Sunday, 19 June 2011

A Stay of Execution? South Melbourne 1 Oakleigh Cannons 0

It was a strange day. And somewhere in the middle of it, a somewhat interesting, if a little rough around the edges football match took place.

It was too cold to sit outside and watch the under 21s, so I was sitting in ye olde Northcote clubrooms, and accidentally overheard a conversation conducted by several Oakleigh personnel. A warning to the kids out there - if you're looking to play in Cyprus, think twice - apparently a lot of promises are made over there which are never fulfilled, especially with regards to money.

Their numbers thinned by an exodus of its better players to supposedly greener pastures both here and in Hobart (Vandermey with a 93rd minute equaliser for Olympia against New Town Eagles today), the under 21s struggled to create anything worthwhile up front, and eventually conceded the decisive goals. Will they have enough gas in the tank to finish the season on a high? It will be interesting to see.

Joryeff down and out, while Krncevic models an ascot. Photo: Cindy Nitsos
The field at John Cain Memorial Reserve has deteriorated significantly. Grass is thin on the ground, and if it had rained yesterday it would have been in even worse condition. To be fair, it's done well to hold up as long as it has. The wind also played havoc with the match, but that's not a new thing at VPL level.
Oakleigh sprung the first surprise of the afternoon, by subbing off Frankie Lagana just minutes into the game. Didn't seem injured, so I'm not sure what that's all about. Kyle Joryeff received a serious head wound from a clash of bodies that I'm not sure was entirely legitimate from his Oakleigh opponent, but I'd have to check the replay to make sure. Joryeff should have hit the target early on after Steven Topalovic set him up well.

South were the better team for large swathes of the game, without being able to put the finishing touches on their moves. South also seemed to deal with the conditions better, tending to clear the ball well, resorted to more long balls than is their norm, and were feisty in the pursuit of the ball.

It eventually paid off when Carl Recchia latched onto a loose ball in the box to give us the lead. It was a great finish, and just reward for the pressure we'd been putting on Oakleigh's defence. Things could have been better had we made the most of other opportunities as well, but too often we chose the wrong option, leading to several correct offside calls being made, when had the ball been played to the opposite side, we would have been in a great position to score.

Still, some of the refereeing was a bit mystifying. The worst of the calls was late in the match, where South was called offside despite the offending player still being in his own side of the field. Had he moved back from an offside position? I don't think so. And certainly the Oakleigh players didn't think so either, because they were placing the ball for the free kick inside our half, with the ref insisting that it be taken back to their own side of the halfway line.

Steven O'Dor going beyond a captain's duty. Photo: Cindy Nitsos

I liked Stephen Weir today. A bit on the small side, but he harassed and harried his opponents, and looks a tough nugget to shake off the ball as well. Trent Waterson is gradually winning me over all over again, but this time not with showy antics, but with hard work and pinch-hitting in whatever role he's been asked to play in. Goodness me, we're a different side when Carl Recchia's in midfield. Was also good to see Fernando come on as a sub, albeit in a different numbered shirt than we are used to seeing. Not sure what that was all about. Along with Joryeff's injury, Defender Junior Camargo also hurt himself when attempting a full throttle assault on the ball in the box and falling badly. Will be interesting to see how long if at all either of those two spend on the sidelines.

In terms of the ex-player watch, if it's at all necessary, Peter Zois spent 90 minutes copping a barrage of abuse running the full gamut from the witty to the disgusting to the confusing. But at least this time he seemed to deal with it better than he did the last time these two teams met. He was also captain for the day, which caught the attention of some people, who compared it to the lack of captaincy being held by Ramazan Tavsancioglu, who was I felt, at best ineffective, and at worst, prone to giving the ball away cheaply on several occasions, but he wasn't a lone offender in that regard today.

Towards the end of the match, as the lengthy injury time set in, I saw Oakleigh powerbroker Aki Ionnas trundle past with his posse, but thought little of it. Then at the end of the game, when I went to meet Steve from Broady behind the goals, I find that there's this shouting match going on between Ionnas and Clarendon Corner. Why he decided to place himself in front of Clarendon Corner, I don't know. Nothing serious seemed to come out of it, thankfully.

Next up, the Knights, who are playing OK apparently without being able to put it on the board. Sound familiar? Should be a tough game, with a bit of spice added to it with the recent defection of several Knights players across during the mid-season transfer window. That, and they don't seem to like Eddie Krncevic much. Then again, win, lose or draw, no one seems to like Eddie much.

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