13. Luke BYLES, 14. Andy VLAHOS (7. Joe KEENAN 77’), 15. Fernando DE MORAES (10. Glen TRIFIRO 82’), 18. Marinos GASPARIS, 19. Shaun KELLY
Chris OLDFIELD (GK), Jarryd BARNES (Ben HARRISON), Isiyan ERDOGAN, Steven PACE, Serdar PIR, Jose GUERRERO (Richard CARDOZO), Nick HEGARTY, Zoran PETREVSKI, Phillip RICCOBENE, Howard FONDYKE (Ryan BALDACHINO), Mark LEECH
SMFC Man of the Match: Steve Burton
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Sunday 5 August 2012