South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

South maintain lead at top thanks to Lujic double

South maintain lead at top thanks to Lujic double

By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)

South Melbourne FC defeated Northcote City 2-1 at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening to put itself on the verge of becoming the 2014 National Premier League Victoria Champions. Centre-forward Milos Lujic scored a goal in each half as South edged even closer to securing its ninth Victorian State League title in its 55 year history.

South were the stronger side in the first half and took the lead after 16 minutes. Iqi Jawadi played his way around a couple of Northcote players in midfield and passed the ball down the left side for Tyson Holmes to run onto and cross perfectly to the back post for Lujic to head the ball past Northcote goalkeeper Chris Petropoulos. As the half wore on, the away side slowly worked their way back into the match and most likely would have equalised had South goalkeeper Chris Maynard not tipped Anthony Rizk’s shot over his crossbar.

Northcote levelled the scores after 56 minutes when former South player Marinos Gasparis hit a perfect free kick from outside the box that beat Maynard and nestled into the bottom right corner of the goal. With so much at stake for the home side, South pressed forward and almost re-took the lead straight away but Holmes’ low drive across Petropoulos’ goal went just wide of the far post and shortly after there were big shouts for Lujic to be awarded a penalty when he went down in the area but the referee dismissed the claims.

South Coach Chris Taylor made a double-substitution on 70 minutes as Mathew Theodore and Shaun Timmins replaced Holmes and Brad Norton and the move paid off instantly. Two minutes after entering the action and with his first touch, Theodore’s magnificent through-ball put Lujic through one-on-one with Petropoulos and the big striker sent the crowd into raptures by firing the ball into the bottom left corner for his 20th League goal of the season from 24 matches. Lujic is now level with Jimmy Armstrong (1972) and Charlie Egan (1982) in equal third place for the most individual goals scored in a League season by a South player.

In a tense finish, South saw out the remainder of the game to put itself in a fantastic position to win the League. The victory sees South Melbourne maintain its seven point lead over the Oakleigh Cannons, however the Cannons have a game in hand and will play that match against the Melbourne Knights at Knights Stadium on Wednesday 3 September.

Post-match, Taylor was delighted to get the three points and noted that “we’ve just got a bit more to do to get where we want to be (League Champions).” Captain Michael Eagar added that “we need to win one more game to ensure it (the title) and it would be good to do it against Oakleigh in a fortnight…we feel we owe them one after they beat us earlier this season.”

The news was not as good in the NPL 20s as South Melbourne were defeated 0-1 by Northcote City.

South Melbourne FC enjoys a weekend off before hosting the Oakleigh Cannons at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday 7 September at 5PM.

Possible scenarios over the next few weeks:

If the Melbourne Knights defeat the Oakleigh Cannons on 3 September:
* SMFC will lead Oakleigh by seven points with two matches remaining for both sides and will be League Champions.

If the Melbourne Knights and Oakleigh draw on 3 September:
* SMFC will lead Oakleigh by six points with two matches remaining for both sides.
* SMFC will win the title if it avoids defeat to Oakleigh on 7 September.

If Oakleigh defeat the Melbourne Knights on 3 September:
* SMFC will lead Oakleigh by four points with two matches remaining for both sides.
* SMFC will win the title if it avoids defeat to Oakleigh on 7 September.


Goal Scorers:
1-0: Milos Lujic (16′)
1-1: Marinos Gasparis (56′)
2-1: Milos Lujic (72′)

South Melbourne FC:
21. Chris MAYNARD (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 7. Nick EPIFANO, 9. Milos LUJIC, 10. Tyson HOLMES (8. Mathew THEODORE 70′), 11. Brad NORTON (25. Shaun TIMMINS 70′), 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. James MUSA, 17. Jamie REED, 77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS.

Northcote City:
22. Chris PETROPOULOS (GK), 2. Adrian CHIAPPETTA, 4. Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS, 5. Phil PETRESKI, 6. Aaron WARD, 10. Marinos GASPARIS (9. Trent RIXON 78’), 11. Liam WOODING, 15. Wade DEKKER (8. James KALIFATIDIS 77’), 16. Greg LOMBARDO, 17. Anthony RIZK, 23. Jonathan BOUNAS (7. Jonathan MUNOZ 70’).

SMFC Man of the Match: Iqi Jawadi
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Sunday 24 August 2014

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