Game Set and Match for Richmond
South Melbourne FC crumbled to its first PS4 NPL Victoria defeat in 2016 against a fast-finishing Richmond Eagles at Kevin Bartlett Reserve on Thursday night. Five goals in the last half hour of the game gave the home side its best ever win against South and condemned Chris Taylor’s side to a humiliating defeat. It is the first time since January 2000 that South has conceded six goals in a competitive match.
In its last two league matches, both against newly promoted sides (Bulleen and Richmond), South has gained only one point, which in itself was fairly fortunate. Whilst it had been very disappointing against Bulleen, South began the match against Richmond well and had the lead after ten minutes, when Nick Epifano’s low drive from the left deflected off Richmond centre-half Geert-Arend Roorda and into the back of the net.
Richmond centre-forward Nick Niagoran sent a warning sign to South by hitting the crossbar with a header before his low drive across goal was flicked home by Liam Flynn for the equalising goal. There was some controversy with the goal as it appeared that the referee had missed a shirt pull on Epifano that should have resulted in a South free kick. South hit back and regained the advantage via a well-taken Epifano penalty following Bryan Bran’s soft foul on Milos Lujic in the penalty box.
Lujic himself got on the scoresheet seven minutes before the halftime break, latching onto a Tim Mala long ball over the Richmond defence and slotting past Tapia for his 50th league goal in South Melbourne colours. Mathew Theodore had a great chance to put South three goals ahead but Tapia made a fine save, keeping the score to 1-3 at the halftime break.
South looked to close the game off in the second half and everything seemed to be fine until just after the hour mark. Richmond rightly felt aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty for a handball in the box before Niagoran turned Michael Eagar inside out and tucked the ball past Nikola Roganovic for a well-deserved goal.
Two minutes later, Niagoran’s back-post header fell perfectly for Nick Kokolakis to smash home the equalising goal before Richmond did eventually get a penalty for a handball in the area by Matthew Millar. 2015 South player Jake Barker-Daish sent Roganovic the wrong way with his spot-kick and all of a sudden the home side was 4-3 ahead and playing fantastic football.
Kokolakis put Barker-Daish through on 83 minutes to make the score 5-3 before Niagoran was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence. Seven minutes of injury time was initially awarded but that turned into nine minutes partly due to substitutions made. As South pushed forward trying in vain to get back into the match, Flynn wrapped up a remarkable game by springing the offside trap and scoring his second goal with the final kick of the game, confirming an incredible 6-3 win for his side.
There was further frustration in the Under 20s, with Brian MacNicol’s side unable to break the deadlock in a game that finished 0-0 with Richmond.
South needs to re-group quickly before the tough assignment against Hume City at ABD Stadium next Saturday night.
FINAL SCORE: RICHMOND EAGLES 6-3 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 1-3)
0-1: Geert-Arend Roorda own goal (10′)
1-1: Liam Flynn (25′)
1-2: Nick Epifano (33’p)
1-3: Milos Lujic (38′)
2-3: Nick Niagoran (63′)
3-3: Nick Kokolakis (65′)
4-3: Jake Barker-Daish (73’p)
5-3: Jake Barker-Daish (83′)
6-3: Liam Flynn (90+9′)
Richmond Eagles FC:
20. Gian TAPIA (GK), 5. Geert-Arend ROORDA, 6. Peter SAWAN (19. Brendan RICHARDSON 55′), 7. Hamlet ARMENIAN (4. Travis CHALK-HATTON 90+4′), 8. Jake BARKER-DAISH, 9. Nick NIAGIORAN (sent off 87′), 11. Liam FLYNN, 13. Bryan BRAN, 14. Kris KIOUSSIS, 18. Jordan SEETO, 22. Nick KOKOLAKIS (15. Jay KELLY 90′).
Unused Subs: 1. Christian ROSSI (GK), 16. Nicholas POPOVICH.
South Melbourne FC:
1. Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK) / 2. Tim MALA (27. Leigh MINOPOULOS 76′), 4. Michael EAGAR (C), 5. Luke ADAMS, 11. Brad NORTON / 23. Matthew FOSCHINI (14. Chris IRWIN 90+5′), 8. Mathew THEODORE (77. Stephen HATZIKOSTAS 64′) / 18. Matthew MILLAR, 17. Marcus SCHROEN, 7. Nick EPIFANO / 9. Milos LUJIC.
Unused Subs: 3. Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS, 21. Zaim ZENELI (GK).
SMFC Melbourne City Toyota Man of the Match: Marcus Schroen
Venue: Kevin Bartlett Reserve
Date: Thursday 24 March 2016