Lucky South Melbourne draws first blood against rivals
By Ahmed Yussuf (@ahmedyussuf10)
South Melbourne has taken the first points of the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria season, defeating last year’s runner-up Oakleigh Cannons 1-0 in front of a 3523-strong crowd at Lakeside Stadium.
An own goal separated the sides after a Milos Lujic shot was saved by Oakleigh goalkeeper John Honos, only to ricochet back off of defender Adam Le Cornu, and into the net.
Oakleigh had the first real chance of the game with Dean Piemonte bursting his way into the box, only to scuff a shot into the arms of Honos.
Momentum shifted between the two combatants, with both teams having their share of chances.
But it wasn’t until the 24th minute when one side finally broke through.
A brilliant floating cross from Nick Epifano found Milos Lujic in the middle, who connected well with the ball, only to be denied by a reflex save by John Honos, before deflecting off of Le Cornu and bouncing back into the goal.
South pushed on after the goal, and almost found another breakthrough in the 40th minute with a through ball to Lujic almost opening him up, but a wonderful sliding tackle by Le Cornu preventing it.
But the final few minutes of the first half were all Oakleigh’s, with a Steve Pantelidis volley flashing across the face of goal, and a Goran Zoric pass finding new signing Ben Clarke, whose shot cannoned off the crossbar.
Oakleigh started the second half as it finished it, with Clarke running rampant down the right wing.
It almost paid off ten minutes into the second half, with a Clarke ball from the right wing finding Lampros Honos, who forced a solid save out of South ‘keeper Nikola Roganovic.
South pushed back, but was finding it hard to get past a determined Oakleigh backline.
With 15 minutes to go, Oakleigh’s persistence almost paid off through yet another Clarke run.
He broke free, clear on goal, only to be dragged down outside the area by Kristian Konstantinidis, with the South defender earning himself a yellow card.
There were shouts for a penalty but they were denied by the referee, who ruled initial contact was made outside the area.
Oakleigh pushed on, but couldn’t find its way past a solid South defence.
The defending champions had a chance to double their lead late in the game, when an acrobatic scissor kick by golden boot winner Milos Lujic flashed wide of goal.
But it was injury time when the game sparked to life.
Clarke was yet again dragged down by South defenders after making a break past the defence.
The resulting free kick, taken by Dusan Bosnjak, looked destined for the net, only to be touched onto the crossbar by Roganovic, and out for a corner.
An acrobatic double save by Roganovic and a goal line clearance made the points safe for Oakleigh, who seemed cursed in the final third.
The match in front of a 3523-strong crowd at Lakeside Stadium opened Round 1 of the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria, with attention now turning to Knights Stadium and Kingston Heath Soccer Complex, where Melbourne Knights play Avondale FC, and Bentleigh Greens play North Geelong Warriors on Friday night.
South Melbourne 1 (Le Cornu 23′ OG) defeated Oakleigh Cannons 0 at Lakeside Stadium, Albert Park
South Melbourne: 1. Nikola ROGANOVIC, 2. Tim MALA, 3. Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS, 4. Michael EAGAR, 5. Luke ADAMS, 7. Nick EPIFANO, 9. Milos LUJIC, 20. David STRITON (13. Dane MILOVANOVIC 59’), 11. Brad NORTON, 22. Iqi JAWADI, 27. Leigh MINOPOULOS (17. Andy BRENNAN 73’)
Unused Sub(s): 21 Jason GICCOMINATO, 6. Bonel OBRADOVIC, 15. Cody MARTINDALE,
Yellow Card(s): Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS 75’, Michael EAGAR 21’, Milos LUJIC 60’, Iqi JAWADI 66’
Red Card(s): Nil
Oakleigh Cannons: 76. John HONOS, 18. Adam LE CORNU, 6. Steve PANTELIDIS, 4. Brian VANEGA (8. Dusan BOSNJAK 50’), 7. Ben CLARKE, 2. Adrian CHIAPETTA, 19. Goran ZORIC, 23. Dominic D’ANGELO, 11. Evan CHRISTODOULOU (12. Tremayne SADLER 80’), 10. Dean PIEMONTE (15. Jake McLEAN 70’), 26. Lampros HONOS
Unused Sub(s): 35. Evan KRALOGLOU, 22. George KROMMIDAS
Yellow Card(s): Adam LE CORNU 36’, Adrian CHIAPETTA 46’
Red Card(s): Nil
Image: Cindy Nitsos