By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC had to settle for a frustrating 1-1 draw against the determined Goulburn Valley Suns in their National Premier League meeting at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening. Despite taking an early lead through Tyson Holmes, the home side conceded an equalising goal five minutes later and then failed to break down the Suns defence for the rest of the match. South were also denied a second goal thanks to Jamie Reed having his penalty saved, as the bottom-placed side won a point against the top side in the League.
Chris Taylor’s team went into the match keen on getting back to winning ways following its 3-0 loss against Oakleigh on Friday 6 June, whilst the Suns were keen to stop a losing run of four consecutive matches. The home side took an early lead after ten minutes when Holmes chested down the ball with his back to goal before swivelling and firing an unstoppable shot over goalkeeper Phillip Petrovski and into the back of the net. Peter Zois’ Goulburn side had shown encouraging signs in the opening period of the match and they deservedly equalised five minutes later when Craig Carley’s through-ball was pounced on by Benjamin Clarke, who chipped the ball over the advancing Jason Saldaris and into the back of the unguarded net.
The home side were awarded a spot kick shortly after the halftime break when Milos Lujic was bundled over in the penalty area in what looked like a harsh decision against the Suns. It did not matter however as Reed’s penalty kick was hit at the right height for the goalkeeper and Petrovski guessed the right way – diving to his left – to parry away the spot kick and keep the scores level at 1-1. The away side then almost took a shock lead when a scrambled attempted clearance from the South defence deflected towards their goal, however Saldaris was alert and gathered the ball. South had plenty of chances to win the game but could not take any of them, with the home side coming closest when Nick Epifano’s shot from distance hit the bar and substitute Leigh Minopoulos’ injury-time header flew over the crossbar. In the end, Zois’ side could celebrate a well-earnt point and Taylor’s side were left to rue what might have been. Post-match, a clearly disappointed Taylor noted how “our finishing let us down.”
South still leads the NPL Victoria ladder at the halfway point of the League season, however, its lead has been trimmed from six points to four points following Oakleigh’s win at Ballarat on Saturday afternoon. With two home derbies in the League over the next few weeks against Heidelberg United and Port Melbourne – plus the Dockerty Cup Quarter Final against the Melbourne Knights sandwiched in between – South needs to get back on the winning list very quickly, otherwise its lead at the top of the ladder may completely evaporate within the next fortnight.
There was good news in the NPL 20s, as South Melbourne defeated the Goulburn Valley Suns 3-0 thanks to goals from Josh Markovski, Andy Kecojevic and Ryan Babare.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 1-1 GOULBURN VALLEY (HT: 1-1)
1-0: Tyson Holmes (10′)
1-1: Benjamin Clarke (15′)
Key Stats (Provided by Steven Orchard):
Shots: SMFC (15) – GVS (5)
Balls into Final Third: SMFC (46) – GVS (14)
Clearances: SMFC (5) – GVS (20)
South Melbourne FC:
1. Jason SALDARIS (GK), 2. Tim MALA (15. Kobbie BOAHENE 68′), 3. Andrew MULLETT, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 7. Nick EPIFANO, 8. Mathew THEODORE, 9. Milos LUJIC, 10. Tyson HOLMES, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. James MUSA, 17. Jamie REED (27. Leigh MINOPOULOS 62′).
Goulburn Valley Suns:
1. Phillip PETROVSKI (GK), 2. Cody SELLWOOD , 3. Naum SEKULOVSKI, 5. Nick KALAFATIS (4. Thomas LANGMAN 75′), 7. Benjamin CLARKE, 9. Craig CARLEY (14. Rossi LAGANA 88′), 10. Kristian SARKIES, 11. Ardian VUNIQI, 13. Zachary PARASKEVAS (15. Anthony CALANDRO 88′), 16. Frank LAGANA, 19. Hernan ESPINDOLA.
SMFC Man of the Match: Iqi Jawadi
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Sunday 15 June 2014