Got to Kingston Heath early enough to catch the 20s game, a solid come from behind win. Orford, Mesourouni, Djiba, and Aguek all played in that game, with Aguek putting away a nice volley.
I don't think any of us are expecting miracles this season. We expect the side to be a mid-to-lower ranked team. We want them to do better, but we're right in the middle of a rebuild that's partly been done out of necessity, and partly self-inflicted. If we can avoid a relegation scrap, that would be great, but we have to be realistic. There's a lot of new players, a lot of young players, and we're in a league where the spending is out of control.
Going to Bentleigh in round 1 was probably the worst thing that could happen to us - unless we could've somehow pinched a point or three - but it was unlikely that we had any luck left over from last year's heroics. So, I guess most of us were expecting to lose, but I think most of us are pleased with how the team performed in general.
Going forward we looked pretty good - a little too dependent on counter-attacks perhaps, but that's probably where our strength is going to be - the key there being not to fall behind too often, because then conservative opponents - of which Bentleigh is not one - will have the luxury of sitting back.
Keeping Gerrie Sylaidos at attacking mid instead of shifting him to the wing seems the thing to do. Yes, he's probably more likely to get beat up and bruised in the middle, but so much is going to depend on his talent this season. Keep him in the middle and keep opposition defences guessing whether he's going to go left, right, or through the middle. And hopefully our forwards get on to the same page as him.
Nick Krousouratis looks like a great get - here's hoping for consistency on his part. Pep Marafioti looks OK to me, but I'm more sympathetic to him than others might be. George Howard did OK as a makeshift centre forward, but we lacked height and strength in that centre-forward role, and unless Pep gets shifted there, we're going to need Billy Konstantinidis sooner rather than later.
Gio Marafioti didn't have a great game coming off the bench; he looked a little lost, and ran around like a little dog chasing hard, but not smart. He's a better player than that, and hopefully we get a chance to see that. It was disappointing not to see Leigh Minopoulos out there on Friday, but apparently he got a broken nose in Adelaide. Marcus Schroen needs to get his fitness up quickly.
Defensively, I was at the other end of the ground so I can't say with much authority what went wrong or right at that end of the ground, but the second goal we conceded had three players who went to ground. Granted, one of them was the keeper, but even there Roganovic more or less took an air swing with his sliding/diving challenge.
3-1 was probably a fair scoreline. I don't think we did enough right at either end to warrant the win, but a draw would not have an unjust result. But we didn't make the most of our opportunities when we had the ascendancy in the first, and we look likely to cop soft goals this year, if pre-season form is anything to go by.
Seeing as how this game seemed to conform to our pre-season form, and the expectations people had around what the squad's strengths and weaknesses were likely to be, there's one question that remains for me at least. That is, if that it what our mean/median/mode/average performance is going to look like, what are we going to produce for the rest of the season?
One real game is a small sample size from which to extrapolate, but apart from a very few Negative Nancies, I think we all know where this team sits: hopefully just good enough to avoid relegation, and if we somehow made the finals, that would be a huge bonus. We were told that the team would be competitive; again, it's too early to draw much meaning from a single game, but we were competitive on Friday night against a likely title contender.
I don't normally do call to arms nonsense, but I hope that our supporters in general don't get on the backs of the coach or players too quickly. They need our support, and I think if we can get through what will probably a difficult season, then the benefits will repay themselves in the coming seasons.
Of course this team could surprise us all and do extra-well - here's hoping for that.
So what do we need to achieve to survive? (nobody panic)
Let's assume for argument's sake that we're a relegation battler. If that's the case, we need to get at least a certain amount of points to keep us safe. Last season we survived thanks to eking out 28 points and somehow getting a decent goal difference (thanks Dandy Thunder). Now in your typical 26 game season, 28 points is usually enough to get you through, but it almost wasn't enough last season.
30 points however, notwithstanding some catastrophic turn of events, should be enough to get you over the relegation line. Our old mate Psile agrees on this, so the question then becomes, where are we going to get those 30 points? We're probably not going to get ten wins, zero draws, and sixteen losses; so that leaves us either aiming for eight wins and six draws, or seven wins and nine draws.
I'm not going to cast reckless aspersions on the teams I think we should beat - I'll leave that to the comments section - but the sooner we get to 30 points, the better. Judging by the performance on Friday night, I think we can do it, but you'd like to get at least a decent chunk out of the way while we're on the road these first few weeks.
Dandenong City at home, on Friday night. Dandy City got crunched 4-1 and copped a red card at home against Avondale, and considering that no one is really expecting anything from us this season, it's possible to already see this as a relegation six pointer.
Obviously that's a tad melodramatic, because there'd still be 24 games after this one even if we lose it - or even if we win it - but it does kinda feel like a pretty damn massive game. Billy Konstantinidis, the Australian striker signed from Greece, arrived in Melbourne last week, but who knows how quickly he'll be added to the starting eleven.
Apart from collecting your membership and/or membership pack, Friday is a good chance for those who out of habit boycott away games or who have decided to boycott away games this year, to see the South men's senior team for the only time in the first month and a bit of the season. It'll also be interesting to see how the social club and food services handle a crowd.
2019 squad announced
The other week the club announced its official senior men's squad for 2019. It's pretty damn young.
NPLW or WNPL... one of those two
The senior women start their league campaign this Saturday afternoon, away at Southern United at Monterey Reserve.
One blog... two blogs.. but he... but you can't... oh, my medication!
A new blog has been started by Luke Radziminski, one of the club's media interns. I didn't realise that people were still starting blogs. I mean, I was late on to the blog fad when I started this thing so many years ago. Fans of South of the Border should rest assured that as I have crushed all previously competing South Melbourne Hellas blogs - OK, just the one, which was done by Cliff before I got him to here - I will also crush this one.
But more seriously, if there's genuine longevity in this project, it could be really good. In Luke's own words:
This is a long-term project proposed by a media intern from the club to create a database and archive photos for South Melbourne. The aim is to create a library of photos at every possible game for fans to look back on over the years. I try to capture the environment of the venue and any engagement with the fans and what story has unfolded. There will be photos borrowed and provided from other media personnel who have photographed at the event as well.I might actually have to have a chat with this bloke.
Contribute to South of the Border
I'm always on the lookout for new contributors, so if you want to do something on a regular or irregular basis, do get in touch, even if it;s just to send me a bit of history for an artefact segment.
Just a reminder also that South of the Border is always on the lookout for South Melbourne related match programs. If you've got something that will help fill in one of the gaps here. Hit me up via email or see me at a game.
Coming into Sunshine station after a two hour Friday night public transport hike from Cheltenham, a bloke who'd been at the Oakleigh game started chatting with me - because of my South beanie, I assume - and among his observations was that Nick Epifano looked weak. True story.