Monday, 29 April 2013 9:25 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC dropped its first points of the 2013 Victorian Premier League season after being comprehensively defeated 3-0 by the Dandenong Thunder at George Andrews Reserve on Saturday afternoon. An own goal in the first half by Shaun Kelly was followed by late second half goals from Luke Hopper and Nate Foster to confirm a bad day at the office for South Melbourne.
South was confident of at least a draw, having not lost away against the Thunder on four previous visits to George Andrews Reserve and having won its opening three Premier League matches on the road in 2013. The 2012 Premier League and State Knockout Cup Champions had experienced an inconsistent start to 2013 and Peter Tsolakis was looking to further exploit this. However Chris Taylor’s Dandenong side had other ideas.
Both teams began the match with an attacking mindset and the game was under a minute old when Peter Gavalas was called to make his first save of the afternoon. At the other end, former South goalkeeper Zaim Zeneli rushed out to save a Tyson Holmes opportunity for the away side. As the half wore on, the Thunder began to get on top of South’s midfield and their front man Foster caused South’s defence all sorts of problems with his pace and silky skills.
The home side finally got the goal they were after when Kelly attempted to clear Nicholas Epifano’s dangerous low cross across goal but instead found the back of his net. South were extremely lucky not to go into the halftime break 2-0 down when a Foster’s long-range shot took a wicked deflection and rolled wide of Gavalas’ goal, with the goalkeeper completely wrong-footed. The closest South got to levelling was when Holmes put his free header over Zeneli’s crossbar.
Tsolakis’ side started the second half with a bit more energy as it pushed forward to level the scores, however, Dandenong defended superbly and comfortably managed to contain South’s forwards. Anthony Bran in particular was dominant in defence for the Thunder with his aerial dominance. Tsolakis replaced a tiring Joe Keenan with Andrew Cartanos to add bit more pace to the attack, however a minute after doing so the Thunder killed off the game when Hopper rounded his marker at the edge of the area and fired a shot into Gavalas’ bottom right corner of the net.
The experienced pair of Andy Vlahos and Fernando De Moraes were introduced as Tsolakis’ final roll of the dice to hopefully pull a goal back, however it was Foster who finally got his goal four minutes from time to seal his Man of the Match performance. As South pushed forward in search of at least a consolation goal, Foster won possession of the ball on the right side of the box before cutting inside and firing an unstoppable left-footed curling shot past Gavalas.
Tsolakis was naturally disappointed after the match but added that “we came close a couple of times but it didn’t work out… if Tyson had scored that header to make it 1-1 then who knows what would have happened?” He also added that it was a relief to finally have some home matches at Lakeside Stadium to look forward to over the next couple of weeks in both the League and Cup.
It was also a disappointing afternoon for the Under 21s, with Dandenong prevailing 4-2. Trent Rixon played in the first half and scored as Sebit Muon scored South’s other goal after 80 minutes. Tom Matthews played the entire match as both he and Rixon look set to push for Senior selection.
South Melbourne FC would like to thank both the Dandenong Thunder and Football Federation Victoria for facilitating a special SMFC TV live broadcast of the match to our Principal Partner Beachcomber Cafe.
FINAL SCORE: DANDENONG THUNDER 3-0 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 1-0)
1-0: Shaun Kelly own goal (25′)
2-0: Luke Hopper (77′)
3-0: Nate Foster (86′)
1. Zaim ZENELI (GK), 3. Andrew MULLETT, 4. Sakhi FAISAL, 5. Anthony BRAN, 6. Steven TOPALOVIC, 11. Iqbal JAWADI, 12. Tim MALA, 15. Nicholas EPIFANO (8. Matthew THEODORE 66′), 17. Feston AZIZI (14. Zac WALKER 82′), 19. Nate FOSTER (2. Brendan ELMAZOVSKI 89′), 20. Luke HOPPER
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 6. Dimi TSIARAS, 7. Joe KEENAN (20. Andrew CARTANOS 75’), 10. Tyson HOLMES, 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Rhys MEREDITH (14. Andy VLAHOS 78’), 13. Luke BYLES (C), 15. Dimi HATZIMOURATIS, 18. Marinos GASPARIS (8. Fernando DE MORAES 82’), 19. Shaun KELLY, 23. Renco VAN EEKEN
SMFC Man of the Match: Tyson Holmes
Venue: George Andrews Reserve
Date: Saturday 27 April 2013