The ground was its usual crappy self. That's not to blame the Oakleigh people for anything, it's just been a fact of life for years now, and you almost feel sorry for the home team's players and coaches who have to play a style of football that's not as easy on the eye as they would like it to be,
For those unaware of the typical state of Jack Edwards Reserve, one word sums it up: sand. You knew it was bad when Gavalas, when taking an early goal kick, kicked up a massive slab of sand like he'd just come out of a bunker from nearby Huntingdale.
This game was also messed up by a strong wind going towards the railway end, to which Oakleigh were going towards in the first half. Still, as is usually the case when these two sides play, the contest was very entertaining, and provided enough heart attack moments to keep everyone on edge for most of the game.
Goran Zoric provided one of those moments early on, when he had a one on one opportunity to open the scoring. In typical Zoric fashion though, he hit it straight at Gavalas who made the first of several good saves.
Pressure up the pitch lead directly to Trent Rixon opening up the scoring. A poor Oakleigh backpass - and any backpass is a risky enterprise on a ground in such poor condition - was intercepted by Rixon, who slotted the ball home to continue his late season revival and take up his season's tally to five goals.
Nick Epifano almost made it 2-0 - nay, should have made it 2-0 - when another errant pass in Oakleigh's defensive area saw him with the opportunity to score, but his shot went wide.
South lucked out at the other end though, when an Oakleigh shot across goal, which looked like it was going out, took a leg break off the pitch and ended up hitting the base of the post and going out.
Despite South having the wind advantage in the second half, it was Oakleigh who dominated proceedings going into the wind. They had several good chances to score, but could not make them count - some desperate defending and great goalkeeping from South keeping them at bay.
Not that South was without chances - Rixon should have done better on several occasions - but a soft penalty to Luke Hopper, which he converted himself gave us a little bit of breathing room. It was most un-VPL penalty if you like, or at least, according to my memory, it was the of penalty we never get called in our favour.
Brad Norton wasn't at his best yesterday - I felt he was playing far too narrowly on an already narrow pitch and so far away from the Oakleigh right winger - but he did manage to put in a great cross to Rixon, who should have done much better with the header to make it 3-0 and ice the game.
Nicky Soolsma needs to learn to use his left foot. If continues to favour his right foot so much, he'll become predictable, and less effective. It was fair to say that after several good games, his second half in this match was less than stellar.
Oakleigh, with their already faint finals aspirations on the line, deservedly got a goal back from a goalmouth scramble following a failure to deal with a corner. No clean sheet again! Chris Taylor won't be pleased with that, and I wouldn't blame him. Conceding goals from set pieces has been a persistent problem, and one that needs to be sorted out soon. As an aside, even by Oakleigh standards there was little celebration of their goal.
Oakleigh's goalkeeper Lewis Italiano managed to cripple himself on the shoddy turf, but we couldn't take full advantage of that. The last ten minutes of this match from us was better, even as it went into a five minute spell of injury time. There was more no nonsense play, and getting and keeping the ball at the end of the ground that we needed to, grinding out the result in the manner that we should have when we went 2-0 up.
|Up and over! Trent Rixon evades an opponent. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.|
On the plus side, Iqi Jawadi had a good game, as did Brian Bran at the back. Most pleasingly, Trent Rixon is not only looking like he's re-found his form, but he also looks like he's enjoying being out there, which is great to see. He could have had a hat-trick today, but at least he's still scoring- and the partnership with Hopper up front looks promising. Peter Gavalas was man of the match though, without a doubt, making several clutch saves.
What this all means is that we're now in fifth place, with four games to play.That means nine points behind faltering ladder leader Northcote, and while you'd like to think we could overhaul them, we've left our run for that far too late. It means we're six points behind second place Melbourne Knights, three points behind third place Bentleigh and two points behind fourth place Port Melbourne. The beauty (and the terror) of that situation is that we play three of those teams - Northcote, Knights and Port - in the last three rounds.
But we also have to keep ahead of the teams behind us. Hume, who look like they're falling apart somewhat, are still level on points with us, albeit with a decimated goal difference. Gully are only a point further back, with a game in hand against an Oakleigh side who might not have much incentive by the time the catch up game comes around. And four points behind us are Dandenong Thunder, still in with a shot courtesy of their game in hand, though they would be closer if they didn't have that three point deduction.
