South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

South diffuse Cannons to remain top

South diffuse Cannons to remain top

On Sunday afternoon South Melbourne hosted the Oakleigh Cannons in round 19 of the 2017 Victorian National Premier League season. South Melbourne came into the fixture on a short turnaround, after playing Bentleigh Greens in the Dockerty Cup semi-final only 60 hours earlier.

South changed its starting eleven going into this league fixture, welcoming back Milos Lujic and Nick Epifano from injury to replace David Moreno and Leigh Minopoulos. Oakleigh were coming into this match off the back of a 2-0 away win against Heidelberg United, and looking to get a win to keep their finals hopes alive.

South started the contest the stronger. Epifano cut out a pass in midfield and knocked the ball forward to Matthew Millar who got himself into a one on one position with Oakleigh goalkeeper John Honos; unfortunately Millar slid his shot into the post. Oakleigh then created two half chances, with both shots from outside the penalty area going high and wide of the goal.

Oakleigh then carved out their best chance of the first 20 minutes of the game, a one on one opportunity falling to Giueseppe Marafioti whose shot was denied by Nicola Roganovic. Gaining confidence, Oakleigh continued to apply pressure on the South defence and create half chances. Against the run of play, Epifano played a ball into the area for Luijc who fired the ball over the bar. Just before halftime Goran Zoric had a chance to send Oakleigh into the break with the lead but his rebounded shot went wide of Roganovic’s far post.

Chris Taylor opted to make a change at half time, with Stefan Zinni coming on replacing Marcus Schroen. South came out well in the second half and instantly lifted the tempo of the game. They nevertheless had to bide their time in creating a clear cut opportunity. In the 68th minute that time arrived, when Luijc played a through ball in on goal for Zinni, whose first touch let him down and with Honos managing to smother the ball. In that sequence of play, Honos copped an accidental boot to the face that led to a seven minute delay in play as the Oakleigh medics patched Honos up so he could return to play.

Once play got back underway, Brad Norton played Epifano through on goal; Epifano did well to get into the box and draw a foul from Oakleigh defender Janiel to earn South a penalty with ten minutes remaining. Luijc stepped up for South and fired his penalty straight down the middle, giving South a 1-0 lead while bagging his 11th goal of the league season.

Oakleigh would push forward desperately to try and salvage something out of the game after South scored. The 4th official’s board showed seven minutes of additional time that left all South fans bitting their fingernails. Epifano would come off late in the game replaced by Tim Mala. Oakleigh had a corner right at the end of the game and it looked to the naked eye that Oakleigh had scored instead it was an Oakleigh player who went rolling into the back of the net and not the ball, and South would clear and hold out for a 1-0 win to keep them top of the league with a game in hand.

South now move on to play an up and down Green Gully at Lakeside Stadium next Sunday.

South Melbourne 1 (Luijc 80Pen)
Oakleigh Cannons 0

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