(Photo by Kevin Juggins)
South Melbourne FC defeated Green Gully 4-2 in its final home & away match of the 2016 PS4 NPL Victoria season to head into the finals series on a three-game winning run. All four goals came in the second half as Chris Taylor’s side confirmed itself a home final in its next match.
South almost opened the scoring after just ten seconds but the chance was put wide of the goal. Arthur Papas’ Green Gully side opened the scoring midway through the first half when an unmarked Evan Christodoulou met the ball at the back post and fired a neat left-footed finish past Nikola Roganovic.
The home side was back on level terms shortly after the halftime break, when Leigh Minopoulos cut the ball back for Milos Lujic to notch up his 24th league goal of the 2016 campaign. South’s two centre-halves then combined to put the home side 2-1 ahead on 66 minutes. From Marcus Schroen’s corner kick, Luke Adams headed the ball back for the incoming Kristian Konstantinidis to hit home from just inside the area for his second goal of the season.
The three points were won on 76 minutes when Schroen put Lujic through to score his 25th league goal in 2016 and his 31st goal across all competitions. Schroen was next to get himself on the score sheet, with a neat turn and finish with the left foot on 84 minutes that gave goalkeeper Rani Dowisha no chance and gave South’s hardworking midfielder a second goal in successive weeks. Gully’s substitute striker Lewis Shannon scored arguably the goal of the game in injury time, volleying an unstoppable shot for a consolation goal for his side.
Apart from the excellent second half performance and securing the three points, the most pleasing aspect of the win was the first-team debut of Joshua Hodes. The 16-year-old right-back came off the bench late in the game to see out the remaining few minutes on the field, a just reward for a young defender that has had an exceptional season playing in the Under 20s. Hodes joins Rory Brian, Massimo Pesce and Andy Kecojevic as players from the U20s that have experienced first-team football in recent seasons.
South’s Under 20s had a solid 3-1 win over Green Gully, with goals coming from the usual suspects in Nashir Hussainy, Charly Layton and Giordano Marafioti. Brian MacNicol’s side have played one less game than leaders Richmond but the Eagles secured the championship with a 5-1 victory over Avondale FC. If South completes and wins its game in hand, they will finish their 2016 season only one point behind Richmond.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 4-2 GREEN GULLY (HT: 0-1)
0-1: Evan Christodoulou (24′)
1-1: Milos Lujic (57′)
2-1: Kristian Konstantinidis (66′)
3-1: Milos Lujic (76′)
4-1: Marcus Schroen (84′)
4-2: Lewis Shannon (90+1′)
South Melbourne FC:
1. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK) / 2. Tim MALA (16. Joshua HODES 89′), 3. Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS, 5. Luke ADAMS, 11. Brad NORTON (C) / 23. Matthew FOSCHINI (4. Michael EAGAR 89′), 18. Matthew MILLAR / 14. Chris IRWIN, 17. Marcus SCHROEN (22. Andy KECOJEVIC), 27. Leigh MINOPOULOS / 9. Milos LUJIC.
Unused Substitutes: 7. Nick EPIFANO, 21. Zaim ZENELI (GK).
Green Gully FC:
23. Rani DOWISHA (GK), 4. Daniel JONES, 5. Rodrigo VARGAS (C), 6. Callum RICHARDSON, 7. Tomas MURPHY, 8. George LAMBADARIDIS, 9. Anthony RAGUSA (17. Lewis SHANNON 66′), 11. Evan CHRISTODOULOU (18. Todd DEKKER 81′), 15. Jay DAVIES, 19. Luke WALKER (13. Yach BOL 72′), 38. Liam BOLAND.
Unused Subs: 1. Sebastian MATTEI (GK), 14. Aaron WARD.
SMFC Melbourne City Toyota Man of the Match: Marcus Schroen
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Sunday 21 August 2016