An outstanding defensive display helped South Melbourne FC defeat Hume City 0-1 at ABD Stadium on Saturday night.
On a treacherous night in Broadmeadows, Milos Lujic’s first half header was enough to secure the points in a game that was far from pretty but considerably entertaining nonetheless.
The win extended South’s unbeaten start to the season to eight games in the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria and ten games across all competitions. South won the first eleven League matches of the 2014 season before going on to win the title.
It might have been a different story had Hume City captain Nick Hegarty found the back of the net in the eighth minute of the game. Hegarty’s header struck the underside of the crossbar, bouncing back out into the field of play before eventually being cleared by Brad Norton.
South was forced to withstand some heavy pressure from the home side early in the match, before Lujic’s ninth goal of the season gave the defending NPL Victoria Champions the lead after 26 minutes. Nick Epifano delivered a delightful ball to the near post, with Lujic finding the back of the net with a characteristically powerful header.
The lead gave Chris Taylor’s men more control over proceedings, with Epifano and Andy Brennan constantly threatening on each flank.
Just before half-time a surging run from Brennan resulted in a free-kick on the edge of the area. After initially slipping in his run-up, Dane Milovanovic drove a powerful shot underneath the wall which forced Hume goalkeeper Chris Oldfield into a terrific diving save.
A combination of shocking conditions and some excellent defending from both sides meant that chances were few and far between in the second half.
Tim Mala was particularly outstanding at the right side of defence, nailing a series of important slide tackles and successfully nullifying star Hume attacker Jai Ingham.
The game came to life in the final ten minutes when Hume had a big chance to level the scores, only for Calvin Mbarga’s header to sail over the crossbar.
Moments later Andy Brennan skipped down the field after a slip from a Hume defender, however the big Tasmanian’s shot went just wide of the post. It mattered little, with the final whistle sounding a few moments later to give South a sixth League win in 2015 with Taylor’s side still unbeaten in ten matches across all competitions this season.
Captain Michael Eagar commended the resilience of his squad after three wins in seven days during the past week. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy tonight but we knuckled down, did the hard yards and got the deserved three points. We had a tough derby match last Saturday, then the midweek Cup game and then another tough game tonight. It’s been a great effort by everyone in the squad. Everyone has done their job when called upon.”
Fix Hellas Beer Man of the Match Tim Mala was also quick to sing the praises of the defence and striker Milos Lujic. “Millsy is the sort of guy that if you give him half a metre he’s so dangerous that he makes you pay and that’s what he did tonight. It was a good effort by everyone really, we had to grind it out but we got the win and you can see that we’re buzzing now.”
There was further good news in the Under 20s as Nashir Hussainy’s second half goal gave South Melbourne a 0-1 win over Hume City.
South Melbourne FC’s next match is at home against Pascoe Vale at Lakeside Stadium on Friday 24 April. Kick-off is at 8:15pm.
FINAL SCORE: HUME CITY 0-1 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-1)
0-1: Milos Lujic (26′)
1. Chris OLDFIELD (GK), 2. Dean TOMESKI, 3. Shaun TIMMINS, 4. Issy ERDOGAN, 5. Petar FRANJIC, 7. Jai INGHAM, 9. Deng AGUEK, 10. Joey FRANJIC, 13. Shane REXHEPI, 17. Marcus SCHROEN, 39. Nick HEGARTY (C).
Substitutes: 8. Calvin Mbarga, 11. Ivan Pavlak, 14. Aaron Turner, 16. Matt Hennessy, 30. Ayrin Sayan.
South Melbourne FC:
1. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 5. Luke ADAMS, 7. Nick EPIFANO (21. Jake BARKER-DAISH 82′), 9. Milos LUJIC, 10. David STIRTON (8. Mathew THEODORE 50′), 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 13. Dane MILOVANOVIC, 17. Andy BRENNAN.
Fix Hellas Beer Man of the Match: Tim Mala
Venue: ABD Stadium
Date: Saturday 18 April 2015