By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC extended its lead at the top of the National Premier League Victoria competition with a comfortable 2-1 victory against Port Melbourne at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening. South’s win, coupled with Oakleigh’s 1-1 draw against Heidelberg last night, gives Chris Taylor’s side a six point lead at the top of the NPL Victoria ladder with 11 League matches remaining.
Following the disappointing Dockerty Cup loss against the Melbourne Knights midweek, South were keen on winning the Port Melbourne game in order to officially move on from its exit in the Cup. Taylor made three changes from the Knights game as he started with Jamie Reed (for Leigh Minopoulos), Stephen Hatzikostas (for Tyson Holmes) and new left-back signing Shaun Timmins (for Brad Norton) as the other three players took up a spot next to Dimi Tsiaras and Chris Maynard on the substitutes’ bench.
After a slow start to the match, Port Melbourne took the lead when a stray square pass by the South defence was intercepted by the away side and the ball was played through for Zois Galanopoulos to slot past the advancing Jason Saldaris and into the back of the net. South levelled only minutes later when Tim Mala played the ball to Reed on the right side of the penalty area and the striker cut the ball back for centre-forward Milos Lujic to tuck past Stjepan Gal and into the back of the net. From there, South took control of the game and were awarded a spot kick less than five minutes from the halftime break when Iqi Jawadi was brought down in the area by Stefan Nigro after
taking on and beating the defender for pace. Reed was under a great deal of pressure to score the spot kick after his penalty was saved against Goulburn Valley two weeks ago and he coolly stepped up and blasted the ball past Gal to complete the scoring on the night.
South were dominant in the second half but could not score another goal to wrap up the three points, thanks to both wayward finishing and excellent saves by Gal. Nevertheless, the job had been done in the opening half and the South defence were minimally troubled as the home side confirmed its second League win in a row. Taylor was relieved post-match and thought his side thoroughly deserved the three points. “Wednesday night was very disappointing, however it was good to bounce back with a win tonight and put that Cup game behind us. We can now focus on the League and making sure we stay at the top of the ladder come the end of the season.” With regards to his new signings and rotating his squad, Taylor added that “now is the time of the season to start rotating the squad a bit more, we have brought in some new guys (Hatzikostas and Timmins) who both played well, which is good because it keeps everyone else on their toes.”
In the NPL 20s match, South Melbourne and Port Melbourne played out a 1-1 draw, with Stefan Zinni the goal scorer for South.
South’s next match is against Green Gully on Sunday 6 July at Lakeside Stadium. Kick-off is at 5PM.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 2-1 PORT MELBOURNE (HT: 2-1)
0-1: Zois Galanopoulos (11′)
1-1: Milos Lujic (13′)
2-1: Jamie Reed (41’p)
Key Stats (Provided by Steven Orchard):
Shots: SMFC (14) – PMFC (3)
Turnovers: SMFC (69) – PMFC (77)
Balls into Final Third: SMFC (35) – PMFC (11)
Clearances: SMFC (7) – PMFC (14)
South Melbourne FC:
1. Jason SALDARIS (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 7. Nick EPIFANO (27. Leigh MINOPOULOS 79′), 8. Mathew THEODORE, 9. Milos LUJIC (10. Tyson HOLMES 90′), 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. James MUSA, 17. Jamie
REED, 25. Shaun TIMMINS (11. Brad NORTON 72′), 77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS.
1. Stjepan GAL (GK), 3. James RICCOBENE, 6. Chris GROSSMAN, 8. Zois GALANOPOULOS (4. Timothy PATON 77’), 9. Nicky MCNAMARA (23. Connor REDDAN 67’), 11. Nicholas KROUSORATIS (19. Anthony Ianchello 90’) 15. Stefan NIGRO, 17. Phillip RICCOBENE, 20. Milos RIDESIC, 26. Lambros HONOS, 27. Andrew MILICEVIC.
SMFC Man of the Match: Jamie Reed
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Sunday 29 June 2014