South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

South with last gasp win in local derby

South with last gasp win in local derby

By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)

South Melbourne FC staged a remarkable fight-back to defeat Port Melbourne 2-3 at SS Anderson Reserve on Friday night. Substitute Leigh Minopoulos won the match for the away side, coming off the bench and scoring a double to secure the three points for the Blues.

The opening quarter of an hour of the match was all South, with the away side dominating possession and putting plenty of pressure on Port Melbourne’s defence. The opening goal arrived on 13 minutes, when Nick Epifano’s flick put Brad Norton through on the left side and his low cross was bundled into the net by Chris Grossman for an own goal. Shortly after, the post saved Port Melbourne from going 0-2 down as goalkeeper Alex Connell was beaten from a shot in the area. Port had been on the back foot during the opening 15-20 minutes but slowly began to work their way back into the contest and would have equalised had Jason Saldaris not made a fine one-on-one save. Eric Vassiliadis’ side eventually found the leveling goal seven minutes from halftime when Kevin Braniff found himself unmarked at the back post and headed the ball across Saldaris’ goal and into the far corner of the net.

The home side started the second half much better than South and deservedly went 2-1 ahead on 55 minutes. South Captain Michael Eagar couldn’t clear the danger properly and the ball was eventually played across to Kamal Ibrahim for the former South player to shoot low across Saldaris and into the back of the net. Port was now clearly on top of a rattled South, with Braniff especially having a very solid game and looking dangerous every time he had the ball. South Coach Chris Taylor reacted just after the hour mark by withdrawing Mathew Theodore and Epifano and replacing them with youngsters Kobbie Boahene and Minopoulos. The move paid off as both players drove South forward quickly, with Minopoulos not afraid to shoot at any opportunity.

With ten minutes remaining, Port’s players clearly began to tire and that was when South took their opportunities to score, though not without a massive slice of luck. Minopoulos leveled the scores at 2-2 on 80 minutes when he gained possession on the left side and cut in before firing a shot that took a big deflection and looped over a helpless Alex Connell and into the back of the net. The winner came three minutes later, when Minopoulos again cut in from the left side and side-stepped a defender before coolly slotting the ball past Connell to send the South fans behind that goal into a frenzy.

Post-match, Taylor was delighted with the result but noted that his side had been sloppy during the match. “We started very well…I wasn’t happy with the two soft goals we conceded but we did well to come back and win the game.” When asked about what he expected to get out of the next two matches (tough away trips to Green Gully and Hume City), Taylor matter-of-factly replied “six points.”

The NPL 20s match was also a high scoring affair, with Port Melbourne coming from 1-2 down in the final ten minutes to defeat South Melbourne 4-3. Stefan Zinni scored a double for South and Josh Markovski scored the other goal for the away side.

Next Saturday afternoon, South travel to Green Gully Reserve to take on Green Gully. Kick-off is at 3PM.


Goal Scorers:
0-1: Chris Grossman Own Goal (13′)
1-1: Kevin Braniff (38′)
2-1: Kamal Ibrahim (55′)
2-2: Leigh Minopoulos (80′)
2-3: Leigh Minopoulos (83′)

Key Stats (provided by Steven Orchard):
Shots: PMSC (8) – SMFC (13)
Saves: PMSC (4) – SMFC (4)
Corners: PMSC (2) – SMFC (12)
Balls into final third: PMSC (21) – SMFC (47)
Clearances: PMSC (21) – SMFC (12)

Port Melbourne:
21. Alex CONNELL (GK), 3. James RICCOBENE, 4. John LAZARIDIS (2. Andrew VIOLA 81’), 5. Nick TZOULIS, 6. Chris GROSSMAN, 7. Amadu KOROMA, 9. Kevin BRANIFF, 10. Luka PRELEVIC (12. Konstantinos STOUMPOS 70’), 14. Kamal IBRAHIM, 18. Joshua KWEIFIO-OKAI (11. Nicholas KROUSOURATIS 64’), 27. Andrew MILICEVIC.

South Melbourne FC:
1. Jason SALDARIS (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR, 6. Dimi TSIARAS (14. James MUSA 74’), 7. Nick EPIFANO (15. Kobbie BOAHENE 64’), 8. Mathew THEODORE (27. Leigh MINOPOULOS 64’), 9. Milos LUJIC, 10. Tyson HOLMES, 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 17. Jamie REED.

SMFC Man of the Match: Leigh Minopoulos
Venue: SS Anderson Reserve
Date: Friday 28 March 2014

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