Lujic late show puts South back on track
By Billy Green
South Melbourne has defeated Green Gully after a Milos Lujic goal in the 92nd minute broke the visitors' hearts.
After two consecutive losses to Bentleigh Greens and Heidelberg United in previous weeks, the win over the in-form Gully side secures South second place on the NPL ladder.
In the 2nd minute, Luc Jeggo took the first shot of the night from a free kick, but it didn’t trouble South's 'keeper Roganovic as it drifted over the crossbar.
Soon after, Alon Blumgart found himself with space in a similar position, but his strike floated wide of the far post.
Inside 11 minutes South claimed the first goal, with Leigh Minopoulos receiving a ball wide on the break, and acutely dinking it behind the rushing defence to David Stirton, who turned and scored between three Gully defenders.
As the half progressed, there was very little between the teams, but Matthew Breeze hammered a low ball across the goal-face on 20 minutes to Liam Boland, who made no mistake in claiming the equaliser.
The celebrations were short-lived as Stirton took a corner for South and then receiving the rebound from the clearance.
With plenty of time ahead of him, he casually slammed it low into the bottom-right corner of goals for his second.
Gully 'keeper Rani Dowisha looked to have saved it, but dragged the ball back marginally behind the line as he slid across goal, restoring the hosts' one-goal lead.
In the 38th minute, South had a chance to put itself further ahead as Minopoulos again crossed it into Lujic, but from metres out his deflection went over the crossbar.
It took only three minutes into the second half for Gully to get the equaliser after Evan Christodoulou beat two defenders to the left of goal, and curved the ball in at the far post.
Dual A-League champion defender Roddy Vargas continued to choke Lujic of any meaningful possession as South was forced to find other avenues to goal.
Green Gully had a few close attempts early in the half, with Simon Tolli finding space near the penalty area but finishing with a poor strike, while soon after Liam Boland made an attempt from outside the box and the ball landed comfortably in the arms of Roganovic.
Minopoulos continued to look threatening in attack, and inside 77 minutes made a swift break through the Gully defence, but to the agony of the home crowd finished well above the crossbar.
South began to dominate the end of the half, with the Gully midfield playing deep in defence, desperately trying to prevent a late goal.
In the 90th minute, after a free kick against Vargas, Lujic found himself on the end of a ball from youngster Andy Kecojevic, but he missed his header marginally wide.
Minutes into injury time, Minopoulos placed an exquisite through ball amongst a frenzied defence to the man who had been held quiet for the preceding 90 minutes of play by a near-perfect Vargas performance.
Lujic received the ball, and easily slotted a goal past the keeper to give them the lead as the hosts’ crowd erupted.
This weekend, both teams face difficult opposition, with Gully up against Heidelberg United, while South plays Melbourne Knights.
Photo: South Melbourne FC
South Melbourne FC 3 (Stirton 11’ 22’, Lujic 90+2’) defeated Green Gully SC 2 (Boland 20’, Christodoulou 48’) at Lakeside Stadium
South Melbourne FC: 1. Nikola ROGANOVIC, 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR, 8. Mathew THEODORE (16. Andy BEVIN 77’), 9. Milos LUJIC, 10. David STIRTON (23. Andy KECOJEVIC 68’), 11. Brad NORTON (21. Jake BARKER-DAISH 77’), 12. Iqbal JAWADI, 14. Chris IRWIN, 27. Leigh MINOPOULOS, 77. Steve HATZIKOSTAS
Unused Sub(s): 6. Tom LAKIC, 22. Fraser MACLAREN
Yellow Card(s): Norton 44’, Jawadi 50’, Mala 65’, Irwin 84’
Red Card(s): Nil
Green Gully SC: 23. Rani DOWISHA, 2. Mathew REID, 4. Daniel JONES, 5. Rodrigo VARGAS, 9. Evan CHRISTODOULOU, 10. Rinor MURIQI (16. Simon TOLLI 39’), 11. Matthew BREEZE, 17. Alon BLUMGART, 20. Hakeem ALORAIBI, 21. Luc JEGGO (7. Liam SCOTT 59’), 38. Liam BOLAND
Unused sub(s): 12. Mitchell TRAJCEVSKI, 8. Tomas MURPHY, 3. Aaron COHEN
Yellow card(s): Jones 11’, Reid 29’, Christodoulou 47’, Scott 78’, Vargas 90’
Red card(s): Nil