The opening goal though came early enough so as to settle the nerves somewhat. Iqi Jawadi, who has apparently caught the eye of A-League scouts - he played in the second half for Melbourne Heart in their midweek friendly against Hume, and is also rumoured to be on the Newcastle Jets radar - eluded two Northcote players on the sideline, and found Tyson Holmes in space whose cross ended up reaching Milos Lujic perefectly at the back post.
Northcote though would not go down lightly, and at first worked their back into the game, and then became the dominant side as South sat back. The problem with this approach is that I'm not sure that this South side is as comfortable shutting down games once they have the lead as when they decide instead to drive home their advantage. The results may show otherwise, but it's always a difficult decision to make. A good thing then that generally we defended well, though our retreat into relying onto longballs (the last refuge of the scoundrel?) was incredibly frustrating to watch.
Marinos Gasparis' freekick was in a way both inevitable - in that Northcote had being getting closer and had had the general run of play - and telling, in the sense that if South has lacked one thing this year it's been a set piece specialist, someone who could be relied not only to score 3-4 goals a year at crucial points in a match or season (say, when there appears to be no other way to break down a disciplined defence, or you need that sealer to put a stake in the opposition's heart), or even just to force a corner or desperate save.
And while Jamie Reed hasn't been completely awful in that department, neither has he reached the heights of the 2006 vintage Fernando De Moraes, who when all else failed, managed to find a way through via a freekick (I'm thinking the opening goal late in the elimination final against Gully especially). Thank goodness then that we have Milos Lujic, who has become the first South player in probably 29 years - I'm thinking Charlie Egan in 1985 was probably the last player to get there - to score 20 goals for South in a single season.
That he got the ball from a player I've been critical of recently in Matthew Theodore says volumes about our depth, and the ability of Taylor to pick the right player for the right situation, which is why he's potentially the championship winning coach and I'm just some chump on with a keyboard. Still, once we had that lead we had to keep Northcote out for the remainder of the game, and full credit to them they didn't give up. On that note, special mention must go to Chris Maynard in goal, who pulled out some fine saves, and whose kicking was generally excellent. Maynard had not been tested almost at all in the previous two games since replacing the out of favour Jason Saldaris, but he was usually on top of whatever came at him yesterday.
If this post - and probably even the last match report for that matter - comes across as a little weary, it's perhaps because it's been an exhausting season; a longer home and away season than we've been recently accustomed to, a Dockerty Cup campaign in the middle of that, the Lakeside situation, and hell, even attending pre-season games from back in December. The saving grace is that we're this close to securing the title. It must have been hell for the supporters of those teams who weren't going to get relegated or win the title. That's their cross to bear though - meanwhile we've got a title to win, which we're in the box seat to take out.
A week off for the Dockerty Cup final and assorted catch up games, before we take on Oakleigh at home. We may have already won the title by then if Oakleigh lose to the Knights in their catch up game in 10 days time, but let's cross that bridge when we come to it.
Doing the sums
Well, here's how it stands. South is on 62 points, with two games left. Oakleigh's on 55 points, with three games left. So, in other words:
- A win for South in either of our two remaining games, and we take the title.
- A loss for Oakleigh in any of its three remaining games, and we take the title.
- A draw between ourselves and Oakleigh in round 25, and we take the title.
And yes, I'll probably be at the Knights - Oakleigh game, just in case we end up winning the title at that game.
@IanSyson @smfc @NorthcoteCity yes Ian. Checking out @smfc our likely NPL elimination opponentsAround the grounds
— South Hobart FC (@SouthHobartFC) August 24, 2014
Urge to kill, rising
I was just one member of a healthy contingent of South fans who turned up to watch Bentleigh host Oakleigh, hoping first for an Oakleigh loss and secondly for a good game of football. Well, on the latter front there was excitement of a sort, but sadly on the former matter Oakleigh took advantage of relentlessly shithouse defending from the Greens to be up 4-0 during the first half. At least three of the goals looked majorly dodgy, as the Greens gave their opponents far too much space (seriously, who stands 3-4 metres off Nate Foster and dares him to run past you?) and insisted on playing the ball out of the back for no discernible gain. The fourth goal was perhaps the most absurd, as a botched and harmless short corner (and pretty much all short corners at this level fall into that category) was somehow parried by Alastair Bray back into the path of the Oakleigh attackers who eventually finished it off. To make matters worse, the Greens squandered several good chances in the first part of the second half, but whether they were a real chance of a comeback is unlikely. My blistering public transport run to the ground aside - one hour, fifteen minutes from Newport station - this was game was a letdown on several fronts.
Eight dollars for a Clifton Hill souvlaki is highway robbery
Headed out to Quarries Park on Saturday to see Clifton Hill play Southern Stars. Clifton Hill were third last, but in no danger of relegation. Southern Stars, starting from scratch after last year's betting scandal, started the year on -8 points, and were still in minus territory coming into this game. Nevertheless, they did win their first game of the season last week against South Springvale, so maybe there'd be evidence of further improvement here? Sadly, no. Clifton Hill took a little while to break the deadlock, but once they did this game was as good as done. Only poor finishing theoretically kept Stars in it, but they eventually fell 3-0 behind and even a late own goal to get it back to 3-1 never saw the home team threatened. Stars aren't the first team to have to rebuild after exiting the Victorian topflight, but there's seems an altogether more difficult task. Realistically though, Clifton Hill aren't in a much better position. The Hillmen increasingly appear to be a subsidiary of Heidelberg United Alexander (the 'HUFC' sponsorship on the back of the shirt seems very awkward), which may not be a very palatable thing to have said about a club which would like to assert that it is still an independent entity, but it's not like there were that many home fans there anyway to argue the point.
This blog will be very low key over the next week and a half or so. While we'll still have the Wednesday artefact segment, unless something super drastic happens, don't expect any significant posting from our angle. Enjoy the week off, and I'll see you all on the other side.
As Gains I exited via the back gate in between our stand and the 1926 stand, a little kid saw us and said to his dad, 'they're so shifty'. Further reinforcement of my dislike for children.