By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC broke a Club record that had stood since 1960 by defeating Ballarat Red Devils 1-2 at Morshead Park on Saturday afternoon. First half goals from Milos Lujic and Jamie Reed proved to be enough as South won the three points and registered seven wins from seven National Premier League matches in 2014, setting a new record for most consecutive wins to start a League season.
Morshead Park Stadium hosted its first ever match as the match kicked off in sunshine before the weather took a turn for the worse after about half an hour and saw the rest of the match being played out in very wet and cold conditions. Luckily for Chris Taylor’s men, they had effectively sealed the three points in the opening 21 minutes and were able to grind out the result when the weather changed and the conditions became trickier. South opened the scoring after 11 minutes when Iqi Jawadi played Lujic through before the centre-forward calmly slotted the ball past Aaron Romein’s near post. Reed then hit the crossbar with a dipping shot before the away side went 0-2 ahead on 21 minutes when Michael Eagar controlled the ball from a corner and crossed back into the six yard box for Reed to meet the ball amongst a sea of bodies and score past Romein after two attempts. The goalkeeper then made an excellent save from a goal-bound Reed shot minutes later by forcing the ball wide of the goal. Lujic was denied a second when he stuck the ball in the back of the empty net but was flagged for offside.
James Robinson’s Ballarat side had been very quiet in the first half yet went close when Charlie King hit a fierce drive that sailed just over Jason Saldaris’ goal. The home side scored what proved to be a consolation goal right on the halftime break, when James Musa gave away a foul just outside the area that the South players were incensed about because they believed the centre-back had clearly won the ball. From the resultant free kick, Dane Milovanovic stepped up and hit a wonderful free kick that hit the top left corner of the net despite Saldaris getting a glove to the ball. The goal gave Ballarat real hope that they could gain something from the match in the second half, however as the rain poured down at Morshead Park, South held firm in the second half to win relatively comfortably and maintain its 100 per cent winning record across all competitions in 2014.
Post-match, Taylor was pleased that his players had won and broken the Club record but remained level-headed about the result. “We were outstanding in the opening 25 minutes and created lots of chances and could have had two or three more goals. I’m pleased but I’m not entirely happy with the performance….but sometimes you have to take the wins you’re not entirely happy with.” Tyson Holmes and Reed were both substituted off late in the match with minor injuries but Taylor wasn’t too concerned, adding that both players should be available for selection in both the Dockerty Cup match against Berwick City on Wednesday night and then the League match against Bentleigh Greens on Sunday afternoon. In terms of squad selection for the Berwick match, Taylor said that “I will probably make about six changes to let the younger players have a go…it’s important to have everyone fit and firing and these guys will get their chance this week.”
It was a disappointing result in the NPL Under 20s match as Ballarat fought back from a 0-1 deficit in the second half to defeat South 3-1, with South’s goal being an own goal.
South Melbourne FC’s next match is the Dockerty Cup Fifth Round tie against Berwick City at Jack Thomas Reserve on Wednesday night (7 May), with kick-off at 7:30PM. League action resumes again next Sunday evening (11 May) with a tough match against the Bentleigh Greens at Lakeside Stadium, with kick-off at 5PM.
FINAL SCORE: BALLARAT RED DEVILS 1-2 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 1-2)
0-1: Milos Lujic (11′)
0-2: Jamie Reed (21′)
1-2: Dane Milovanovic (45+3′)
Ballarat Red Devils:
1. Aaron ROMEIN (GK), 3. Daniel TINKLER, 4. Dane MILOVANOVIC, 13. Michael TRIGGER (35. Adrian CURTAIN 85′), 15. Dom SWINTON (12. Miles BAKER 67′), 18. Daniel O’DONNELL, 19. Daniel FIRTH (30. Ibrahim GHULAMI 75′), 21. Charlie KING, 22. Pat KARRAS, 25. Steven THOMSON, 31. Simon MURPHY.
South Melbourne FC:
1. Jason SALDARIS (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 7. Nick EPIFANO (15. Kobbie BOAHENE 60′), 8. Mathew THEODORE, 9. Milos LUJIC, 10. Tyson HOLMES (6. Dimi TSIARAS 84′), 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. James MUSA, 17. Jamie REED (27. Leigh MINOPOULOS 75′).
SMFC Man of the Match: Brad Norton
Venue: Morshead Park Stadium
Date: Saturday 3 May 2014