South Melbourne defeated local rival Port Melbourne 2-1 on Sunday at Lakeside Stadium, and in the process moved up to third on the ladder and just a game off top spot.
South was coming off a massive high from their midweek cup match against Dandenong City, which saw them come back from 4-1 down to win 5-4 and secure their spot In the 2017 FFA Cup round of 32.
Meanwhile Port Melbourne, who were looking to stay in touch with the top six, were coming off the back of a 1-0 loss at home to ladder leaders Heidelberg United.
Luke Adams was back in the south starting 11 after missing the Cup match, taking the place of Luke Pavlou. Jesse Daley also found himself starting after being used as a second half substitute in the midweek cup match.
Port started the match well, capitalising on some poor defending from South, with Andreas Govas beating Nikola Roganovic at his near post to give Port Melbourne a 1-0 lead after 10 minutes.
Having fallen behind, South began battling back, and a free kick in the 14th minute whipped in by Jesse Daley saw vice-captain Michal Eagar head just wide.
Ten minutes later Govas found himself with a golden opportunity to double Port’s lead, but shot was aimed straight at Roganovic who stopped the shot with ease.
34 minutes in Matt Millar went on a run through the Port backline turning their defenders inside-out, but he was unable to put his shot on target. Four minutes later Marcus Schroen had a free kick on the edge of the area that was taken well, but the Port keeper did enough to turn the shot around the post for a corner.
Just before half time Millar hobbled off injured and was replaced by Pavlou. With the half drawing to a close South had one final chance to score, with Daley taking the chance and sending the teams into the break level at 1-1.
South came out on the front foot in the second half, dominating possession but not creating too many clear cut chances; Schroen’s shot high and wide from outside the box being the only highlight in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
On 65 minutes Milos Luijc had a golden chance to score off a Daley cross but fired his shot wide. South eventually took the lead in the 69th minute, when a perfect cross from Daley found Luijc who headed the ball home.
In the 76th minute Daley almost added a second goal to his name shooting just wide. Late in the game Tim Mala was sent off for South for a second yellow card leaving South fans biting their nails during the last five minutes of the match. From the resulting free kick Francesco Stalla drew out a world class save from Roganovic to preserve South’s lead.
Earlier that day, South Melbourne’s WNPL senior team ran out 2-0 winners beating Bayside United, with Lisa De Vanna scoring a double. South sit third on the WNPL ladder, just two points off first place.
South Melbourne 2 (Daley 45 Luijc 69)
Port Melbourne 1 (Govas 10)