South salvages draw to remain undefeated at Port

By: MARK GOJSZYK

Port Melbourne and South Melbourne have played out a thrilling 2-2 draw JL Murphy Reserve on Friday night, with every goal coming from a set-piece.
 
Shaun Kelly and Alan Kearney’s efforts for Port were sandwiched in between Luke Adams’ opener and Brad Norton’s controversial late equaliser, with an alleged handball from Milos Lujic in the build-up going undetected by referee Shaun Evans.
 
South looked dangerous right from kick-off, when Lujic took a few clever touches and teed up Barker-Daish for a blocked shot.
 
It took just 17 minutes for the visitors to capitalise on their early ascendency, with Dane Milovanovic driving in a set-piece from nearly half-way which Adams beat Stjepan Gal to, nodding home into an empty net.
 
The Sharks should have equalised just five minutes later when Shaun Kelly marauded forward from the centre of defence to play through Erhan Yalaz into a one-on-one situation against Roganovic, but the youngster seemingly panicked and missed wide of the post.
 
The hosts were momentarily galvanised, with Ryan Opperman also breaking through on goal before being shown wide by a defender, but the subsequent clearance landed to Kearney who shot straight at the ‘keeper.
 
Just before half time short corner-kick saw Kamal Ibrahim pick up the ball near the 18-yard-box and cross it into a dangerous area, with Kelly rising highest but missing agonisingly wide from point blank range.
 
South burst out of the blocks after the break, creating a few decent sights at goal, with Brad Norton bombing forward and launching a shot over the bar, while Leigh Minopoulos lashed wide from a similar position.
 
Port, for all their huffing and puffing, finally equalised in the 54th minute when Kelly made amends for his earlier miss by heading home Riccobene’s inswinging corner.
 
The home side had well and truly played themselves into the contest and somehow didn’t take the lead, again fluffing a clear-cut opportunity.
 
This time it was Trent Rixon – like Yalaz in the first half – who missed a one-on-one with Roganovic, following Kearney’s defence splitting ball.
 
The latter would be in the thick of the action again, playing Ibrahim through on goal who was taken down by Adams in the box – going from goal-scoring hero to penalty conceding villain.
 
Kearney stepped up confidently to the spot, smashing home the penalty with just over 10 minutes remaining on the clock.
 
In response, South threw numbers forward and a passage of play led to howls of handball in the box, which the referee waved away.
 
It was ironic then that the eventual equaliser near the 90th minute also involved allegations of handball the other way, with a corner kick coming off Milos Lujic before Brad Norton struck home the dramatic equaliser
 
With moments remaining, Andy Brennan - fresh from signing a contract with Newcastle Jets - had a shot deflect off a defender and almost fool Gal.
 
In one of the last actions of the game, Port had the chance to snatch victory when Nicholas Krousoratis dribbled into the box and found Brent Fisher, whose shot flashed wide of the goal.
 
Port Melbourne Sharks 2 (Kelly 54’, Kearney 78’) drew with South Melbourne 2 (Adams, Norton) at JL Murphy Reserve
 
Port Melbourne: 1. Stjepan Gal, 16. Alan Kearney, 14. Kamal Ibrahim, 22. Ryan Opperman (11. Nicholas Krousoratis 52’), 6. Chris Grossman, 9. Trent Rixon (8. Brent Fisher 71’), 2. Andrew Viola, 19. Shaun Kelly, 5. Nick Tzoulis (23. Connor Reddan 46’), 17. Erhan Yalaz, 3. James Riccobene
 
Unused Subs: 25. Michael Stark, 4. Tim Paton
 
Yellow Cards: Kearney 20’, Rixon 24’, Yalaz 52’, Grossman 86’
 
Red Cards: None
 
South Melbourne: 1. Nikola Roganovic, 2. Tim Mala, 4. Michael Eagar, 5. Luke Adams, 20. Nick Epifano, 9. Milos Lujic, 11. Brad Norton, 12. Iqi Jawadi, 13. Dane Milovanovic, 21. Jake Barker-Daish (23. Andy Kecojevic 80’), 27. Leigh Minopoulos (17. Andy Brennan 60’)
 
Subs: 22. Rory Brian, 6. Bonel Obradovic,
 
Yellow Cards: Adams 76’
 
Red Cards: None



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