South Melbourne's under 21s were away to Oakleigh Cannons on Sunday afternoon, looking to avoid a fourth loss in a row and entering the bottom four. South kicked off and it was a very scrappy start to the game on a poor pitch - the first 15 minutes were very even, and it took until the 19th minute for the first clear cut chance of the game, when Oakleigh Cannons caught the goal keeper out of position and fired home to give them a 1-0 lead. The rest of the first half was fought out in the midfield and both teams struggled to make any more real chances at goal. 1-0 Oakleigh lead at the half time break.
Oakleigh kicked off the second half and only 10 minutes into the second half Baggio Yousif found his way through the defence and he fired home to level the scores. Only three minutes later Baggio found himself in another goal scoring position and he converted with ease to give South a 2-1 lead 60 minutes in. Oakleigh dominated the rest of the half and 15 minutes from time Oakleigh equalised and 2-2 it finished, another disappointing result for South. Pascoe Vale at home next week, let's see if they can improve, until then, get around it
Steve From Broady's Canteen Report
I was at the Oakleigh Cannons canteen on Sunday afternoon. Not expecting much, I went and had a souv and I must say I was surprised the Valkanises now running the Oakleigh canteen, remembering that they used to run the old South canteen, and it was a trip down memory lane with stringy lamb, heaps of tzatziki and a crunchy roll. It was a piece of food that shit all over most of the shit food that had been dished up this year at canteens. There was also heaps of other great food at the canteen, such as calamari, saganaki etc. I didn't get to try it all, but I must say the Oaks' canteen is the best for variety. I give Oaks' canteen a 9.5 just falling short of Pascoe Vale's canteen.
- Pascoe Vale 10/10
- Oakleigh Cannons 9.5/10
- Hume City 8/10
- Bentleigh Greens 7/10
- Richmond 6.5/10
- Northcote City 3.5/10
- Southern Stars 2/10
- Green Gully 1/10
- Dandenong DQ
South food truck
- Week 1 - 4.5/10
- Week 2 - 7/10
- Week 3 - 8.5/10
- Week 4 - 5/10
- Week 5 - 5.5/10
- Week 6 - 9/10
- Week 7 - 6/10
- Week 8 - 7.5/10
- Week 9 - 8/10
Dockerty Cup semi-final against Gully on Wednesday, at Port Melbourne. Won't have many of the team that lined up against Oakleigh, as they're cup tied, so much of the side will be made up of the gang that's been here since the start of the season. A chance for Fernando and Meredith to shine? Here's hoping. Not super confident about this, but in a one off game, anything can happen, right?
|Burst of sunshine breaks through late at Moreland. Photo: Ian Syson|
Went out on Saturday to Campbell Reserve to watch Moreland City take another step towards the State League 2 North West championship. Preston, fighting for second place and a playoff spot, were their opponents. Preston had the better of the first half, except for the 15 minutes leading into halftime. Moreland opened the scoring during that period. Preston again the better team during the second half, but a dreadful defensive error gifted Moreland their second goal. It ended 2-0 to the home side.
Rather than the feeling that anything was accomplished or lost, there was a feeling of doubt among the crowd. Moreland still not quite there, eight points clear on top with five games to go. Preston on the back foot now, five points adrift of second place Keilor Park. Situation compounded by the uncertainty created by the impending implementation of the NPL in Victoria. A championship is still something to cherish, but what if a playoff spot doesn't actually exist, because everyone will just get sorted into a State League 1 North-West and State League 1 South-East?
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Well Thought Out Analogies Department
The Stamoulis run/owned Ta Nea newspaper made a jibe about our crowds, by taking an out of context and narrow crowd photo during our game against Hume City last week, and basically calling us irrelevant, and asking how we could possibly take on the FFV and NPL Victoria with such little support.
As part of their 'mirth' making, they claimed that even Leonidas (of the Battle of Thermopylae fame, natch) had more followers. Never mind that the 300 Spartans also picked up a few thousand soldiers from other Greek city-states to fight for a united cause, when so often these same city-states were more interested in warring against each other.
Having said all that, the comparison to Thermopylae is of course an interesting one, in that while the outnumbered defenders failed in their initial objective, the greater battle was won soon afterwards, making possible the Golden Age of Classical Greece! So thanks, Ta Nea, for offering a timely dose of inspiration to the Anti-NPL Victoria forces, with your welcome analogy.
And I wonder who's playing the role of Ephialtes?
There was something thrilling about having four games on the same time, and enduring the nerve wracking game that we were at while also keeping an eye on the scores from around the grounds.