Faced with a two goal deficit from the first leg, South went out with an unchanged starting lineup, and began the game brightly, gaining the upper hand in the territorial battle at least and winning free kicks in dangerous areas and the occasional corner. It seemed that rather than Bangkok Glass sitting back it was Hellas that was on top in general play.
De Nittis had a great chance on 19 minutes, but failed to hit the target from the penalty spot. A penalty shout was turned down on 24 minutes after a tense moment for the Thai defense. On 26 minutes, poor communication between Stefaan Sardelic and his defense saw the Glass Rabbits open the scoring against the run of play, leaving South a mountain to climb.
Gianni De Nittis made up for his earlier miss by finishing some good lead up work by Daniel Vasilevski on 30 minutes to level the match at 1-1, and reduce the aggregate margin once more to two goals. It was a match marred by several poor tackles from the Thai side, which mostly went unpunished. De Nittis was fouled in the box on 36 minutes and Fernando De Moraes stepped up and slotted home the penalty to give South the lead, and reduce the margin to one goal on aggregate.
Bangkok Glass stepped up after that setback however, and leveled the match on 40 minutes after taking advantage of slack defending. A late corner for South saw Recchia clatter into the opposition keeper and receive a yellow card, and the two sides head into half time locked at 2-2 for the game and the Glass Rabbits 5-3 up on aggregate.
De Nittis couldn't make the most of a difficult chance early in the second half, and Bangkok Glass sought to hit back with chances of their own. Fifteen minutes into the second half, the Glass Rabbits failed to capitalise on a good move which saw them get numbers into the box. De Nittis, played through by Jesse Krncevic, hit the ball to the keeper on 64 minutes.
After several minutes of mostly subdued play, De Nittis gave South another glimmer of hope with 16 minutes to go by heading in a goal over the keeper, setting the scene for a tense finish. Soon after the latest go ahead goal, Krncevic failed to get a shot on goal after the pass from Rhodri Payne came a little behind the returning striker. Rhodri Payne made an incredible run forward but the ball was cleared off the line from De Nittis shot. The need to send players forward eventually cost South however, with Bangkok leveling the game again, and putting the game out of reach with their superior finishing - though their third goal did come off a deflection. The game then petered out towards its close, with only the antics of the Bankgok players giving the game any sort of genuine interest, though for the wrong reasons.
It was a sterling effort by South over the two legs despite the result, as the team sought to attack their more credentialed opponents, though the Blues had every right to sit back and attempt to play a cautious counter attacking style. The superior conditioning of the Thai side was telling in the first leg, as was their goalscoring, demonstrating the difference in class between the two sides - one wonders what could have been had Joe Keenan been available, he being the best finisher in the side. The gamesmanship of the Thais was brought into question into several times by the commentary crew, particularly the feigning of injuries - something frowned upon in Australia, where physicality in football is celebrated (for better and worse). One could spin it positively though, by interpreting it as a measure of the credit that our boys had earned from their opponents, that they resorted to those tactics.
Looking to next year, there are a number of questions that have been thrown up, such as why do we still persist with short corners? The question of whether Sardelic has done enough to cement himself in the number one keeper spot is up in the air - after so many years of struggling to find a reasonable first choice keeper, and believing we'd found that player in Peter Zois, his defection to Oakleigh leaves us with a tough choice to make. Do we go with the youngster, very much still untested and inexperienced, but who has certainly paid his dues in the reserves for several years? Or do we go for the safer option of forking out big money to someone with a more established reputation?
Krncevic seems to have already slotted in nicely, while Gianni De Nittis seemed to find a bit of form - but how many times have we said that about him in the past few years? Though he did seems to be working well with Krncevic. The midfield created enough chances and more than held their own over stretches of the two matches, but defensively we still seem susceptible, especially conceding goals despite the opposition having few chances. The fight for defensive spots will be hot next year, with the arrival of Lukmon Anifaloyin meaning that someone is going to miss out.
As to whether the club seeks to participate again next season, my guess would be that it's pretty doubtful - the ability to not only get a capable group of players on the plane away from their work commitments on more than one occasion during the year, but also to deal with the fact that the latter stages, should we make them fall into the VPL off-season, means that preparation is never ideal. Logistically, for a volunteer run organisation, it's also a massive task, though they seemed to handle it rather well for the most part.
A massive thank you to the team providing the radio stream, commentator John Kyrou, special comments man George Kouroumalis, and tech guy Michael Dimoudis. The first leg presentation was good; the second leg presentation was great. Thanks also to Paul Zarogiannis for the camerawork, whose efforts will be seen hopefully in the coming week. Great job boys, we'll see you back in Melbourne soon.