New signings Luke Adams and David Stirton wore the South Melbourne jersey for the first time when they took to the pitch for the pre-season friendly against Langwarrin SC last Saturday. As the trialling of new players in the preparation for the 2015 NPL Victoria season continues, the scoreboard ticked over six times as South enjoyed a comfortable victory.
Away matches for the pre-season are the trend at the moment as Lakeside Stadium remains reserved for Asian Cup requirements. South took a particularly large contingent down to Lawton Reserve on the Mornington Peninsula, with Langwarrin also receiving decent support thanks to a good showing from the locals. For the first time this year, the Under 20s and Seniors were both on show in a double-header as South’s Under 20s began the day well by winning their match 2-0.
In the previous Seniors matches against Dandenong City and Frankston Pines, Head Coach Chris Taylor played the younger and trailing players in the first half before bringing on the established line-up in the second half. On this occasion it was the established line-up on the pitch when the referee first blew the whistle, including the recently arrived Luke Adams from New Zealand.
The match started well, with Captain Michael Eager and Adams playing out from the back and pushing through to Iqi Jawadi, who was a controlling feature in the midfield. Langwarrin pushed forward using both flanks in the early stages, bringing Tim Mala and Brad Norton into play. The first bit of action came when Mala made a crunching tackle, sliding himself across the grass and into the concentre dugout as he sent his opponent flying. Mala received some blunt feedback from the referee before the match continued on.
On the half-hour mark, a poor Langwarrin back pass found Nick Epifano moving quickly towards the onrushing goalkeeper. His right foot strike went low past the keeper and into the back of the net to open the scoring, with the score remaining 0-1 at the halftime break.
Epifano would be back in the action almost immediately in the second half. A free kick from the edge of the area near the arc saw him curl the ball off his right boot into the edge of the net to double South’s lead. Similar to last week, this would spark an onslaught on the Langwarrin goal, with the scoreboard ticking over a further three times during the following ten minutes.
Epifano was involved again for the third goal. He took the ball down the left wing to the by-line before a classy cutback found Nejc Kolman (brother of South Melbourne Under 20s Coach Sasa), who whipped it into the net. A few minutes later, Milos Lujic pressed high inside the area, with his pressure on the Langwarrin goalkeeper forcing a wayward clearance. Bonel Obradovic pounced and lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper to put South ahead by four goals.
Play had re-started for less than thirty seconds when Lujic showed pace and strength to muscle his way through the defence to the top of the box and send a lethal shot crashing into the back of the net. Lujic’s goal made it four in thirteen minutes and made the score 0-5 in South’s favour.
Chris Taylor then began rotating through his youth and trialists, resulting in a slowing of the match. The pace had taken its toll on the Langwarrin players because they had only been through a week of training sessions and the friendly against South was their first hit out of the pre-season.
The match was coming to a close but not before Nejc Kolman found space and pushed the ball wide to Under 20s midfielder Eric Hauser, who chose placement over power and slotted the ball past the Langwarrin goalkeeper to record South’s sixth and final goal of the match.
Chris Taylor was happy with the outing, commenting that the focus wasn’t on the result but on achieving the objectives of the exercise. Preparation for the season is beginning to move into high gear as Luke Adams, David Stirton and James Musa all took to the pitch for the first time in 2015. The only remaining new signing yet to appear is Dane Milovanovic. Dane spoke to smfc.com.au on the morning of the match, advising his return to full fitness was progressing well and we would be likely to see him get game time in the following week if all went well.
After the match, smfc.com.au spoke with Nejc Kolman to get his thoughts on the match. “I think we were the better team. There is a big difference between the two teams and we showed quality out there” he said. Asked about the difference in what he was experiencing playing in Melbourne compared to his recent time in Slovenia’s professional league, Kolman added, “the biggest difference is in the physical aspect. You train two times a day in Slovenian professional football, here it’s only a few times a week. The quality in this team is not bad, maybe it’s a bit faster in Slovenia.” We asked Nejc how he was fitting in with the team and he explained, “I feel good. I am training here for two weeks and I feel OK. I need some more days of training to become fit and it will only get better.”
South Melbourne FC will take on NPL 1 side Kingston City in their next pre-season friendly. That will be played at Peninsula Strikers Football Club (McClelland Drive, Frankston) this coming Wednesday 21 January, with kick-off at 7PM.