Since I didn't expect to win this game anyway, I can't say I'm particularly disappointed with the result. Sure I'm annoyed with how the result came about, but it was only an exaggerated variant of so many of our losses - and even some of our wins - that there were few surprises for anyone who's watched this team this season. And the key moments of utterly shambolic defending aside, it wasn't even close to our worst performance of the year. We scored goals, created chances, and fought the game out to the end, things which you can't necessarily say about our actual worst performances this year.
But you can't go coughing up certainly three - and probably all four - goals of that nature, when you're already in the habit of conceding at least one utterly avoidable goal every game. Our forwards have at least sorted out their end of the bargain to be scoring at least one and usually two goals a game to cover those defensive frailties - and the fact that we are inexplicably the form team of the league over the past five weeks backs up that assertion - but there's only so much they can be expected to cover at the other end.
|Why not celebrate with us, Kristian Konstaninidis?|
Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
It's like I've said all year. If the opposition is scoring bombs from 20 or 30 yards out, you get upset but you also grin and bear it (unless it's a player like Andreas Govas who should never be allowed to line a up shot from any sort of range). But we give up these awful, gift-wrapped goals week after week, and while I know that it's also an NPL speciality across the board, but we're just terrible at it.
After managing to get back into the game via a Kristian Konstantinidis header - and for all his other cock-ups this season, there's probably no other player in this league that's as hard to mark from set pieces as KK - we copped a goal straight away. This happened not necessarily because Knights created an irresistible bit of football - though good on Hamish Watson for getting unmarked in the six yard box so easily - but because we were distracted by KK's antics celebrating in front of MCF of all people. South fans hate it when opposition players celebrate in front of us, but we're not too fond of our own players doing the same to opposition sides. It's admittedly a rare occurrence from our end, but it was such a stupid, hubristic thing to do by KK, especially when he couldn't easily celebrated with the fans behind the goal at which he'd scored.
|Billy Konstantinidis appeared to injure his shoulder after scoring his goal.|
Photo: Cindy Nitsos.
Sadly, any realistic chance to win the game was lost by the third goal we conceded. This was a goal that was so comically bad, if I was a European or Asian gambler watching the game I'd be be thumping the keyboard in disgust. Now on closer inspection there was a push against Marshall, but at time the confusion between Marshall and Roganovic looked so bad that I gave up all hope then and there.
When Billy Konstantinidis pulled it back to 3-2, some people decided to get all excited. The fools! Knights got it out to 4-2 right away, and that was that. Nick Krousoratis hit the post, and the team kept trying, but what a waste of time and energy it all was. We lost, mostly fair and square, and more or less by our own hand and hubris. Even with a lot of the changes to the first team in order to deal with the three day break and the cup-tied players, it was going to be an uphill battle. Part of that was going to be the fact that we couldn't use the cup-tied players who may have been useful, but that's the nature of recruiting in this league now, that unless you go searching in New Zealand or the abandoned A-League player pile for mid-season transfers, just about any player you sign is going to be cup-tied.
We can't even really blame the narrowed dimensions of the field. It's Knights' ground, and they're entitled to do what they want with it, and it was known weeks in advance that this was going to be the case. I'm reminded of an episode of King of the Hill (a show I have rarely ever watched) where Hank takes the role of grounds-keeper for the high school's football field, and adjusts the condition of the field, like leaving the grass long in the wide areas to combat the opposition's gun wide receivers. Everyone knows that South's offensive strength this year lies in its wingers, so why not use every means at your disposal to negate that? Meanwhile, though the injury to defensive midfielder Kosta Stratomitros early in the game didn't help, at our worst we kept banging the ball long to Billy Konstantinidis, who was out-gunned all night in the air. Thus the game at times resembled our recent loss to Dandenong City, where the opposition won the game because they got to direct affairs on their terms.
And where we sought to muck around with the ball in half dangerous areas in the back half, the Knights defence played a very disciplined style, getting any half dangerous ball out of play, adapting the old rugby union adage, "if in doubt, kick it out". That non-reluctance to give us back possession could've backfired of course, but since we decided to put in our worst defensive performance of the year, their overly cautious approach looked like genius by comparison to whatever it was that we were doing.
Now in this game at least we weren't completely outplayed in the way we were against Dandy City, but giving up the goals that we did, and failing to adequately adjust to narrow ground and Knights' defensive set-up, meant that we had to work extra hard to create chances and score from them, while Knights only had to wait until our next screw-up or lapse in concentration.
It'll sound like a commentator's cliché, but the least you could hope for after this loss is that we learn something from it.
How about that atmosphere?
As tends to happen after a South visit to Knights Stadium, there were allegations of racist chants from the home side directed toward either our fans or players. This time it was "you dirty Turkish bastard" chants directed at Kristian Konstantinidis.
Some South fans (rightly) attempted to bring this to the attention of the world and/or Football Victoria powerbrokers like FV CEO Peter Filopoulos, while knowing full well that almost certainly nothing would be done.
This is all the more hilarious (for want of a better word) because Filopoulos took aim at South fans for their alleged cruelty toward Heidelberg player Harry Noon when he got injured last year, and also took aim (rightly) at anonymous homophobic bigots on Twitter who were targeting the Matildas.
I feel sorry for Filopoulos on one point. As a former Hellas man, if he was to initiate action against the Knights, he'd be on a hiding to nothing in terms of "bias". Still, the more pertinent issue is that everyone just seems to accept that this is how some Knights fans behave, and there's nothing that anyone with any authority on the matter can do about it, if they even want to.
Things got a bit weirder online after this when a couple of people pointed out the hypocrisy (or irony?) of some Knights fans being at the forefront of trying to take down the National Club Identity Policy, while some Knights fans continue to sing racist chants. One might even think that some of these people could be doing both.
Anyway, there's no hypocrisy here as far as I'm concerned, because they are mutually exclusive behaviours. And maybe for some Knights fans, chanting racist garbage is part of the cultural heritage they wish to maintain or propagate?
Of course all that got lost in an argument about which club was best at not partaking in the other's post-match hospitality, so we'll see you back next year* for our next visit to Knights Stadium and the ongoing fan shenanigans which nothing will ever get done about.
Happily for all concerned, that will all get overshadowed by the vile antics of some Dandy Thunder/North Sunshine fans at Paisley Park tonight.
*Assuming we don't relegated.
Avondale at home on Sunday, that is, tomorrow. The curtain raiser for this match will be the senior women taking on Bayside.
On the couch
Tonight on Wings... ah, who cares?
Watched Hume vs Oakleigh on Tuesday night. Doesn't matter now.
At least now we can focus all our energies on avoiding relegation, and then settling into our natural position for 2019 - either 7th or 8th.