South Melbourne FC’s 2015 season ended with a very disappointing 1-2 home defeat against Olympia FC at Lakeside Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Two first half goals from the Tasmanian Champions did the trick as Chris Taylor’s side were eliminated from the 2015 PS4 Australian NPL Playoffs at the Elimination Finals stage.
South went into the Olympia game without first-choice goalkeeper Nikola Roganovic, who remained sidelined following the injury he picked up against the Bentleigh Greens in the NPL Victoria Grand Final the previous Sunday. Midfielder Iqi Jawadi was also missing against Olympia after his red card in the Victorian Grand Final last week carried over into the Australian NPL Playoffs.
South were dealt with further bad news in the pre-game warmup on Saturday when Captain Michael Eagar rolled his ankle and was unable to play. As a result of those three absentees, Fraser MacLaren started in goal for South, Brad Norton partnered Luke Adams at centre-back, whilst Chris Irwin started in Norton’s usual position at left-back. David Stirton filled in for Jawadi.
Olympia took only three minutes to break through South’s makeshift defence, with Lachlan Nichols getting on the end of a free kick at the near post and heading the ball past MacLaren. Olympia then doubled their lead after half an hour, when Gavin Hoy dribbled past Irwin and Norton on the right side of the area before his low cross deflected off Tim Mala and into the net for an own goal. The Tasmanian Champions were now in complete control against a very disjointed South that had started very slowly. Irwin almost pulled a goal back before halftime but his shot hit the post and stayed out.
Taylor made changes at halftime and replaced Stirton and Mala with Andy Kecojevic and Dane Milovanovic, who made his first senior appearance since his horrific injury against the Oakleigh Cannons on 22 May. Nine minutes into the second half, Olympia were reduced to ten men when Shae Hickey was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card. South took full advantage of the extra man and got back into the game after the hour mark when Milos Lujic expertly headed Irwin’s cross over Olympia goalkeeper Sean Lewis and into the back of the net.
Despite having the extra man advantage and with half an hour to chase an equalising goal, South pressed but could not get past the very stubborn Olympia defence. Leigh Minopoulos created space for himself but had his shot blocked by Lewis, before Nick Epifano beat the goalkeeper but not the crossbar as the ball stayed out. With the match heading into injury time, Milovanovic hit a goal-bound shot that beat Lewis but was cleared off the goal line by one of his defenders. Luke Adams couldn’t put the rebounding shot into the back of the net and Olympia secured a famous win.
Olympia travels to Perth next week to face NPL WA Champions Bayswater City in the Semi Finals, whilst the 2015 season is now over for South. Although the FFV Community Shield, Dockerty Cup and Premier’s Plate (Minor Premiership) trophies were fantastic, a disappointing inaugural FFA Cup Round of 32 campaign, coupled with two poor NPL Finals losses over the last fortnight has taken the shine off what has otherwise been a very memorable 2015 season.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 1-2 OLYMPIA FC (HT: 0-2)
0-1: Lachlan Nichols (3′)
0-2: Tim Mala Own Goal (30′)
1-2: Milos Lujic (61′)
South Melbourne FC:
22. Fraser MacLAREN (GK), 2. Tim MALA (13. Dane MILOVANOVIC 46’), 5. Luke ADAMS, 7. Nick EPIFANO, 8. Mathew THEODORE, 9. Milos LUJIC, 10. David STIRTON (23. Andy KECOJEVIC 46’), 11. Brad NORTON (C), 14. Chris IRWIN (21. Jake BARKER-DAISH 82’), 27. Leigh MINOPOULOS, 77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS.
Subs not used: 6. Tom LAKIC, 24. Rory BRIAN (GK).
Yellow cards: Nil.
Red cards: Nil.
1. Sean LEWIS (GK), 3. Harry WOOLLEY (14. Jonathan GRIFFITHS 76’), 4. Shae HICKEY (sent off 54′), 5. Luke EYLES, 6. Nicholas MEARNS, 7. Warren WADAWU (13. Christian DI MARTINO 57’), 9. Emmanuel TSAKIRIS, 10. Gavin HOY, 11. Nicholas MEREDITH (19. Stuart PAGE 90’), 15. Lachlan NICHOLS, 16. Jake VANDERMAY (C).
Subs not used: 18. Jack CALLAN, 21. Spiros PARADISIS (GK).
Yellow cards: Hickey 22’, 54’, Meredith 51’, Hoy 69’.
Red cards: Hickey 54’.
SMFC Fix Hellas Beer Man of the Match: Chris Irwin
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Saturday 19 September 2015