South within touching distance of title
Picture: Cindy Nitsos
by Daniel Campos @francisfields
South Melbourne is one win away from sealing back to back PS4 NPL Victoria titles after a 5-2 win against Hume City at Lakeside Stadium on Wednesday night.
The intensity commenced right from kick-off with South having more of the ball and trying to edge play out wide to the left with Nick Epifano on the end of insisting pass from the backline.
Looking rather flat than usual in the first half hour, South Melbourne began to test the waters into the Hume's centre of defence and on 26 minutes stalwart Milos Lujic found himself fending off his immediate marker and a split pass to assist left wing Nick Epifano finish to his far post to beat Chris Oldfield for the game opener.
South Melbourne's goal could have turned the tables around with Hume intending to play deep courtesy of Issy Erdogan in the middle.
Just before the break Hume showed early signs of desperation with late fouls awarded. One of them resulting in an indirect free kick but saw the first of two scrambles in Chris Oldfield's 6-yard area with defender Michael Eagar getting in the end for the finishing touch to extend South's lead to two.
Lou Acevski brought on Newman and Pavlak for Clark and Erdogan at half time and the substitutions showed some early signs giving more options to play out wide numerically. Shane Rexhepi within minutes was on the end of a stinging header going wide.
On 54 minutes Theo Markelis got his reward by pausing the ball and finding space, cutting back to find Ivan Pavlak and Jai Ingham doing the rest with easiest of finishes for 2-1. Hume City reduced the deficit.
South Melbourne responded soon after with Leigh Minopoulos picking out Milos Lujic with a cross from the right for 3-1.
Four minutes later Nick Epifano went on a slalom dribble taking his marker one side, then the other, left and right with his tight dribbling enough for him to find space for a beautiful top corner finish and 4-1.
Milos Lujic again showed no mercy with his presence in the front third. His clever lay-off for Iqbal Jawadi
to find himself in position for South's fifth. Hume keeper Chris Oldfield saved the shot though slipping into the goal line and it meant South further extended their lead.
With high hopes into the last round of the NPL season and the crowd faithful in full voice, South Melbourne looked comfortable for the remainder of the night.
Defender and one of the scorers on the night Michael Eagar of South Melbourne spoke afterwards, "Hume are not an easy side, they've progressed to the next round of the FFA Cup. They don't give up and the score you could say was harsh to be honest," Eagar said.
"But we stuck to our plan because we want the minor premiership and we want to win the whole thing."
"It doesn't matter who scores (smiles), tonight I got on the end of one goal but as a team we are not only growing stronger, we're performing better and better I believe".
The result means everything to play for in the final round this weekend with South Melbourne equal on points with Bentleigh Greens in the race for the 2015 NPL Victoria title.
South Melbourne 5 (Nick Epifano 27', 65', Michael Eagar 45', Milos Lujic 61', Iqbal Jawadi 76') beat Hume City 2 (Jai Ingham 55', Marcus Schroen 90+3') at Lakeside Stadium, South Melbourne.
South Melbourne:1 Nikola ROGANOVIC (GK), 2 Tim MALA, 4 Michael EAGAR, 5 Luke ADAMS, 7 Nick EPIFANO, 8 Matthew THEODORE, 9 Milos LUJIC, 11 Brad NORTON, 12 Iqbal JAWADI, 27 Leigh MINOPOULOS, 77 Steve HATZIKOSTAS.
Substitutes: 10. David STIRTON, 14. Chris IRWIN, 21. Jake BARKER-DAISH, 22. Fraser MACLAREN, 23. Andy KECOJEVIC
Hume City: 1. Chris OLDFIELD (GK), 2. Daniel CHABAANI, 3. Shaun TIMMINS,4. Isyan ERDOGAN (11. Ivan PAVLAK 46'),5. Petar FRANJIC, 7. Jai INGHAM, 8. Theo MARKELIS, 12. Daniel CLARK (15. Liam NEWMAN 46'), 13. Shane REXHEPI, 17. Marcus SCHROEN, 39. Nick HEGARTY.
Substitutes: 11. Ivan PAVLAK, 15. Liam NEWMAN, 21. Niko JACKSON, 23. Josh MARKOVSKI, 20. Tom BANFIELD