Bentleigh overtook South on top of the 2016 Ps4 NPL Victoria ladder with a late 3-1 win at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Friday night.
South went into the game without right-back Tim Mala (sent off against Hume), centre-forward Milos Lujic (fifth yellow card against Hume) and coach Chris Taylor (sent from the touchlines against Hume). Leigh Minopoulos and Manuel Herrero both started up front as South went for a more attacking line-up against Bentleigh.
Minopoulos justified his place in the starting eleven just short of the half hour mark when he bundled the ball across the line following an excellent cross from Marcus Schroen. South went down to ten men just before the halftime break when centre-half Luke Adams was given a straight red card as last defender, having fouled Chris Lucas as the striker went through on goal.
The away side continued to play well in the second half, even with the disadvantage of one less player. Things seemed to swing back into South’s favour when Bentleigh substitute Kamal Ibrahim – who had only been on the field for a short amount of time – was given a straight red card for an apparent elbow on Matthew Millar. Minopoulos put substitute Chris Irwin through on goal with a brilliant flick but Bentleigh goalkeeper Ryan Scott made a vital save to prevent his team going 2-0 down.
The save proved crucial as Bentleigh scored all their goals late in the game to secure the three points and undo the fantastic work of the South players, who played for over an hour with ten men. Jack Webster levelled the scores with a header on 79 minutes, before Lucas played through substitute Matthew Thurtell to finish past Nikola Roganovic and put the Greens ahead. With South pushing forward in search of an equalising goal, Tyson Holmes scored in the fifth minute of injury time to seal the result.
Bentleigh currently lead South on the NPL Victoria ladder by two points. Both clubs have six matches remaining before the finals series, with 18 points up for grabs and with it the Premier’s Plate.
In the Under 20s, Bentleigh and SMFC drew 0-0.
South travels to Jack Edwards Reserve next Sunday 17 July to play the Oakleigh Cannons, with kick-off at 5:30pm.
FINAL SCORE: BENTLEIGH GREENS 3-1 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 0-1)
0-1: Leigh Minopoulos (27′)
1-1: Jack Webster (79′)
2-1: Matthew Thurtell (86′)
3-1: Tyson Holmes (90+5′)
Bentleigh Greens FC:
1. Ryan SCOTT (GK), 5. Jack WEBSTER, 8. Wayne WALLACE (C) (6. Liam McCORMICK 74′), 9. Chris LUCAS, 10. Tyson HOLMES, 11. Dion KIRK, 12. Joshua BRINDELL-SOUTH (18. Matthew THURTELL 74′), 16. Troy RUTHVEN, 22. Ryan PACZKOWSKI (14. Kamal IBRAHIM 55′ [sent off 59′]), 24. Luke PILKINGTON, 26. Lambros HONOS.
Unused Subs: 2. Nick APOSTOLOPOULOS, 21. Kile KENNEDY (GK).
South Melbourne FC:
1. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK) / 12. Amadu KOROMA (8. Mathew THEODORE 74′), 4. Michael EAGAR, 5. Luke ADAMS (sent off 41′), 11. Brad NORTON / 23. Matthew FOSCHINI / 17. Marcus SCHROEN, 18. Matthew MILLAR, 7. Nick EPIFANO / 27. Leigh MINOPOULOS (22. Andy KECOJEVIC 84′), 15. Manuel HERRERO (14. Chris IRWIN 56′).
Unused Subs: 21. Zaim ZENELI (GK), 77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS.
SMFC Melbourne City Toyota Man of the Match: Leigh Minopoulos
Venue: Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
Date: Friday 8 July 2016