Monday, 14 October 2013 2:13 PM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC’s 2013 season came to a disappointing end when it was defeated 5-0 by Northcote City in the Preliminary Final at SS Anderson Reserve on Sunday afternoon. A double from Milos Lujic and goals from James Kalifatidis and Evan Kounavelis – plus a controversial own goal given against Peter Gavalas – completed what was a miserable afternoon played in miserable conditions.
South came into the game on the back of consecutive 1-0 victories in both the Elimination Final and Minor Semi Final, whereas Northcote came into the match having lost 2-1 in extra time against the Bentleigh Greens in last weekend’s Major Semi Final. That gave the Greens a direct passage to next Saturday’s Grand Final and Northcote the right to use its double-chance in the game against South. Goran Lozanovski’s Northcote had been the most consistent team in 2013 and as a result won the Minor Premiership, so to bow out of the finals in straight sets was something they were not prepared to accept.
In wet and windy conditions at SS Anderson Reserve, Northcote put early pressure on South and opened the scoring after only five minutes. Former South player Marinos Gasparis fired in an excellent cross from a free kick on the right for Kalifatidis to head past Gavalas, the first time the South goalkeeper’s goal had been breached since – ironically – the League match against Northcote at Lakeside Stadium on Saturday 14 September. Northcote doubled their lead just after the half-hour in controversial circumstances, as Gavalas looked to have been pushed over the goal line by Lujic as he was catching Gasparis’ overhead shot; however referee Shaun Evans allowed the goal. South had a great chance to pull a goal back just before the halftime break after Tyson Holmes found some space in the box, however he did not get a proper connection to the ball and Northcote goalkeeper Chris Petropoulos pushed away the eventual shot for a corner.
Chris Taylor’s side began the second half more positively with more pressure on the Northcote defence but they were unable to breach Petropoulos’ goal. The sucker-punch third goal arrived against the run of play on 55 minutes when Lujic followed through to head home after Kalifatidis’ initial shot was saved by Gavalas. Things went from bad to worse five minutes later when the South defence mis-read Petropoulos’ long ball forward and allowed the ball to bounce over them for Kounavelis to slip in behind and tuck the ball past Gavalas. The rout was completed after 78 minutes when Lujic scored his second of the afternoon after playing a one-two with Gasparis before firing past a helpless Gavalas. South tried hard but it was never going to be their day as the effects and luck of the previous few weeks had finally caught up to them.
Post-match, Taylor was disappointed how “a few things went against us in the first half” but was proud of how his team had risen to an eventual third-placed finish after a horrible mid-season slump that saw the departure of former coach Peter Tsolakis as well as several players. Sunday’s result also proved how difficult it is to win the Championship without the benefit of a double-chance that comes by finishing in the top three at the end of the regular season, which is exactly where Taylor and his side will be looking to finish in 2014.
FINAL SCORE: NORTHCOTE CITY 5-0 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 2-0)
1-0: James Kalifatidis (5′)
2-0: Peter Gavalas Own Goal (31′)
3-0: Milos Lujic (55′)
4-0: Evan Kounavelis (60′)
5-0: Milos Lujic (78′)
22. Chris PETROPOULOS (GK), 2. Adrian CHIAPPETTA, 4. Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS, 6. Bonel OBRADOVIC, 8. James KALIFATIDIS, 9. Milos LUJIC, 10. Alex ROJAS (14. Michael CATALANO 68’), 12. Hayden D’AGOSTINO (5. Nick TZOULIS 57’), 17. Marinos GASPARIS, 18. Michael EAGER (Rylan SADLER 82’), 20. Evan KOUNAVELIS
South Melbourne FC:
1. Peter GAVALAS (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Bryan BRAN, 5. Nick EPIFANO (12. Rhys MEREDITH 57′), 7. Luke HOPPER, 9. Trent RIXON (C), 10. Tyson HOLMES, 13. Iqi JAWADI, 16. Alan KEARNEY (11. Brad NORTON 57′), 17. Nick SOOLSMA, 19. Shaun KELLY
SMFC Man of the Match: Iqi Jawadi
Venue: SS Anderson Reserve
Date: Sunday 13 October 2013