Tuesday, 11 June 2013 11:49 AM
By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC progressed to the Quarter Finals of the 2013 State Knockout Cup after defeating fellow Victorian Premier League side Northcote City 3-2 in extra time at Lakeside Stadium on Queen’s Birthday Monday. With the match 1-2 in Northcote’s favour, substitute Andy Vlahos’ late header sent the game into extra time before Brad Norton’s thrilling run and goal sent South through.
Both sides won their fourth round Cup matches albeit in different circumstances. Northcote progressed having defeated State League One side Moreland Zebras 2-1 at Reddish Reserve on Saturday 4 May. South was scheduled to play the Oakleigh Cannons on the same day; however the Cannons forfeited and South were awarded a 3-0 victory to progress to the next round. Goran Lozanovski’s Northcote went into the game as the best team in the state, having won seven and drawn one of their opening eight VPL games in 2013 plus having won their fourth round Cup game. Northcote had also won every single away match in 2013 whilst South had won every home match, so something had to give in Monday’s game.
After a sluggish opening, the match was brought to life when Milos Lujic elbowed South centre-half Shaun Kelly and escaped only with a yellow card when on another day the card may have been a different colour. Kelly was eventually substituted and replaced by Matko Budimir after needing stitches in his head as a result of the elbow by Lujic. The away side continued with their physical game and this resulted in Evan Kounavelis seeing a straight red shortly before the half-hour mark for a behind the ball incident, which saw Alan Kearney also sent off after allegedly retaliating. Video replays may show that Kearney ’s dismissal was possibly a bit harsh. With both sides down to 10 men, it was Northcote who opened the scoring after 36 minutes when James Kalifatidis’ dangerous low cross was tapped home at the back post by Lujic.
South coach Peter Tsolakis changed tactics in the second half and replaced Trent Rixon with Vlahos, who immediately went about causing problems for Northcote’s defence. South equalised in style when Meredith collected the ball on the right before cutting inside and firing a beautiful curling shot across Frazer Siddall and into the back of the net. Tsolakis then introduced Fernando De Moraes as the South veteran ran amock in midfield. The home side looked more likely to score the winning goal but it was Northcote who scored next, when South goalkeeper Peter Gavalas’ attempted pass to Tom Matthews went straight to Kalifatidis, who walked the ball into the open goal. Despite the mistake, South continued to press hard for a deserved equaliser and they got it in the 89th minute as Vlahos headed home Marinos Gasparis’ cross to send the game into extra time.
Brad Norton won the match for South in the first period of extra time, when he played a one-two with Dimi Hatzimouratis before firing past Siddall with a vicious shot that rocketed into the top of the net. Norton joked afterwards that “I just closed my eyes, shot the ball and hoped for the best” in what was an excellent strike that was worthy of winning a thrilling Cup game. Gavalas then made amends for his earlier mistake with an excellent save from Dean Piemonte’s goal-bound strike, tipped the ball out for a corner kick. Tsolakis then introduced lifelong South fan and Under-21s player Anthony Giannopoulos for his senior debut for the Club in the 108th minute. With an extra goal and the extra man after the sending off of Piemonte, South saw the match out and ensured progression to the Quarter Finals, whilst at the same time inflicting Northcote’s first loss in League and Cup this season.
South’s next opponent in the State Knockout Cup is State League 2 North-West side Preston Lions, with the match to be scheduled some time between Wednesday 23 July and Thursday 31 July. South resumes Victorian Premier League commitments on the weekend when it hosts the Melbourne Knights in a huge derby match at Lakeside Stadium. Kickoff is at 3pm this Sunday 16 June.
FINAL SCORE (AFTER EXTRA TIME): SOUTH MELBOURNE 3-2 NORTHCOTE CITY (HT: 0-1, FT: 2-2)
0-1: Milos Lujic (36′)
1-1: Rhys Meredith (63′)
1-2: James Kalifatidis (84′)
2-2: Andy Vlahos (89′)
3-2: Brad Norton (93′)
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 2. Tom MATTHEWS, 6. Dimi TSIARAS, 9. Trent RIXON (14. Andy VLAHOS 53′), 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Rhys MEREDITH, 15. Dimi HATZIMOURATIS, 16. Alan KEARNEY (sent off 28′), 18. Marinos GASPARIS (5. Anthony GIANNOPOULOS 108′), 19. Shaun KELLY (25. Matko BUDIMIR 30′), 20. Andrew CARTANOS (8. Fernando DE MORAES 77′)
Northcote City :
1. Frazer SIDDALL (GK), 2. Adrian CHIAPPETTA, 4. Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS (19. Steven SIFINOS), 5. Nick TZOULIS (21. Chris OGHANNA), 6. Bonel OBRADOVIC (16. Nick TEREZAKIS), 7. Evan KOUNAVELIS (sent off 28′), 8. James KALIFATIDIS, 9. Milos LUJIC (15. Wade DEKKER), 11. Dean PIEMONTE (sent off 118′), 18. Michael EAGER, 23. Rashid MAHAZI
SMFC Man of the Match: Andy Vlahos
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Monday 10 June 2013