Sunday, 12 August 2012 10:54 PM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC battled to a 2-2 draw against old rivals Melbourne Knights at Knights Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The result was one that suited neither side, with the Knights needing the three points keep alive their slim finals hopes and with South still sitting a game behind fifth-placed Bentleigh Greens at the conclusion of the round.
South went into the game on the back of a two match winning streak that had lifted it from a potential relegation dogfight into challenging for a spot in the top five. The Melbourne Knights went into the game on the back of a surprise 2-1 loss away against Heidelberg United last Sunday, a result that left the Knights two wins out of the top five. With both sides usually getting a result in their League matches in 2012 (the Knights hadn’t drawn a game all season and South had only drawn three of their 18 games), Sunday’s game was always going to be an attacking game with both sides intent on getting the three points for derby honours as well as putting pressure on the top five standings.
The away side got off to a flying start by opening the scoring after only 90 seconds. Brad Norton won the ball on the halfway line and made a dashing run down the right wing before cutting the ball back for Joe Keenan, who took one touch to set himself up before firing across Aaron Romein and into the far left corner of the goal. South nearly went two goals up when captain Fernando De Moraes was put through on goal but his shot at Romein’s near post was saved comfortably by the Knights goalkeeper. At the other end, Jake Nakic had been causing headaches for the South defence throughout the half and it was he who was on hand to level for the home side, tapping Kayne Vincent’s right-sided cross past Peter Gavalas.
The away side began the second half on a mission to regain the lead but squandered two fantastic chances to do so. The first came when Steve Burton found space down the left wing and used the outside of his right foot to square the ball perfectly for a lurking De Moraes on the penalty spot, however the captain blasted his volley wide of Romein’s goal. Minutes later, Glen Trifiro broke free and streamed forward with Keenan and Andy Vlahos in support. Trifiro fed Keenan through but Keenan was closed down magnificently by the Knights defence as the away side wasted the opportunity. As has been the case all season, the two missed chances came back to haunt South immediately as Rhodri Payne’s scuffed clearance fell perfectly for Nakic to let fly with a vicious shot from near the edge of the box that gave Gavalas no chance.
After working so hard to take the lead, the Knights were dealt with a massive blow only minutes later when a red card was issued to Marijan Cvitkovic for throwing the ball into Payne after a dispute over a throw-in. The decision was extremely harsh for the Knights but a lifeline for South as they chased an equalising goal. South had more luck when man of the match Nakic limped off with about 20 minutes to go with what looked to be a minor knock. With the home side already down to 10 men and with their main man Nakic off injured, the tiring Knights sat back and tried to hit South on the counter-attack, with former South man Yusuf Yusuf using his pace to take on the South defence. South kept the pressure on and eventually won a corner that Kelly smashed home on the volley, after the Knights defence failed to clear De Moraes’ cross. Under-21s player and debutant Baggio Yousif had a wonderful chance to score the winner for South in the third minute of injury time but he blasted well over Romein’s crossbar.
In the end, a draw was a fair result but was one that benefited neither side as the VPL season reaches its concluding month. With four games left, South remain a game from the finals and the Knights remain two games from the top five.
It was another stalemate in the Under-21s as the Melbourne Knights and South drew 1-1.
FINAL SCORE: MELBOURNE KNIGHTS 2-2 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 1-1)
0-1: Joe Keenan (2′)
1-1: Jake Nakic (33′)
2-1: Jake Nakic (55′)
2-2: Shaun Kelly (76′)
1. Aaron ROMEIN (GK), 2. Adam NAKIC, 4. Adam ZILIC, 6. Tomislav USKOK, 8. Craig SWEENEY (3. Ryan FILIPOVIC 79′), 10. Kayne VINCENT, 11. Anthony COLOSIMO, 12. Shayan ALINEJAD (19. Yusuf YUSUF 65′), 16. Marijan CVITKOVIC (sent off 56′), 23. Jake NAKIC (22. Chris TALAJIC 71′), 24. Ben SUREY
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 3. Rhodri PAYNE, 6. Dimi TSIARAS, 7. Joe KEENAN, 10. Glen TRIFIRO (18. Marinos GASPARIS 80′), 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Steve BURTON, 13. Luke BYLES, 14. Andy VLAHOS, 15. Fernando DE MORAES (16. Baggio YOUSIF 88′), 19. Shaun KELLY
SMFC Man of the Match: Shaun Kelly
Venue: Knights Stadium
Date: Sunday 12 August 2012