By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC defeated Sunshine George Cross 1-0 in their Fourth Round Dockerty Cup tie at Chaplin Reserve on Saturday to progress in the competition. The away side won through to the Fifth Round thanks to a Jamie Reed penalty, following a moment of madness by the Sunshine goalkeeper Robert Santilli that resulted in the spot kick being awarded.
South travelled to Chaplin Reserve to play a competitive match against George Cross for the first time since the two sides drew there 1-1 in the Victorian Premier League on Sunday 17 May 2009. George Cross were relegated in 2010 (they played South at Knights Stadium that year), were in State League 1 from 2011-2013 and are now in NPL 1. Despite currently being a division below South in League status, they had the home advantage in this Dockerty Cup tie and looked to frustrate South by scoring a quick goal on the break to progress at South’s expense.
Due to the poor condition of the Chaplin Reserve pitch, the match was largely uneventful. Defenders Andrew Mullett and James Musa both made their debuts for South by starting the match, whilst youngster Kobbie Boahene made his debut by coming off the bench late in the match. South put the ball in the back of the net in the first half however the goal was disallowed due to a foul committed in the build-up. Nick Epifano had the next best chance after making a dangerous run down the left side before cutting in and shooting but the shot was comfortably saved by Santilli in the George Cross goal.
In the second half, Taylor replaced Leigh Minopoulos with Milos Lujic, as South looked to add more of a physical presence up front. South should have scored following another wonderful run and cross down the left by Epifano but Mathew Theodore blasted the ball over Santilli’s crossbar. Substitute Brad Norton then gave the ball away cheaply to Sunshine and the home side had a great chance themselves to open the scoring but the eventual shot was dragged wide of Jason Saldaris’ goal without troubling the South goalkeeper. Santilli then made a smart save from a Lujic header following an excellent cross by Reed that found the centre-forward at the back post.
The match was decided in controversial and bizarre circumstances. Following an injury to one of their players, Sunshine kicked the ball out of play so the player could get treatment. Lujic handed possession back to George Cross by throwing the ball back to Santilli and then chased down his own throw-in, bringing back memories of Fernando De Moraes doing the same thing against the same opponent back in South’s 1-0 win at Lakeside Stadium on Saturday 15 August 2009. Santilli grabbed the ball before Lujic could get there and with the big centre-forward bearing down on him, Santilli lifted his elbow and appeared to strike Lujic in the face. The result was a yellow card to the custodian and a penalty to South that Reed tucked away by sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. The home side had one more chance to take the game to extra time but Saldaris ensured that South held on for an extremely awkward win in a match that was far from a classic.
Post match, South defender Tim Mala summed it up by describing it as “one of those games where you just take the win and move on from it.” The FFV will hold the draw for the Fifth Round of the Dockerty Cup later this afternoon, with the matches to be played on Wednesday 7 May. South returns to League action this coming week with a trip to SS Anderson Reserve on Friday night to play Port Melbourne.
FINAL SCORE: SUNSHINE GEORGE CROSS 0-1 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-0)
0-1: Jamie Reed (85’p)
Key Stats (courtesy of Steven Orchard):
Shots: George Cross (5) – SMFC (13)
Turnovers: George Cross (51) – SMFC (66)
Balls into Final Third: George Cross (23) – SMFC (43)
Clearances: George Cross (17) – SMFC (10)
South Melbourne FC Line-up:
1. Jason SALDARIS (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 3. Andrew MULLETT (11. Brad NORTON 63’), 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 7. Nick EPIFANO, 8. Mathew THEODORE (15. Kobbie BOAHENE 90’), 10. Tyson HOLMES, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. James MUSA, 17. Jamie REED, 27. Leigh MINOPOULOS (9. Milos LUJIC 63’)
SMFC Man of the Match: Tyson Holmes
Venue: Chaplin Reserve
Date: Saturday 22 March 2014