Two late goals from substitute Mathew Theodore and centre-forward Milos Lujic saw South Melbourne FC scrape an unlikely draw in its PS4 NPL Victoria match against FC Bulleen Lions at a packed Veneto Club on Monday night.
South returned to the venue for the first time since March 2007 and clearly struggled with the synthetic surface that had been laid on the Veneto Club since its last visit. Bulleen rightly used this to their advantage, starting very posititvely and taking the game to an opponent that had not conceded a league goal in 2016.
The home side took a deserved lead after ten minutes after a cross from the right found Sami Nour at the back post to score past Nikola Roganovic. Bulleen almost went 2-0 up shortly afterwards but Roganovic made an excellent double-save to deny Shayan Alinejad. The second goal eventually arrived after 19 minutes, when Takanori Nishimoto got on the end of a set piece to flick the ball past Roganovic and into the back of the net.
Coach Chris Taylor made a halftime switch, replacing Iqi Jawadi with Theodore. South settled in the second half but rarely troubled Bulleen goalkeeper Griffin McMaster and continued to ride its luck when the home side broke forward quickly. As the match pressed on, Taylor made another tactical switch by substituting Tim Mala off, switching Matthew Foschini to right back and bringing on Stephen Hatzikostas to replace Foschini in holding midfield.
Bulleen had a number of chances to finish South off, firstly when 2006 SMFC Championship player Gianni De Nittis forced a smart save by Roganovic at his near post. South’s custodian – who had been excellent all night – then almost gifted a goal to Bulleen after mistiming a clearance but he quickly got back to block Nour’s resultant shot. With fifteen minutes remaining, a wicked deflection initially wrong-footed Roganovic but again the goalkeeper made a vital save to deny Bulleen a third goal.
With six minutes of normal time remaining and amongst a sea of players in the Bulleen area, Theodore’s quick shot took a deflection and the ball looped over McMaster and into the back of the net. South was suddenly back in the match and still had time to score again. With the huge away support at the Veneto Club starting to raise its voice again, South pushed for another goal.
Four minutes later the comeback was complete when Lujic got to the ball before McMaster to head Nick Epifano’s cross into the unguarded Bulleen net to make the score 2-2. It was Lujic’s 49th league goal for SMFC in 60 league matches, which sees him overtake Dougy Brown in outright tenth place on South’s all-time leading goal scorers in league competition.
Despite being pegged back, Bulleen still should have won the game when substitute Rodrigo Covarrubias was through one-on-one but Roganovic again made a huge block to ensure that South would leave the Veneto Club with a point.
The news was better in the Under 20s as South Melbourne defeated FC Bulleen Lions 4-3 in another high-scoring match for Brian MacNicol’s side. South raced to a 3-0 halftime lead before just managing to hold off the home side in the second half. South’s goals were scored by Dean Nicolaidis, Leigh Minopoulos (penalty kick), Philzgerald M’baka and Giordano Marafioti.
There is a break in league football next weekend as the Fourth Round of FFA Cup qualifying begins. Keep an on smfc.com.au and South’s official social media pages for who our opponent will be and when the match will take place.
FINAL SCORE: FC BULLEEN LIONS 2-2 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 2-0)
1-0: Sami Nour (10′)
2-0: Takanori Nishimoto (19′)
2-1: Mathew Theodore (84′)
2-2: Milos Lujic (88′)
FC Bulleen Lions:
1. Griffin McMASTER (GK), 2. Eli LUTTMER, 3. Will ABBOTT, 6. Bardhi HYSOLLI (12. Rodrigo COVARRUBIAS 77′), 8. Matteo BALLAN (C), 10. Takanori NISHIMOTO, 11. Gianni DE NITTIS (20. Andrew MULLETT 61′), 13. Anthony COLOSIMO (31. Dylan BRESOLIN 29′), 17. Sami NOUR, 18. Felix ROSMAN, 19. Shayan ALINEJAD.
South Melbourne FC:
1. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK) / 2. Tim MALA (77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS 69′), 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 5. Luke ADAMS, 11. Brad NORTON / 23. Matthew FOSCHINI, 99. Iqi JAWADI (8. Mathew THEODORE 46′) / 18. Matthew MILLAR (22. Andy KECOJEVIC 72′), 17. Marcus SCHROEN, 7. Nick EPIFANO / 9. Milos LUJIC.
SMFC Melbourne City Toyota Man of the Match: Nikola Roganovic
Venue: David Barrow Stadium (Veneto Club)
Date: Monday 14 March 2016