It was a farcical evening of football last night at The Grange. For the second time this pre-season South has come up short against state league one outfit Western Suburbs, this time bowing out in a penalty shootout, after both regular and extra time yielded no goals.
After all five penalties were scored by both teams in the shoot out, Suburbs went ahead 6-5 in sudden death - and they won the tie when Steve O'Dor hit his penalty too close to the Suburbs keeper who easily kept the ball out. This will be the first time since 2008 that South has not made the tournament final.
The game was open, with chances ate both ends, though the shooting of both sides left a lot to be desired - in South's case this was worsened by the apparent fear of shooting from anything other the six yard box.
Suburbs played a counter attacking game, clogging up the middle of the field, pushing South wide, and attacking on the counter. Their speedy players were able to race up the field and place the defense under serious pressure - especially considering the apparent disconnect between O'Dor and Gavalas.
After being nursed through the pre-season, Trent Rixon came on late, though Gus Tsolakis appears to be a coach who is wary of using his bench. Crosses that were in the right spot were not met by players being in the right spot. Players that were in the right spot saw crosses fly over them.
It's hardly end of the world stuff though - and it goes to show how the alignment of the state league and VPL pre-seasons have enabled a more closely fought tournament - however this has been overshadowed by even more ludicrous actions from the organising committee.
The original kickoff time for the game was 6:30PM. Of course most, if not all of our players are semi-professionals, who work day jobs. Some even work as late as 6:00 PM. The time would have been even worse for the Western Suburbs, whose players would have likely had to have journeyed an even longer distance than most of our players.
I can't even recall what time the game eventually started. To my surprise, the game also went the full 90 minutes, instead of the hitherto usual 70 - if my recollection is accurate, in previous tournaments 90 minute matches were reserved for the final.
The most ridiculous portion of the evening though, was when news filtered in from the other semi-final, being played by Heidelberg and Northcote. Remarkably, it was being played at Ralph Reserve, whose surface, by all accounts, has been ripped to shreds, and had whole days of action cancelled on it, and matches relocated.
That match, too, failed to yield a winner, but rather than going into extra time, the match went straight into penalties. The lack of suitable lighting was given as the reason for this occurrence. One wonders of they were finishing their match in the dark, and why we had to play extra time.
As it is, our involvement in this tournament is now over, except for the wearisome 3rd/4th place playoff. If last year's match between Oakleigh and Bentleigh is any guide - the single worst game I have ever seen - there will be no point in attending this match. I would feel confident in predicting a largely under 21s squad will take the field on behalf of the club.
Tournament highlights next week.
Need More Greeks!
Boy, hasn't this angle being worked to death lately. Two more officially on board - goalkeeper Peter Gavalas signed over from Bentleigh Greens - confirmed as both a Greek speaker and of the Orthodox faith; and Dimi Hatzimouratis, a pacy forward type who has been at a few clubs around Melbourne but has also spent some time in the Cypriot leagues. Gavalas' signing means the exit of Zaim Zeneli, most likely to Dandenong Thunder. Probably part of their 'need more Albanians' push. Hatzimouratis' signing means that Nicky Jacobs and Gianni De Nittis will probably be fighting over a bench position - unless Jacobs can somehow win a spot out wide.
South sides with the FFA
In the latest and perhaps most pointless chapter of the Clive Palmer - FFA feud, FourFourTwo is reporting that we're not saying that much at all about the matter. Word on the street is to expect more hot air blather in the coming months from us or about us in FourFourTwo
South at the Beach
Finally, in a revolutionary move, this year's version of South in the suburbs/aka membership fun day is actually taking place somewhere within rock throwing distance of South Melbourne! Well, more so rock throwing distance with a mortar launcher, but still better than requiring an intercontinental ballistic missile to deliver your payload.
It's on next Sunday, March 17th, from 11am to 1pm, at (new sponsor) Beachcomber Cafe, 10-18 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda. I think I'll give this one a miss. They seem like nice people over there, and the beach soccer volleyball to be played by South people sounds interesting (even it's no sepak takraw), but I think I should spend some time at home. Or maybe even at a Statewide Knockout Cup match.