South Melbourne FC continued its excellent start to its 2016 PS4 NPL Victoria with a professional 4-0 victory against Northcote City at John Cain Reserve on Saturday afternoon. Two goals from Marcus Schroen, a penalty to Nick Epifano and a late goal from Milos Lujic gave South two wins from its opening two matches and a +10 goal difference.
Chris Taylor and his side came into Saturday’s game expecting a difficult time. Many have predicted Northcote to struggle in 2016 but South themselves historically had been very average against Northcote, only defeating them twice in seven attempts at John Cain Reserve.
The away side opened the scoring after ten minutes. Matthew Millar hit a fierce shot across goal that beat goalkeeper Phillip Petrovski but not the far post and the ball rebounded back to South’s right-sided midfielder. Millar then cut the ball back into the penalty area and referee Alex King awarded a spot kick after spotting a handball. Petrovski guessed the right way for the spot kick but couldn’t stop Epifano from registering the first goal of the afternoon.
The home side had a wonderful chance to level when, following a scramble in the South penalty area, referee King spotted an infringement by goalkeeper Nikola Roganovic and issued the custodian with a yellow card. Michael Karvouniaris stepped up to take Northcote’s spot kick but Roganovic dived to his left and made the all-important block to preserve his clean sheet and keep South’s lead intact. Karvounaris almost levelled a short time later with a header that beat Roganovic but not the crossbar as South went into the halftime break narrowly ahead.
South doubled its lead early in the second half, when Millar played Schroen through to score his first goal in a South Melbourne shirt. With a 2-0 lead, the three points appeared confirmed for South, though a couple of lapses at the back almost allowed Northcote through to pull a goal back. Lujic confirmed the three points twelve minutes from time by scoring a tap-in following a scramble in the box, before Schroen scored his second goal of the afternoon three minutes from the end to make the final score 4-0.
Saturday’s win was Chris Taylor’s 50th league win as South Melbourne coach (in 73 matches), an overall winning record of 68%. It was also South’s best win against Northcote since the clubs first met in 2010.
Milos Lujic’s goal was his 48th league goal in 58 league games for South, putting him in equal tenth with the great Dougy Brown (1983-1986) on South’s all-time top goal scorers in league competition.
In the Under 20s, Northcote City and South Melbourne drew 3-3. South took an early 2-0 lead with a penalty from Milan Jovanovic (2′) and a goal at the back post from Nashir Hussainy (18′), however Northcote scored two goals to be level at the halftime break. Luke Eyles (50′) restored South’s lead with a fantastic strike but Northcote again levelled in what was a free-flowing and end-to-end match.
FINAL SCORE: NORTHCOTE CITY 0-4 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-1)
0-1: Nick Epifano (10’p)
0-2: Marcus Schroen (50′)
0-3: Milos Lujic (78′)
0-4: Marcus Schroen (87′)
Northcote City FC:
1. Phillip PETROVSKI (GK), 2. Jordan WILKES, 4. Gregory LOMBARDO (C), 6. Aaron WARD (15. Todd DEKKER 12′), 7. Michael CUNNINGHAM, 11. Anthony RIZK, 17. Aron HANDAKAS, 19. Ryan GO, 20. Nick TZOULIS, 21. Michael KARVOUNIARIS, 23. Jonathan BOUNAS.
Other Used Subs: 8. Josh BERRIOS, 14. Anthony RAMZY.
Unused Subs: 16. Steven SIFINOS, 25. Luke GAVALAS (GK).
South Melbourne FC:
1. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK) / 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 5. Luke ADAMS, 11. Brad NORTON / 23. Matthew FOSCHINI (8. Mathew THEODORE 70′), 99. Iqi JAWADI / 18. Matthew MILLAR, 7. Nick EPIFANO, 17. Marcus SCHROEN / 9. Milos LUJIC (22. Andy KECOJEVIC 81′).
Unused Subs: 3. Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS, 77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS, 33. Rory BRIAN (GK).
Melbourne City Toyota Man of the Match: Marcus Schroen
Venue: John Cain Reserve
Date: Saturday 27 February 2016