South Melbourne FC defeated Werribee City 1-0 at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening to move into second spot on the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria ladder and set up a monster clash against the first-placed Bentleigh Greens next Sunday.
Chris Taylor’s side had originally begun the round in third place (level on points with Heidelberg but with a slightly inferior goal difference) but was elevated into second spot thanks to Bentleigh’s 4-0 win against Heidelberg last Friday night.
Luke Adams returned to the starting eleven after missing the mid-week FFA Cup win against Frankston Pines due to international duties with New Zealand’s Under 20s. He replaced captain Michael Eagar, who missed the Werribee match having accumulating five yellow cards in the PS4 NPL Victoria in 2015 and therefore serving the mandatory one-match suspension.
Werribee City started the match the brighter of the two sides and would have taken the lead but for some timely saves from South goalkeeper Nikola Roganovic. As the half wore on, the home side got themselves back into the match and took the lead just before the half hour. Nick Epifano was released down the left side of the field and he honed in on goal before slipping the ball past the advancing David Thomson and into the back of the net.
Epifano was involved again early in the second half when he was brought down in the penalty area and the home side were awarded a penalty. Unfortunately for South, Thomson guessed the right way and saved Milos Lujic’s spot kick, with the centre-forward having also had a penalty saved mid-week against Frankston.
Iqi Jawadi and Epifano worked hard all game and were two of the key players in South’s quest to score a second goal and kill off the game. Epifano almost replicated his incredible goal against the Melbourne Knights in the FFA Cup on 5 June but the ball curled just wide of the far post and out for a goal kick.
Yellow cards were issued throughout the second half as Werribee pushed to level the scores and South threatened to kill the game off on the counter-attack. On 74 minutes, Werribee’s coach Nino Ragusa was sent off by the referee for dissent.
With time running out, Werribee pushed forward in search of an equalising goal. The five minutes of injury time were chaotic, with Roganovic required to make several interceptions, including tipping a goal-bound effort over his crossbar. The final whistle moments later confirmed a hard-fought but important 1-0 victory.
In the Under 20s, South Melbourne missed several opportunities to score as they drew 0-0 with Werribee City.
Second hosts first next Sunday 28 June as South Melbourne FC welcomes the Bentleigh Greens to Lakeside Stadium. Kick-off is at 5pm.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 1-0 WERRIBEE CITY (HT: 1-0)
1-0: Nick Epifano (29′)
South Melbourne FC:
1. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 5. Luke ADAMS, 6. Tom LAKIC, 7. Nick EPIFANO, 8. Mathew THEODORE, 9. Milos LUJIC, 11. Brad NORTON (C), 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. Chris IRWIN (21. Jake BARKER-DAISH 87′), 16. Andy BEVIN (23. Andy KECOJEVIC 65′).
Unused Subs: 22. Fraser MacLAREN (GK), 19. Massimo PESCE, 27. Leigh MINOPOULOS.
25. David THOMSON (GK), 3. Ryan FILIPOVIC (C), 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 5. Dean TOMESKI, 6. Anthony RAGUSA, 8. Kobbie BOAHENE (15. Deang AGUEK 70′), 9. Evan BATSIS, 13. Milan SARIC, 16. Angus MARTIN (11. Bobby VIDANOSKI 70′), 19. Rob NAUMOSKI, 23. Steven CUDRIG.
Subs: 1. Frano Saric (GK), 2. Michael SIMMS.
SMFC Fix Hellas Beer Man of the Match: Nikola Roganovic
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Sunday 21 June 2015