By John Kyrou (photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC defeated the Melbourne Knights 0-1 at Knights Stadium to continue its 100 per cent winning start to the 2014 National Premier League Victoria season. Milos Lujic’s goal five minutes from time proved to be the difference between the two sides as South won its sixth straight League match in a row.
Both sides had excellent opportunities to open the scoring in the opening few minutes of the derby. Lujic should have opened the scoring for the away side after beating the offside trap and being one-on-one with Knights goalkeeper Chris May, however the centre-forward decided to cut the ball back to Nick Epifano and that gave the scrambling Knights defence enough time to get back and block the shot. The Knights counter-attacked moments later as Rodrigo Covarrubias found himself through on goal but South goalkeeper Jason Saldaris blocked his shot. Later on in the half, May tipped a goal-bound Jamie Reed strike over his crossbar, whilst at the other end Saldaris made a vital save to deny Covarrubias scoring from Shayan Alinejad’s cross from the right side.
South were the more dominant side in the second half but were unable to put away their chances created. Shortly after the hour mark, Epifano put the ball into the back of the net but the goal was disallowed as the midfielder had been offside before scoring. Reed then missed a great opportunity to open the scoring after being put through by Tyson Holmes on the left side but the Englishman curled his shot wide of May’s far post. South were clearly on top of the Knights by this stage but it was the home side that missed the best chance of the match when Alinejad failed to properly connect to the ball after it was flicked over to him at the back post following Anthony Colosimo’s long throw in.
The deadlock was finally broken when substitute Leigh Minopoulos did brilliantly to beat two Knights players in midfield before setting up Lujic, who picked his spot before curling the ball past May and into the back of the net off the far post. It was Lujic’s sixth League goal of the season at an average of exactly one goal a game.
Post-match, South Coach Chris Taylor noted how “derby games are always difficult to predict…I thought we were very disciplined and we grounded it out.”
The derby wins means that South has now matched its greatest ever start to a League campaign, equalling the six straight wins achieved at the beginning of the Club’s first ever season of competition. South won its first six Victorian Metropolitan League 1 North matches in 1960 before drawing 3-3 against Corio in the seventh round on Saturday 7 May 1960. It was the only League match that South dropped points in that season as Chris Georgousis’ men blitzed Division 1 by winning seventeen of the 18 matches to gain promotion into the 1961 Victorian State League.
It was further great news in the NPL 20s, as South defeated the Knights 1-4. Ryan Babare scored twice as Andrija Roksandic and Joshua Markovski scored the other two goals.
South travels to Morshead Park next Saturday afternoon to face the Ballarat Red Devils. Victory for Taylor’s side will confirm South’s best ever start to a League season in the Club’s history, having already broken another individual Club record earlier this year with the most consecutive away wins in the League to begin a season.
Fans who would like to attend Saturday’s match in Ballarat are advised that there is a bus service leaving from Lakeside Stadium. For further details of departure times and associated cost, please contact the club on 9645 9797 or email@example.com.
FINAL SCORE: MELBOURNE KNIGHTS 0-1 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-0)
0-1: Milos Lujic (85′)
Key Stats (provided by Steven Orchard):
Shots: MKFC (5) – SMFC (18)
Saves: MKFC (9) – SMFC (2)
Turnovers: MKFC (84) – SMFC (80)
Clearances: MKFC (19) – SMFC (13)
Shots Blocked: MKFC (0) – SMFC (5)
1. Chris MAY (GK), 4. Ben SUREY, 5. Milan BATUR, 6. Tomislav USKOK, 8. James McGARRY, 11. Anthony COLOSIMO, 13. Antun KOVACIC, 14. Rodrigo COVARRUBIAS, 16. Nikola SRBINOVSKI, 17. Daniel VISEVIC (7. Chris TALAJIC 73’ [18. Anthony DUZEL 81’]), 19. Shayan ALINEJAD.
South Melbourne FC:
1. Jason SALDARIS (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 7. Nick EPIFANO (27. Leigh MINOPOULOS 69’), 8. Mathew THEODORE, 9. Milos LUJIC, 10. Tyson HOLMES, 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. James MUSA, 17. Jamie REED.
SMFC Man of the Match: James Musa
Venue: Knights Stadium
Date: Sunday 27 April 2014