South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever



By Skip Fulton

After last weeks one goal loss against traditional rivals Melbourne Knights, the U20s impressed across the field to win away from home. Up front the finishing was polished whilst the defenders provided a solid barrier at the back supported by another stellar performance from Jason Giccominato in goal.

John Cain Memorial Reserve was the setting for the Round 19 match with Northcote City and the first time the two teams had met this season. Northcote City were coming off a win over Werribee City, sitting in third on the ladder just three points behind leaders Green Gully.

The South Melbourne U20s team has a distinctive temperament and the football on display in the first five minutes can usually tell you the vibe of how the match is going to pan out. This vibe can create feelings ranging from ‘I don’t want to watch this match today’ all the way through to ‘something special is about to happen’. It wasn’t far into the match on Saturday afternoon where despite a bouncing pitch, the one-touch passing from Barbare, Hauser and Kecojevic through the midfield made it clear this was to be an exciting performance by the visitors.

In the fourteenth minute Andy Kecojevic received the ball around the halfway line from Ioannis Avramidis and launched his way down the left flank. A well timed pass to Ryan Barbare in the centre of the park who with a first time right boot pass slid the ball through the last line of defence to an open Joshua Markovski. The striker took a few paces and firmly placed the ball past the Northcote keeper into the bottom right of the net to open the scoring.

Five minutes later with the adrenaline on high from constant attacks, Barbare lined up in his normal role of free kick taker. From the right wing the flight of the ball took it just over two attackers and the goal keeper to find Tim Kakoliris unmarked and all alone at the back post. Surprised to find the ball landing softly at his feet, the defender tapped it across the line to double to score.

The remainder of the first half was a balance match-up with Avramidis and Juan Igic the pillars of the back line holding a strong defence. Giccominato in goal was coming off a man-of-the-match performance last week at Albert Park and contined his scintillating form stopping everything that came near him.

Early in the second half Northcote City delivered a reality check for South as Tommy Demelis scored for the home team. It was one of those moments where time slows down and you just watch as the ball makes its way through the area bouncing past the defenders and finding a striker who has just enough space to turn and slot it home.

You know South Melbourne are on song when the response comes quickly and with flare of style. Kecojevic took on the responsibility and made a superb solo run through the defence into the area and sent a rocket past the keeper into the net.

The next ten minutes would put South under the most intense pressure they had seen all match. Northcote threw everything at the back line and whilst the shots kept coming, Giccominato was stopping them all protecting the two goal lead.

Passionate football was on show and something was bound to happen that would amaze you or make you cringe. Unfortunately it was the latter as Barbare was taken down from behind with a dangerous tackle that bought more than a few players together. A second yellow card saw the referee raise the red and Northcote was down to ten men.

The substitutions started to flow and one for South Melbourne reflected a new face to the field. Stefan Valentini had recently arrived from Western Australia and had been in the U18s line-up for the last two weeks. Valentini had scored three goals in his first match, another last week and today stepped up for debut in the U20s.

He made a positive influence on the match when he made a run down the left towards the by line and into the area. His shot on target beat the keeper however it was the deflection off a Northcote defender that helped it into the net. Whilst it went down as an own goal, Valentini certainly set it up and continued his goal scoring arrival at South Melbourne.

As time ticked down Northcote continued to press for more goals but couldn’t find a way through. After just half a minute of stoppage time the whistle sounded and South Melbourne had defeated third placed Northcote City 1-4 away from home.

Coach Sasa Kolman couldn’t hide his smile after the match saying “Fantastic game. I can’t say anything else, well done to the boys. They completely executed the plan and we were the better team. We deserved to win by even more.”

“Our plan was to play a quick transition forward, especially on our left side. Like I said they executed it into the detail. Even the defence today was amazing.”

After the match also caught up with Ioannis Avramidis who today marked a special moment walking on to the field. He reflected on the match saying “It’s a big rivalry between Northcote and South Melbourne. The boys were pumped up before the match, we went out, fought hard and got the win.”

Motivation remains an active part of Kolman’s coaching style and Avramidis explained the philosophy discussed in the rooms before the match. “It’s about wanting to win. The coach was talking before the game about how professional players just want to win, they don’t care if they play one minute or ninety minutes. We need to get out there beat everyone. Every tackle, every shot, every pass we want to win it.”

On a personal level, Avradmidis said “I played at Northcote for three years. As an ex-club it has a bit of an emotional background. I wanted to go out there and prove a point that I left for the right reasons. This is my first year at South. It has a good atmosphere and a good bunch of boys in the team.”

The team next travels to Hosken Reserve to take on fifth placed Pascoe Vale on Sunday at 3:15pm


Match Photos:

Goal Scorers:
0-1 Joshua Markovski (15’), 0-2 Timothy Kakoliris (19’), 1-2 Tommy Demelis (47’), 1-3 Andy Kecojeviv (49’), 1-4 Nicholas Bavcar (74’ OG)

South Melbourne FC:
Jason Giccominato (GK), Ryan Babare (Alex Sporea ‘78), Andy Kecojevic, Eric Hauser (Angel Taravillo ‘76), Ioannis Avramidis, Joshua Markovski (Stefan Valentini ‘72), Dion Paola, Peter Constantinou, Sam Kagioglou (Jordan Moncrieff ‘45), Juan Igic (Joshua Meaker 52’), Tim Kakoliris.

Northcote City:
Cameron Dyer (GK), Melad Goro, James Dafoski, Allam Bosha, Danny Federico, Kristian Trajceski, Emin Sele, Ebubekir Capar, Burak Durnaoglu, Reis Aygun, Baran Karagoz.

SMFC Man of the Match: Ioannis Avramidis
Venue: John Cain Memorial Reserve
Date: Sunday 27 July 2014

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