Monday, 27 August 2012 9:54 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC kept its 2012 finals chances alive when it defeated Northcote City for the first time in Victorian Premier League competition on Sunday afternoon at John Cain Memorial Park. Steve Burton was the match winner for the away side by scoring the only goal of the game after 74 minutes to keep South in touch with Northcote and Hume City in the chase for fifth spot and a place in the finals this season.
South went into Sunday’s game knowing that anything less than a victory would basically end any chance of playing finals in 2012. History also was against South due to the fact that South had never beaten Northcote in their previous five League meetings, with the corresponding fixture last year ending in a 5-0 victory for Northcote. However the motivating factor for Peter Tsolakis’ South side was that three points would move South to within two points of fifth-placed Northcote with two matches to play.
The away side began the game well and enjoyed a period of extended possession but were only able to create one clear-cut chance, when captain Fernando De Moraes blasted over Chris Petropoulos’ bar after being brilliantly set up by Burton’s back-heel. Northcote’s attacking players had been well contained by a South defence led by centre-halves Luke Byles and Shaun Kelly but as the half went on became more and more dangerous. The home side had two great chances to score shortly before the halftime break, firstly when Milos Lujic shot over the crossbar and secondly when Adrian Chiappetta’s flick beat Peter Gavalas but sailed harmlessly over the bar.
South were let off the hook again early in the second half when Alex Rojas blasted over the bar after the defence failed to clear the danger and then on the hour mark Joe Keenan headed a Kristian Konstantinidis goal-bound header off the goal line to keep the score at 0-0. Despite Northcote’s chances, South always looked dangerous on the break and actually put the ball in the back of the net on 65 minutes but had the goal disallowed for offside. Burton’s strike from outside the area could only be parried by Petropoulos into the path of the advancing Brad Norton who slotted past him, however the linesman on the near side had already lifted his flag for offside. Norton had another great chance to put South ahead but was forced to shoot on his non-preferred right foot and shot well over Petropoulos’ goal.
Eventually the away side got the goal it had been craving for and it was a wonderful team goal. Norton put Rhodri Payne through down the left side and the wing-back got past his marker before hitting a wonderful low cross for Burton to flick past Petropoulos. Tsolakis immediately introduced Andy Vlahos to the game and the veteran almost made an impact straight away but he missed a sitter following some great lead-up play by youngster Andrew Cartanos on the right side. Northcote had one final chance for an equalising goal but Gavalas stood firm and earnt only his third clean sheet of the season as South hung on for three valuable points.
The result means that South has moved up to seventh spot, level with sixth-placed Hume City but with a two goal inferior goal difference. South is now just two points behind fifth-placed Northcote but has a two goal better goal difference than Northcote, who have a difficult end to the season with games against Oakleigh Cannons (2nd place) and Green Gully (4th place). South needs to win its final two games of the season against Bentleigh (Sunday 9 September) and Heidelberg (Sunday 16 September) and rely on Northcote and Hume slipping up somewhere in order to jump into fifth spot.
It was bad news for the Under-21s, as South were defeated 3-1 by Northcote City.
FINAL SCORE: NORTHCOTE CITY 0-1 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-0)
0-1: Steve Burton (74′)
Chris PETROPOULOS, Adrian CHIAPPETTA, Paul SAVIO, Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS, Bonel OBRADOVIC (Ricardo GONZALEZ), Dean PIEMONTE, Alex ROJAS, Parys OKAI, Milos LUJIC, James KALIFATIDIS (Michael CATALANO), Hayden D’AGOSTINO
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 2. Tom MATTHEWS, 3. Rhodri PAYNE (14. Andy VLAHOS 78’), 6. Dimi TSIARAS, 7. Joe KEENAN, 10. Glen TRIFIRO, 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Steve BURTON, 13. Luke BYLES, 15. Fernando DE MORAES (25. Baggio YOUSIF 88’), 19. Shaun KELLY (20. Andrew CARTANOS 46’)
SMFC Man of the Match: Steve Burton
Venue: John Cain Memorial Park
Date: Sunday 26 August 2012