By John Kyrou (Photo by South Hobart FC)
South Melbourne FC won through to the PlayStation 4 National Premier League Semi Finals with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against South Hobart FC at the South Hobart Ground on Saturday afternoon. Jamie Reed’s spectacular goal via an overhead kick proved to be the difference as the Victorian Champions defeated the Tasmanian Champions, setting up a meeting with the NPL South Australia Minor Premiers MetroStars Soccer Club this coming Sunday.
Several hundred South Melbourne fans flew across the Bass Strait from Melbourne to Hobart to support their side on Saturday and their presence was certainly noticed and heard at the South Hobart Ground. Their side began the match strongly and opened the scoring after only six minutes. Michael Eagar’s header hit the crossbar before the ball was eventually set up for Reed to connect with an overhead kick that beat South Hobart goalkeeper Kane Pierce for what was the winning goal. The Tasmanian Champions slowly worked their way back into the game and had shouts for a penalty waved away by the referee Brenton Kopra after centre-forward Brayden Mann went down in the penalty area. Some heavy challenges resulted in some aggressive moments shortly before the halftime break as tempers flared but eventually everything calmed down and the Victorian Champions went into the sheds with their lead intact.
Ken Morton’s South Hobart continued to pressure South Melbourne in the second half and looked very dangerous on the break thanks to their forwards Mann and Andy Brennan, who between them had scored 56 of South Hobart’s 89 League goals in 2014. The Tasmanians should have scored in the second half but lacked composure at the critical moments, with many of their opportunities resulting in the ball flying over Chris Maynard’s crossbar. South Melbourne had Eagar to thank also for a superb dominant performance at centre-half, with the captain leading by example and intercepting many of South Hobart’s attacks. South Melbourne suffered a horrible blow just after the hour mark when midfielder Stephen Hatzikostas landed awkwardly on his right leg after challenging for a header and had to be immediately substituted to the applause of all 800 spectators inside the ground.
The match hit a controversial point about twenty minutes from time when Reed’s ball over the top of the South Hobart defence put Milos Lujic through one-on-one with Pierce. Lujic dribbled the ball past the oncoming Pierce before being body-checked by the South Hobart goalkeeper just outside the area. Instead of issuing a straight red card to Pierce for denying Lujic a clear goal scoring opportunity, referee Kopra instead only issued the goalkeeper with a yellow card to the bewilderment and anger of the South Melbourne players, coaching staff and supporters alike. Reed’s resultant free kick went just wide of the goal as an extremely fortunate Pierce was let off the hook for a second time. Lujic’s point-blank shot deep into the six minutes of injury time took the slightest deflection off a South Hobart defender before hitting the crossbar and going out for a corner kick as South Melbourne were unable to finish the Tasmanians off with a second goal.
In the end, Reed’s goal was enough for the Victorians to progress at the expense of a South Hobart side that had played an excellent match and really taken the game to their visitors. Post-match, South Melbourne Coach Chris Taylor praised South Hobart, saying “they’re a very good team who tried to play… on the break they looked to snatch the game at times but I thought that we also had a lot of chances as well.”
Taylor also thanked the supporters who made the trip to Hobart, adding that “we knew we would get support here, we have the best fans in the country for a reason. We are very glad that we won the game to reward those who travelled here to support us.” Captain Eagar agreed, saying that “we appreciate that many of our supporters have spent a lot of money to travel here either for the day or for the weekend, I just want to thank them all for the great support and for helping to get us over the line against a very good South Hobart side today.”
South Melbourne FC’s PlayStation 4 NPL Semi Final will be played against the MetroStars Soccer Club of Football Federation South Australia, after they defeated NPL Western Australia’s Bayswater City FC 5-4 on penalties in Perth on Saturday afternoon following a 0-0 draw after normal and extra time. The Semi Final will be played on Sunday 28 September at Lakeside Stadium, with the match kicking off at 3PM.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH HOBART 0-1 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-1)
0-1: Jamie Reed (6’)
South Hobart FC:
1. Kane PIERCE (GK), 2. Liam SCOTT, 3. Caleb LUDLOW, 5. Hugh LUDFORD (C), 6. Scott LAMONT, 7. Nicholas MORTON, 9. Brayden MANN, 10. Andy BRENNAN, 13. Hugh UNDY (15. Darcy HALL 89’), 14. Matthew LEWIS (11. Benjamin HAMLETT 65’), 16. Connor KASS.
South Melbourne FC:
21. Chris MAYNARD (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 7. Nick EPIFANO (27. Leigh MINOPOULOS 83’), 8. Mathew THEODORE, 9. Milos LUJIC, 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. James MUSA, 17. Jamie REED, 77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS (10. Tyson HOLMES 63’).
SMFC Man of the Match: Michael Eagar
Venue: South Hobart Ground
Date: Saturday 20 September 2014