Monday, 26 August 2013 2:46 PM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC consolidated its spot in the top five with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Pascoe Vale at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening. Goals from Nick Soolsma, Luke Hopper and Trent Rixon were enough to defeat a spirited Pascoe Vale side who had actually led 1-2 thanks to a well-taken goal from Luca Santilli and a penalty from Michael Ferrante.
South came into the match knowing that a victory would consolidate fifth spot and put it within two points of third-placed Port Melbourne. Pascoe Vale knew that a victory at Lakeside Stadium would put it nine points clear of the relegation zone with three rounds to go, although second-last Richmond has a game in hand. Having drawn 0-0 at Hosken Reserve earlier on in the season on 1 June, there was certainly a lot to play for this time around.
The home side opened the scoring after only six minutes, when Nick Epifano’s cross from the left was headed past Stefaan Sardelic by Soolsma. It was the perfect start for South and many expected them to go on and win the game comfortably, however it was the visitors who scored only minutes later when Santilli expertly headed past Peter Gavalas to make the score 1-1. Tyson Holmes knew he was in for a frustrating evening when he almost put South back into the lead with a fierce shot that hit the post before he handballed in the area and presented Pascoe Vale with the opportunity to take the lead. Michael Ferrante stepped up and coolly put his spot kick past Gavalas to give Pascoe Vale the advantage. Just as the away side was starting to look dangerous, South equalised when Soolsma played a low ball into the box for Hopper to gain control before turning his marker and firing past Sardelic to make the score 2-2. The former South goalkeeper prevented the home side from re-taking the lead just before the halftime break when he tipped Rixon’s fierce shot over his crossbar.
The game was decided early in the second half when some Soolsma magic on the right side resulted in him losing his marker before sending in an inch-perfect cross for Rixon to head past Sardelic. Rixon has now scored four goals in his last three League matches and Hopper has now scored a staggering six goals from five League matches for South. More importantly, on the day it gave South a 3-2 lead that it was to keep for the remainder of the match. Pascoe Vale went close to levelling again however the home side had done enough to win the game, as things were made even worse for Pascoe Vale when Tomi Milardovic committed a clumsy foul on Hopper before back-chatting to the referee and getting himself sent off after 88 minutes.
South’s victory keeps Chris Taylor’s side in fifth spot on 31 points and with a goal difference of +7. South are three points ahead of Green Gully (28 points, +4 goal difference plus they have a game in hand) and Hume City (28 points, -12 goal difference). South is level on points with fourth-placed Bentleigh Greens but the Greens hold fourth spot because of their superior goal difference (+12). Crucially, South are only two points behind third-placed Port Melbourne (33 points, +7 goal difference) and Bentleigh play Port Melbourne in the next round of matches. South will travel to Somers Street next Sunday for what promises to be a mouth-watering derby against the second-placed Melbourne Knights, knowing that if it defeats the Knights and Bentleigh and Port draw their match, South will end Round 20 in third spot on the ladder.
The news was not as good in the Under-21s as Pascoe Vale defeated South 0-2.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 3-2 PASCOE VALE (HT: 2-2)
1-0: Nick Soolsma (6′)
1-1: Luca Santilli (8′)
1-2: Michael Ferrante (18′ pk)
2-2: Luke Hopper (30′)
3-2: Trent Rixon (53′)
Key Stats (provided by Steven Orchard): Shots: South Melbourne (18) – Pascoe Vale (8)
On Target: South Melbourne (10) – Pascoe Vale (5)
Off Target: South Melbourne (8) – Pascoe Vale (3)
Turn Overs: South Melbourne (39) – Pascoe Vale (67)
Balls Into Area: South Melbourne (56) – Pascoe Vale (23)
Clearances: South Melbourne (15) – Pascoe Vale (32)
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Bryan BRAN, 5. Nick EPIFANO, 7. Luke HOPPER, 9. Trent RIXON, 10. Tyson HOLMES (16. Alan KEARNEY 90+1′), 11. Brad NORTON (C), 13, Iqi JAWADI, 17. Nick SOOLSMA, 19. Shaun KELLY
1. Stefaan SARDELIC (GK), 2. Adrian TALARICO, 3. Frank SERRATORE, 4. Tomislav MILARDOVIC, 5. Ross HARVEY, 6. Robert DI VITO (20. Hernan ESPINDOLA 83′), 7. Luca SANTILLI, 8. Joseph YOUSEFF, 9. Luis COVARRUBIAS (18. Matthew LAZARIDES 64′), 15. Mark PISTININZI (16. Marco SANTILLI 90′), 21. Michael FERRANTE
SMFC Man of the Match: Nick Soolsma
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Sunday 25 August 2013