On Sunday afternoon South Melbourne hosted St Albans in round 18 of the 2017 Victorian National Premier League season.
South were in red hot form, and coming off a 3-0 win at AAMI Park against top of the table Heidelberg United were looking to claim top spot for themselves. A struggling St Albans side, sitting dead last on the table, were desperate to take some points out of this fixture at Lakeside to keep their survival hopes alive.
Leigh Minopoulos come into the starting eleven replacing an injured Milos Luijc, while Stefan Zinni replaced the suspended Jesse Daley. Meanwhile Matthew Foschini lined up for his 50th match for the club. Before the match got under way there was a minute’s silence observed for former South great Ernie Ackerley who passed away recently, and for Tony Clarke – the police officer whose name was on the perpetual trophy on offer to the winner.
Once proceedings got under way South Melbourne quickly asserted its dominance and by the 18th minute had taken the lead. Matt Foschini played a ball into the box from midfield that was headed on by Luke Adams to Matthew Millar, who volleyed the ball into the back of the net. Two minutes later South scored its second; this time Brad Norton squared the ball for Leigh Minopoulos to fire home.
South continued its high pressing game after that and in the 28th minute Nick Epifano played through South captain Norton on goal whose shot just got past the St Albans goalkeeper who got a hand on the shot. As half time drew near, Stefan Zinni played a beautiful ball across the park to Epifano who rounded the keeper and finished into the empty net to give South a 4-0 lead in the 43rd minute.
Just before half time St Albans scored from a corner, with Calvina Mbarga heading home to give St Albans a small chance of getting something out of the game. St Albans started the second half better than the first, by not allowing South into their defensive third so easily. In the 61st minute, Epifano was subbed off by Bardhi Hysolli.
South managed to break down the St Albans defence again in the 68th minute when Zinni put In a cross to an unmarked Minopoulos in the six yard box, who scored his second goal of the afternoon with a cool finish to give South a 5-1 lead. Three minutes later, Millar scored an absolute scorcher from long range going into the bottom left corner to extend the lead to 6-1, also scoring his second goal of the afternoon. After the goal South’s new Spanish striker David Barca Moreno come on to make his South debut replacing Marcus Schroen. In the 80th minute South youth player Giordano Marafioti was subbed on for his second senior game of the season replacing Millar.
In the 85th minutes Nicola Roganovic sent a long kick down the field to Moreno who controlled the ball with his feet and then slid the ball past the oncoming goalkeeper to score his first goal for South and extend the lead to 7-1. As the game drew to a close Marafioti won South a penalty by drawing a handball from a St Albans defender. Minopoulos stepped up and fired the ball into the roof of the net to complete his hat trick, completing an 8-1 rout for South.
That result saw South Melbourne move into top position on the league table on goal difference from Heidelberg. Earlier in the day South Melbourne’s u20s ran out 4-0 winners against St Albans.
South next match is on Thursday night at Jack Edwards Reserve in the Dockerty Cup semi-final against Bentleigh Greens. We hope to see all fans there. Kick-off is at 7.30.
South Melbourne 8
(Matt Millar 18, 71, Leigh Minopoulos 20, 68, 87 (pen), Brad Norton 28, Nick Epifano 42, David Barca Moreno 85)
St Albans 1