Epifano magic seals South win
By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC won its fourth straight National Premier League Victoria match with a hard-fought 2-0 victory against Hume City at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening. Following a 0-0 stalemate at halftime, Hume defender Izzy Erdogan’s own goal after 54 minutes and Nick Epifano’s emphatic finish after 68 minutes proved to be the difference as South maintained its six point lead over the Oakleigh Cannons at the top of the NPL ladder.
Chris Taylor’s side went into the match with a slender three point lead at the top of the NPL ladder following Oakleigh’s 1-5 victory against Green Gully on the Saturday and needed the three points against Hume for breathing space at the top of the table. However the first half was a rather dull affair, with neither side really stamping their authority on the match. Hume suffered a big loss when captain Shane Rexhepi hobbled off with a knee injury after only 17 minutes, making the task an even harder one for their coach Lou Acevski. South’s best chances in the half came from a fierce Epifano shot from distance that just flew over Chris Oldfield’s crossbar and when an unmarked Jamie Reed failed to properly control the ball at the back post, allowing for Oldfield to save. Hume hit the post twice in the first half, firstly from Erdogan and secondly from John Sapazovski.
Both sides showed more intent in the second half and luckily for South they got the breakthrough goal shortly before the hour mark when Erdogan deflected Epifano’s low cross from the right past Oldfield and into the back of the net. Hume nearly levelled on the hour mark when Christopher Cristaldo’s effort hit the crossbar and stayed out, making it the third time in the match that the away side had hit the woodwork. Unfortunately for Hume, those missed chances came back to haunt them when in the move of the match, Iqi Jawadi played a nice one-two before cutting the ball back from the left side for an unmarked Epifano to steer the ball into the back of the net from inside the penalty area. The final result confirmed South goalkeeper Jason Saldaris’ tenth clean sheet in 17 League matches and his twelfth clean sheet in the 20 League and Cup matches he has played in 2014.
Post-match, Taylor noted how his side lacked fluency in the first half but won the game due to “a couple of pieces of individual brilliance.” Right-back Tim Mala was pleased with the result and added ahead of next weekend’s derby against the Melbourne Knights that “we all need to be ready for that one… it’s a very important game.”
There was further good news in the NPL 20s as South Melbourne smashed Hume City 5-0, with the goal scorers being Eric Hauser (2), Josh Markovski, Alex Sporea and Josh Meaker.
South Melbourne FC’s next match is a huge derby meeting with the Melbourne Knights at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday 20 July, with kick-off at 5PM.
FINAL SCORE: SOUTH MELBOURNE 2-0 HUME CITY (HT: 0-0)
1-0: Own Goal (54′)
2-0: Nick Epifano (68′)
South Melbourne FC:
1. Jason SALDARIS (GK), 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 7. Nick EPIFANO (11. Brad NORTON 79′), 8. Mathew THEODORE (10. Tyson HOLMES 76′), 9. Milos LUJIC, 12. Iqi JAWADI, 14. James MUSA, 17. Jamie REED, 25. Shaun TIMMINS, 77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS.
1. Chris OLDFIELD (GK), 4. Izzy ERDOGAN, 13. Shane REXHEPI (43. Nikos JACKSON-TSEREXIDIS 17′), 8. Adel FESSEHA (9. Anthony PROIA 72′), 10. Richie CARDOZO, 14. Baki EFE, 17. Aaron TURNER, 18. John STOCJEVSKI (Adrian ROGLIS 72′), 23. Christopher CRISTALDO, 24. Jeremy WALKER, 44. John SAPAZOVSKI.
SMFC Man of the Match: Nick Epifano
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Date: Sunday 13 July 2014