Paul asked me to help him write the match report for the cup match before the game, so here I am again. My previous match report ended up with Peter Tsolakis resigning as head coach so I hope nothing of the same sort happens again.
Personally I don't like how it is called the FFA Cup qualifier where it is primarily about the Dockerty Cup and the four FFA Cup spots happen to be the easiest way to find four entrants from Victoria but maybe that's just me.
Pre-match and Background
On the way to the ground there are at least fifty North Sunshine fans singing and chanting to support the team and with the addition of those already inside, there were at least a hundred of them coming to support their team against South. They were here courtesy of an epic penalty shootout victory over Sunshine George Cross, after drawing 4-4 in normal time and 6-6 in extra time with two men down after red cards. South won 5-0 against Whittlesea United in the previous round.
Perhaps knowing their previous round win and people talking about North Sunshine as being a team that fears no opposition, Chris Taylor selected a strong starting eleven after the weekend derby against Melbourne Knights. Nick Epifano and Jake Barker-Daish replaced Dane Milovanovic and Matthew Theodore from the team that beat the Knights, while Tim Mala served the second part of his two match ban from the red card against Green Gully.
|Andy Brennan on the ball, with what looks like a hundred tissues stuffed up|
his nose, after copping a ball to the face. Photo: Cindy Nitsos
An early goal from Milos Lujic assisted by the in-form Andy Brennan, who dispossessed a North Sunshine player, helped the team's confidence considering it had taken around half an hour for the first goal to arrive against Whittlesea. Ten minutes later, Brad Norton's great cross found Brennan rushing from the right, which made it two. There was controversy when Lujic got heavily fouled just outside the box and the loose ball went to Brennan who put it into the net, only for the referee to pull the game back for the initial foul much to the protestations of South fans. David Stirton scored from the free kick, most likely South's first since Fernando's against Preston Lions in the 2013 Dockerty Cup quarter final. Lujic got substituted for Leigh Minopoulos immediately after the goal. Another Stirton goal, this time from an Epifano cross, put the game beyond North Sunshine's reach and just a minute later when Epifano was brought down close to the six yard box, a penalty scored by Epifano himself and a red card for the defender basically ended the game as a contest. Taylor made his second substitution at this point, replacing Brennan who got hit in the head with the ball and ran around with gauze around his mouth for a while with Andy Kecojevic. The first half ended 5-0 and with one man advantage, progression to the next round is almost certain.
It seemed during the second half, North Sunshine's goalkeeper (who drew a few “sign him up” chants after some of his saves) got substituted.
|Iqi Jawadi evades his North Sunshine opponent. Photo: Cindy Nitsos|
The intensity of the game dropped in second half; consequently, North Sunshine got a lot more of the ball compared and had some moments where they broke through South's back line and tested Nikola Roganovic in goals. It took until the hour mark for South to increase the lead with Minopoulos scoring. Five minutes later Stirton grabbed his hattrick to made it seven. Around this time other match results were announced through the PA (though having some sound issues where it sounded like a Nespresso machine operating after they finished the broadcast) with Ballarat Red Devils getting a cheer and impromptu chant after news of their lead (and eventual victory) over Bentleigh Greens piped in. Jake Barker-Daish ended the match with a goal of his own, a right footed shot from outside the box beyond the goalkeeper's reach. Eight-nil it ended, more players getting a run in the team and gaining match fitness; the next round awaits.
|Nick Epifano gets brought down in the box. Photo: Cindy Nitsos.|
After being dropped from the starting eleven against the Knights, Epifano looks more active in the second half, dropped back and tried to win the ball from his opposition more. On the pitch, his extra effort showed itself in the form of a first half assist and goal, not to mention his shots and dangerous crosses. The intensity dropped in the second half but so did that of the others considering the scoreline, but he still provided a few crosses which almost resulted in goals.
Post-match though, Epifano walked straight to the tunnel and despite captain Michael Eagar's attempt to have him celebrate together with the fans, Epifano pushed him away and walked down the tunnel, which the fans noticed. Post player/fan celebration, Roganovic went over to the fans and tried to give an explanation. He asked the fans to give Epifano some time, said that he is probably having his issues at home, he is still very young at nineteen, and all the other players are trying to support Epifano who they consider an important part of the team. Most of the fans there accepted Roganovic's explanation, but more importantly gained more respect for the goalkeeper as he did not need to go out of his way to clear the air.
Learned a New Greek Word Today
Hume City away. Five previous away results against them were W L W L W. Depending whether you believe in statistics and/or superstitions this might be the match you want to skip or go to and see the team break the pattern. As Tim Mala has finished serving his ban and might potentially return to the team, you might also want to spend a minute or more of your weekend in Broady with him.