Bumper crowd sees South win opener
By Tomasz Ng (@tomaszng07)
SOUTH Melbourne defeated traditional rival Heidelberg United 3-0 in the first ever National Premier Leagues (NPL) match, in front of 3175 fans at Olympic Village on Thursday night.
Mathew Theodore opened the scoring with a fine volley in the 12th minute, while Milos Lujic chipped the keeper less than 10 minutes later to put the visitors in control.
Heidelberg was unable to claw back the deficit despite having good spells of possession in the second half, and South Melbourne made sure of the points when Jamie Reed scored the third late in the match.
Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes to allow fans to file into the ground, but it didn’t deter South as it went straight on the front foot.
After coming close on a couple of occasions, South took the lead after Heidelberg failed to clear its lines, and Michael Eager’s blocked shot sat up perfectly for Theodore to hit a volley.
The ball brushed the fingertips of Griffin McMaster on its way into the top corner.
South was playing well on the counter and forced a mistake from Heidelberg for its second soon after.
This time the ball spilled to Milos Lujic, who chipped the onrushing keeper for his own debut goal after crossing over from Northcote City in the off-season.
The home side came out after the break with more intent, but was unable to create a clear-cut chance, with shots from Daniel Vasilevski and Paul Miller going straight into Jason Saldaris’ gloves.
With just a couple of minutes left on the clock, South Melbourne clinched the result when Jamie Reed rose high above the Heidelberg defence to head in yet another debut goal on the night.
South Melbourne coach Chris Taylor was happy with the result, which was the best possible way for his side to start its NPL campaign.
“Being a derby game it was hard to know what we were up against but I thought we started well the first 10-15 minutes, we created chances,” Taylor said.
“When the first goal went in, it came at the right sort of time and (we) probably could have been a few more goals up by halftime.
“They made us work hard for it as well in a derby sort of atmosphere. All in all it’s just pleasing to get off to a good start.”
Heidelberg United coach George Katsakis was disappointed to lose the match, but wasn’t too disheartened by the defeat.
“I think it took us a while to get into the momentum of the game and into the rhythm but I think the second goal, conceding so softly put a bit of a barrier between us,” Katsakis said.
“We came in the second half and reshuffled it a little bit and to be quite honest I thought we were the better side without creating too many opportunities but then again neither did they.”
Football Federation Victoria CEO Mitchell Murphy praised the big turnout, and is looking to build on the great start to the NPL.
"We have begun an exciting new chapter in Victorian football," Mr Murphy said.
"Tonight's great crowd truly reflects the deep passion of volunteers and supporters in the club structures.
"Our code is getting stronger and stronger (and) FFV feels a deep sense of obligation to deliver the best NPL in Australia. We will continue to build on a fantastic start to the 2014 season."
Both teams will have a week next off because of the Dockerty Cup, before Heidelberg travels to Oakleigh Cannons and South Melbourne visits Port Melbourne in Round 2.
Heidelberg United 0 defeated by South Melbourne 3 (Theodore 12’, Lujic 21’, Reed 87’) at Olympic Village (HT: 0-2)
Heidelberg United: 1. Griffin McMASTER [GK], 2. Peter KRATKY, 4. Jordan WILKES, 13. Luke BYLES (c), 3. Les DOUMBALIS, 17. Steven PACE (7. Stefan BARICEVIC 70’), 6. Paul MILLER, 10. Jack PETRIE (9. Kosta KANAKARIS 83’), 23. Andrew CARTANOS (11. Mark McGOUGH 58’), 5. Daniel VASILEVSKI, 14. Dan HEFFERNAN
Unused Subs: 20. Gianluca FANTACCI, 8. Zane SOLE
Yellow Cards: Petrie 41’, Wilkes 61’, Heffernan 90+2’
Red Cards: Nil
South Melbourne: 1. Jason SALDARIS [GK], 2. Tim MALA, 4. Michael EAGAR (c), 6. Dimitri TSIARAS, 7. Nick EPIFANO, 8. Mathew THEODORE (5. Leigh MINOPOULOUS 75’) 9. Milos LUJIC,10. Tyson HOLMES, 11. Brad NORTON, 12. Iqbal JAWADI, 17. Jamie REED (20. Slaven VRANESEVIC 90’)
Unused Subs: 3. Andrew MULLETT, 15. Kobbie BOAHENE, 21. Chris MAYNARD
Yellow Cards: Theodore 11’, Jawadi 35’
Red Cards: Nil
Pictured: Mathew Theodore is flanked by teammates after scoring the first ever NPL goal (image credit: Cindy Nitsos)