South Melbourne FC put in a clinical display to defeat Avondale FC 7-0 at Doyle Street Reserve on Saturday afternoon, keeping its quest to finish as Minor Premier well and truly alive.
Milos Lujic was the story of the day thanks to scoring a hat-trick of goals, whilst Nick Epifano, Iqi Jawadi and Andy Kecojevic all got on the scoresheet in a truly dominant performance. Two late red cards for Avondale’s Jason Principato and Anthony Fallone compounded a miserable day for the home side.
Chris Taylor’s men were wary of the challenge posed by Avondale, particularly at their unique little ground that had proven to be a difficult place to travel to in recent years. Avondale had also come from a goal down to draw 1-1 in the previous round away at League leaders Bentleigh Greens. South only managed a 1-0 victory in the earlier meeting between the two sides at Lakeside Stadium and was expecting another tough match.
Avondale skipper Jeff Fleming got South going when he unfortunately turned the ball into his own net midway through the first half, following a Nick Epifano free kick. Epifano was at it again shortly before half-time, when his low cross wasn’t controlled properly by goalkeeper Chris Maynard and Lujic was present at the back post to tap the ball into the back of the net. South went into the break 0-2 ahead and in control but kicked into another gear when the game restarted.
After 52 minutes, Epifano and Lujic combined again for the big striker to tap home his second goal of the game. The connection between the pair continues to grow and is currently on par with the Andy Brennan/Lujic combination that yielded so many results earlier in the season. Jawadi was then the beneficiary of a mistake from former South goalkeeper Maynard, who let the midfielder’s shot slip through his grasp and into the back of the net to make the score 0-4. Epifano himself then got on the scoresheet, finishing calmly after being put through by Mathew Theodore for his third goal in two matches.
Kecojevic was introduced as a substitute with six minutes remaining and made an immediate impact by scoring at the back post with his first touch. Fellow substitute David Stirton then won a penalty in injury time that Lujic scored by sending Maynard the wrong way with the spot kick. In the process, Lujic claimed his first hat-trick of the season and put the exclamation mark on a sensational day at Doyle Street.
Lujic’s hat-trick has moved his personal South Melbourne goal scoring tally to a staggering 41 goals from 51 League matches, with the overall record of an incredible 50 goals from 63 matches across all competitions since arriving at the start of 2014. Five more League goals will see him overtake Kimon Taliadoros (45 goals) in the top ten of South’s all-time top League goal scorers.
Fellow Minor Premiership challengers Bentleigh scored a late goal to sneak a 0-1 victory away against Northcote City on Saturday afternoon. The Greens remain three points ahead of South on the PS4 NPL Victoria ladder, however South has a game in hand. Furthermore, Taylor’s men now enjoy a significant goal difference advantage, with +30 in goal difference compared to Bentleigh’s +23.
South host Hume City this coming Wednesday 19 August in its catch-up match before hosting Northcote City in the final round this Sunday 23 August. Bentleigh concludes the home & away season with a home match against Oakleigh Cannons on Sunday.
Should both sides win all their remaining matches, they will finish level on points at the top of the ladder. However, with a +7 goal difference advantage and barring an unlikely huge win for Bentleigh in its last game, South can claim the Minor Premiership should it defeat both Hume City and Northcote.
It was further good news in the Under 20s, with South Melbourne defeating Avondale FC 0-2 thanks to goals from Tom Lakic and Nash Hussainy.
FINAL SCORE: AVONDALE FC 0-7 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-2)
0-1: Own Goal (11′)
0-2: Milos Lujic (34′)
0-3: Milos Lujic (62′)
0-4: Iqi Jawadi (64′)
0-5: Nick Epifano (65′)
0-6: Andy Kecojevic 85′)
0-7: Milos Lujic (90+4’p)
1. Chris MAYNARD (GK), 5. Jeff FLEMING (C), 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 11. Francesco STELLA, 13. Michele CRAZIA, 16. Matthew SANDERS, 18. Jonathan MUNOZ, 19. Jason PRINCIPATO (sent off 86′), 24. Daniel SLOVACEK (4. Jacob COLOSIMO 55’), 28. Anthony FALLONE (sent off 90+3′), 31. Omar AMMACHE (10. Burakhan KOCA 55’).
Unused Subs: 20. Frazer SIDDALL (GK), 17. Luke COLAIANNI, 37. Dean CAMPELJ.
Yellow Cards: Crazia 48’, Principato 81’ & 86’, Fallone 77’.
Red Cards: Principato 86’, Fallone 90+3
South Melbourne FC:
1. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 5. Luke ADAMS, 7. Nick EPIFANO (23. Andy KECOJEVIC 84’), 8. Mathew THEODORE (10. David STIRTON 77’), 9. Milos LUJIC, 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 27. Leigh MINOPOULOS (14. Chris IRWIN 71’), 77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS.
Unused Subs: 22. Fraser MacLAREN (GK), 16. Andy BEVIN.
Yellow cards: None.
Red cards: None.
SMFC Fix Hellas Beer Man of the Match: Milos Lujic
Venue: Doyle Street Reserve
Date: Saturday 15 August 2015