By Skip Fulton
The last four matches have seen the U20s hit goal scoring form putting twelve goals into the net. The match at Hosken Reserve this weekend counted for three of them thanks to Andy Kecojevic and a pair to Stefan Zinni.
The team carried on where they left off last week having disposed of Northcote City with a score of 1-4. The pitch at Hosken Reserve was heavy in places but held up well considering the volume of rain experienced over the preceding week, especially the torrential conditions the Seniors encountered on Friday night. Home team Pascoe Vale sit one place above South on the ladder with the extra two wins accounting for the six point margin. A look back to May 18th would find the two teams previous encounter at Lakeside Park where Pascoe Vale took the points with a 1-3 win.
Looking to reverse this previous result and notch up a second win in a row, it was Dion Paola who showed strength and pace in the midfield through the early stages on the match. He served as play-marker feeding the ball up front to the likes of Joshua Markovski and Andy Kecojevic. Having returned to scoring form last week, Kecojevic was in superb form causing havoc for the Pascoe Vale defence. His speed and ability to weave through traffic created openings and in the twenty sixth minute he found space down the left hand side. Making his way past the defence his left foot strike from the edge of the six yard box went by the keeper and across the face of goal into the side netting.
A few minutes later as Pascoe Vale were mounting pressure to respond, South went down to ten men albeit temporarily. Tall defender Jordan Moncrieff dropped his head to make a clearing header near the sideline when a Pascoe Vale player raised a boot trying to tap the ball into space.
Moncrieff’s face got up close and personal with the studs on an Addidas boot and the result was a bloody right temple and a break on the sideline. Recognition and praise must be given to the Pascoe Vale Team Manager Peter Bauer who within seconds had a bandage out of the first aid kit and on Moncrieff’s head before most knew what was going on.
The remainder of the first half was relatively balanced. Pascoe Vale Captain Vlad Khamees held up the midfield for the home team and they made several attacking runs were made down both flanks. Good crosses came into the area and found unmarked attackers who were able to head the ball easily but going just wide for the home team. Sam Kagioglou and Tim Kakoliris at left and right back kept the wings under control whilst Jason Giccominato in goal was rarely challenged in a significant way. An on-target strike by Pascoe Vale’s Anthony Taranto on the edge of the area three minutes before the half was the best of the opportunities for the home team however Giccominato was up to the task making the save.
The half-time break was spent pondering what a wood-fired oven pizza would have tasted like however this pleasure remained with those who attended the Seniors 0-3 win on Friday night.
Returning to the field Eric Hauser started to get into the match in a significant way making runs down the left flank feeding Markovski and Kecojevic in the centre. A change in goal keeper for Pascoe Vale at the rest period wasn’t going to prevent the attacking onslaught the home team were faced with.
South Melbourne Coach Sasa Kolman made one change at half time bringing on Juan Igic and his second came a few minutes later with Alex Sporea. It was however the third change when Stefan Zinni entered the fray and provided some fresh legs and pace up front that things started to get exciting again.
On the field for just six minutes, he found himself on the end of a rocket low-level cross which made its way through the defence and past the keeper. Zinni with the tap in doubled the lead for South.
A double change with twelve minutes to play would rest Ryan Barabre and Joshua Markovski and allow Stefan Valentini and Angel Taravillo into the game. It would be a rare occasion for Kolman to use all five substitutes in a match however with three games in seven days the move made perfect sense.
Play started to open up and the injection of Valentini and Taravillo had an immediate impact especially as the play ventured consistently into South’s final third. Kecojevic continued to attract defender in the middle of the pitch as he was closely marked and this created opportunities out wide.
Zinni made a solo move down the left taking on two defenders and having the pace to beat them both. Head down at full pace he may not have been aware he didn’t have any help in the area so a cross would have been wasted. Spurred on by some expert and vocal coaching from the sideline telling him to ‘go yourself’, Zinni did exactly that. Into the area, down to the byline, cutting towards the goal with just the keeper to beat. A ridiculous angle to shoot from wasn’t enough to stop him as he found the smallest of margins between the keeper and the near post to slot it through into the far side netting. Certainly one of, if not the best, solo goals I’ve seen in the U20s this year.
The final few minutes counted down for a richly deserved 0-3 win for the South Melbourne U20s.
After the match South coach Kolman was impressed with the performance. “Another big win, it was beautiful. I said to the boys if you want to make a statement you need to make a statement today with a second win in a row. That is how you are going to attract people to watch you and how you can get the chance to play next season maybe somewhere else, and I’m thinking about our Seniors. They did it, they fought well. Three nil is a big result. I’m really happy, it’s a fantastic team.”
Kolman explained tactically there were a number of positives to take away from the win. “We are always working on the same things. It’s about transition play, attacking and defensive. We are a very disciplined and motivated team. You can see that when we play. This is something I am really happy with and they boys are following my instructions.”
Double goal scorer Stefan Zinni also provided smfc.com.au with some time after the match to reflect on the win saying “It was a good game. At the start we played well as a team, one-two touches, passing and movement creating plenty of chances. We looked dangerous on the break and I thought we kept it tight at the back.”
Looking at the encouraging aspects of the team’s performance, Zinni highlighted a number of key areas. “Our play up front was really good today. We moved well, fluid in movement and crosses in were really good. Some key positives for the future.”
The team are on the road for the third match in a row. Wednesday night is against Bentleigh Greens on the synthetic pitch at Kingston Heath and then returning home on Sunday to meet Werribee City.
FINAL SCORE: PASCOE VALE 0-3 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-1)
Match Photos: http://on.fb.me/1pzwC02
0-1 Andy Kecojeviv (26’), 0-2 Stefan Zinni (73’), 0-3 Stefan Zinni (86’)
South Melbourne FC:
Jason Giccominato (GK), Tim Kakoliris (Alex Sporea 48’), Jordan Moncrieff, Ioannis Avramidis, Sam Kagioglou, Dion Paola, Joshua Meaker (Juan Igic 45’), Eric Hauser (Stefan Zinni 67’), Ryan Babare (Angel Taravillo 78’), Andy Kecojevic, Joshua Markovski (Stefan Valentini 78’).
Jayden Allan (GK) (Gab Matti 45’), Alessandro Verratti, Joel Grech, Eli Luttmer, David Younan, Anthony Taranto (Marko Stojkovski 68’), Ali Eyiglin, Daniel Hutchison, Vlad Khamees (Gab Dinatale 87’), Ben Domas, Stephen Gustus (Alkin Keles 74’).
SMFC Man of the Match: Andy Kecojevic
Venue: Hosken Reserve
Date: Sunday 3 August 2014