South Melbourne FC earnt their first three points of season 2019, grinding out a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Dandenong City at Lakeside Stadium.
Both teams were hungry to bounce back from round 1 defeats and it was the home side who controlled the early possession. South should have broken the deadlock in the 4th minute when Krousoratis whipped in a low cross from the right flank to find Howard, but his close-range effort was comfortably saved.
South struggled to find attacking rhythm but held a solid defensive shape led by Luke Adams and Jake Marshall, who made several strong interceptions to prevent Dandenong from working into dangerous areas.
South had a penalty shout waved away in the 26th minute for a potential handball before the game turned on its head in the 35th. An incident behind play led to a straight red card for Dandenong defender James Kelly.
Dandenong were almost made to pay on the stroke of half time when Gerrie Sylaidos slipped a lovely reverse ball into the channel for Krousoratis, who’s low drive across goal cracked the inside of the post.
The theme continued in the second half, South Melbourne probing for openings against a well drilled Dandenong unit. Con Tangalakis looked to the bench for inspiration and by the 68th minute, all three substitutes were used. Marcus Schroen joined the fray along with debutants Zac Bates and Billy Konstantinidis.
The breakthrough finally came in 79th minute through dynamic youngster Gerrie Sylaidos after Dandenong scrambled away a corner. Sylaidos, who found the ball on the right edge of the 18-yard box, danced around a defender and powered a shot through bodies into the bottom left corner.
New number 9 Billy Konstantinidis almost doubled the lead just minutes later but was denied by the keeper as South looked to of finally found their groove.
Ten-man Dandenong City almost spoilt the party in the 88th minute as a long ball was flicked onto the dangerous Piemonte who found himself through on goal but was denied by Roganovic.
A massive three points for South Melbourne who now move into mid-table. The club will travel to Port Melbourne next Saturday full of confidence in search of back to back wins.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 1-0 DANDENONG CITY (HT: 0-0)
1-0: Gerrie Sylaidos (79′)
1. Nikola Roganovic (GK) / 2. Perry Lambropoulos, 4. Luke Adams, 5. Jake Marshall, 11. Brad Norton (c) / 8. Dean Bereveskos, 17. Ethan Gage (10. Marcus Schroen 62′) / 12. Nick Krousoratis, 45. Gerrie Sylaidos, 7. Giuseppe Marafioti (20. Zac Bates 62′) / 14. George Howard (9. Billy Konstantinidis 68′).
Unused Subs: 3. Kristian Konstantinidis, 23. Amir Jashari (GK).
Yellow Cards: Norton 40′, Gage 56′.
Coach: Con Tangalakis.
16. Kile Kennedy (GK), 3. Iqi Jawadi (20. Anthony Poljak 86′), 7. Shayan Alinejad, 8. Zac Thompson, 12. Shaun Filipovic (c) (9. Brayden Mann 59′), 17. Liam McCormick (10. Anthony Theo 56′), 19. James Kelly (sent off 36′), 23. Dean Piemonte, 26. Mark Ochieng, 36. Steven Topalovic, 55. Petar Franjic.
Unused Subs: 1. Alex Connell (GK), 13. Greg Lombardo.
Yellow Cards: Thompson 29′, Alinejad 32′, Mann 65′, Jawadi 75′, Topalovic 89′.
Coach: Zeljko Kuzman.