Tuesday, 20 August 2013 9:37 AM
By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC stormed into the top five after defeating the Oakleigh Cannons 1-2 at Jack Edwards Reserve on Sunday afternoon. In testing conditions, centre-forward Trent Rixon’s first half goal and Luke Hopper’s second half penalty was enough for South to get the three points despite Dusan Bosnjak giving the home side a lifeline in the final fifteen minutes. South had their goalkeeper Peter Gavalas to thank for making several outstanding match-winning saves throughout the whole game in what was South’s first away win since the 1-2 win against the Bentleigh Greens on 19 April.
South came into the game having disposed of Hume City 6-1 at Lakeside Stadium last Sunday and Chris Taylor’s side knew that a win against Oakleigh and favourable results in other games would see the Club end the round in the top five. Oakleigh needed a win against South to realistically keep alive its 2013 finals aspirations. Despite having a game in hand, a loss against South would put the Cannons seven points behind fifth spot with only four League matches remaining.
The home side was unable to take advantage of kicking with the wind in the first half and it was South that opened the scoring in the sixteenth minute. Ross Jarvis’ horrible back pass was pounced on by Rixon and he fired a shot over the advancing Lewis Italiano and into the back of the net to make the score 0-1. It could very well have been 0-2 a short while later in almost exactly the same circumstances, when Hayden Doyle’s awful back-pass was intercepted by Nick Epifano, however the winger’s placement was off-target and the ball went out for a goal kick. Oakleigh had two excellent chances to score in the first half, firstly when Goran Zoric was put through one-on-one but had his shot blocked by Gavalas and secondly when Dusan Bosnjak’s shot beat Gavalas but not the far post as South went into the sheds at halftime with the lead.
Gavalas was at his brilliant best early in the second half when he made another one-on-one save, this time gloving Doyle’s shot over the crossbar. Only minutes later, Oakleigh charged forward again and Gavalas made a double-save before Tim Mala cleared the ball off the line. The danger was still not over yet and again Gavalas was called upon, this time to save from Zoric. The home side were still wondering how they had not equalised when South went down to the other end of the field and won a penalty. Luke Hopper cut into the box from the left side and was adjudged by the referee to have been fouled in the area by Steven Gray. Hopper stepped up and coolly slotted the penalty away for a remarkable fifth goal in four games for the Club. Rixon had worked hard all game and was nearly rewarded with a second goal after being put through one-on-one with Italiano but the Oakleigh goalkeeper managed to get a touch and deflect the ball out for a corner.
Just when South looked like it would comfortably see out the rest of the game, it failed to clear an Oakleigh corner and the resultant goalmouth scramble saw Bosnjak poke home to halve the deficit and ensure the final fifteen minutes would be extremely uncomfortable for the away side. Despite a few difficult moments, including five minutes of injury time played by the referee, South had done enough to win the three points and jump Hume City and Green Gully into fifth spot on the VPL ladder. Post-game, Taylor was delighted with the victory but remained realistic. “There is no room for error…we’ve got to keep winning. It’s a case of grinding away because we’ve got teams around us who have got games in hand.” When asked about the failure to keep a clean sheet again, Taylor was – unlike the previous week – not as fussed. “I thought Gavalas was outstanding today…he kept us in the game at times and did what he had to do.”
In the Under-21s, Oakleigh took the lead before a double from Baggio Yousif put South 2-1 up; however a late goal by Oakleigh saw the game end 2-2.
South has a big week this week, starting with the State Knockout Cup Semi Final against Green Gully at Anderson Reserve (Port Melbourne) on Wednesday night at 7:30PM before another important League match against Pascoe Vale at Lakeside Stadium at 5PM on Sunday. Another victory on Sunday will consolidate South’s spot in the top five and give it three League wins in a row.
FINAL SCORE: OAKLEIGH CANNONS 1-2 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-1)
0-1: Trent Rixon (16′)
0-2: Luke Hopper (64’pk)
1-2: Dusan Bosnjak (74′)
Key Stats (provided by Steven Orchard):
Shots: Oakleigh (12) – South Melbourne (18)
Saves: Oakleigh (6) – South Melbourne (6)
Turn Overs: Oakleigh (74) – South Melbourne (61)
Balls into Area: Oakleigh (23) – South Melbourne (40)
Clearances: Oakleigh (12) – South Melbourne (21)
Lewis ITALIANO (GK), Casper ANDERSEN, Jamie CUMMING (C), Steven GRAY (Laurent CORALIE 68’), Andrew MULLETT, Hayden DOYLE (John McLEAN 65’ [Jesse KRNCEVIC 76’]), Ross JARVIS, Evan CHRISTODOULOU, Goran ZORIC, Alex SMITH, Dusan BOSNJAK
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Bryan BRAN, 5. Nick EPIFANO (12. Rhys MEREDITH 85′), 7. Luke HOPPER (16. Alan KEARNEY 67′), 9. Trent RIXON, 10. Tyson HOLMES, 11. Brad NORTON (C), 13. Iqi JAWADI, 17. Nick SOOLSMA (18. Jonathan MUNOZ 90+1′), 19. Shaun KELLY
SMFC Man of the Match: Peter Gavalas
Venue: Jack Edwards Reserve
Date: Sunday 18 August 2013