First up on Sunday were the South women's team against University of Melbourne. I'm not sure why this game was scheduled for a 1:00 kickoff instead of 2:00. Those few who showed up for the curtain raiser were afterwards left with an hour to kill, while others who thought the women's game started later only got a half's worth of football. Anyway, with the South women being top of the table, I was surprised to see them struggling for most of the game. Perhaps they rested a few players for this game after being knocked out of the cup in midweek by Bulleen?
Melbourne Uni squandered a good chance early on by shooting wide, then hit a penalty against the post and the resulting rebound straight at the South keeper, who worked hard to keep the score respectable. Uni dominated territory for most of the game, with South struggling to work any meaningful maneuvers until well into the second half - apart from a disallowed goal for offside while the game was still scoreless, which would have been grossly against the run of play.
Tiredness obviously played a factor in the result, but so did a lack of composure. There were enough chances when South did get the ball or made interceptions that could've turned out so much better. Still, despite the loss they remain equal first along with Uni. I hope that in future these double headers are scheduled without so much downtime between matches. It'd be OK if we had a social club to occupy our time, but waiting an hour for the men's game to start while we have a player's dreadful taste in music playing over the speakers is not the most edifying experience.
As for the men, three points, but otherwise neither here nor there
Steven Hatzikostas back in, Amadu Koroma rested, and Nikola Roganovic back in between the sticks after injuring himself during Wednesday night's warm-up. Close enough to a full squad in its usual set up so as to provide no excuses against an opponent which has shown improvement, but was still bottom of the table. Northcote, like so many teams which play against South Melbourne, showed some initiative - in the opinion of our fans, perhaps more than normally would, which satisfies our own ego, but which if true makes things harder for us - but their best efforts mostly consisted of counter attacking that fell short at the first hurdle, being unable to beat the offside trap.
|One of South's ball boys shields a photographer from the elements.|
Photo: Paul Mavroudis.
Conceding a goal from a corner was horrifying from the point of view of conceding another goal from a set piece, but also from a corner delivered in the manner that we scarcely dare try ourselves. That we restored our two goal buffer and maintained it comfortably until the end didn't necessarily create the sense of positive momentum that we're all craving, instead perhaps creating the feeling of doing what had to be done, and absolutely no more or and no less than that. A 2-1 win would have probably sent people into panic mode or something akin to that, railing against a team that couldn't properly dispatch a struggling side. Had we won 4-1 or 5-1, the side would probably be accused of downhill skiing, able to beat up on poor little Northcote but go missing when it counts.
Despite all of that, once again - and really, it's probably just my latest little hang up - the very late subs, this time made in the 88th and 91st minutes, continue to baffle me. Is there that little trust in the capabilities of the bench that they can't be entrusted with maintaining a two goal lead for 12 minutes instead of 5? Against (in midweek) a team a division below us and (yesterday) a team that's bottom of the table by some margin? Even as the coaches keep making reference to how deep our squad is, and how the squad needs to be rotated during those periods of the season with a heavy workload?
I don't know, maybe I bring this up only because when you mostly keep winning, you need to find some obscure area which doesn't seem to be perfect, and then pick on that. I was glad that Leigh Minopoulos got some solid minutes off the bench, and I fancy so were a few other South fans.
After the match
I did not bother with the Greek national team training session, not because of the 90 minute wait after our game for it to begin, but because I couldn't give a rat's about the Greek national team. From the sound of things not too many people made the effort to watch them train, though some of the players themselves reportedly seemed personable and willing to mingle with fans.
By the way, I had a look at the ticket prices for tomorrow's game partly out of morbid curiosity, and my goodness, they must think the Greek community of Melbourne (and wherever else Greeks may fly or drive in from for this game) are making Calombaris amounts of money.
Port Melbourne at home on Friday night. With the all or nothing FFA Cup grudge match spectacular against Bentleigh coming up soon after this fixture, it will be interesting to see what approach to team selection that Taylor and friends make.
FFA Cup fixture news
Our FFA Cup match away against Bentleigh has been scheduled for Tuesday June 14th, kickoff at 7:30PM.
Tsk, tsk, tsk department
As if wearing number 99 wasn't enough of a rubbish gimmick, Iqi Jawadi has now taken to wearing non-matching boots. Oh for the glory days of 2013, and Renco Van Eeken Fruit Watch. That was both classy, and sending a good message to the children and their parents.
He seems to have vanished off the face of the earth. I'm hearing some talk that he is no longer at the club. If this is true, that would open up some space on our PPS tally.
This souvlaki goes up to eleven
We had a go at Bentleigh earlier this year for their $12 souv, so it's only right that we take aim at the Lakeside souvlaki truck for charging $11 for what is at best only a so-so souv. No wonder I end up eating on Clarendon Street before or after a game. Is the rent at Lakeside really that onerous?
Speaking of which
How's the social club coming along?
I'm going to take a wild stab at this and say not very good.
Luke Adams scores exactly the kind of goal you'd expect him to
Being Greek, for one night only
Chris Egan and I ended up at Jack Edwards Reserve mostly because it was raining, and because Kevin Bartlett Reserve has no shelter. Oakleigh scored after two minutes, Bulleen missed a glorious chance to equalise a minute later, and as far as I'm concerned, that was that, though the home side added a couple more goals for good measure. I was impressed with the style of the two sides in the wet conditions, as both tried to be patient and play the ball on the ground, but there is such a thing as being too patient. Then we ended up at Vanilla because Chris wanted to see where Melbourne Greeks go to be Greek I suppose.
Belles of Ballarat
The last, and only other time that I'd gone to see the Matildas play a match was ten years ago. On that day, there were about a hundred people at Lakeside, most of them probably Mexican fans. The four or five or so Aussie fans standing on Clarendon Corner (including myself) waved a couple of flags, and even managed to convince the referee to award a corner that probably wasn't (I thought it was, so at least I was being honest), which the Matildas scored from. How's that for changing the course of history? Still, interest was so low that the Matildas' next game was played at Port Melbourne of all places. But things have changed now, and people are more interested in the Matildas and women's soccer in general. So when it was announced that they'd be playing a game in Ballarat, one couldn't help but feel that there was too much novelty value to ignore, even with a Paisley Park derby option closer to home.
Arriving in Ballarat one knew from past experience that the bus situation wasn't great, so Gains and I caught a cab to the ground, with our taxi driver singing along to a country and western CD. Upon entering the ground I saw that the stand was reserved, though what the point of that was considering the stand has no roof I'm not sure. There were food options for both pleb (hot dogs, chips, etc) and wannabe hipster (woodfired pizza, sliders with served brioche buns of a supermarket croissant level of sweetness) alike, on either side of the stand. FFV CEO Peter Gome was wearing a Green Bay Packers jacket, which while appropriate in terms of its colour scheme, prompted one to nevertheless ask the question of why he couldn't have Aussie soccer gear on instead?
The rain wasn't heavy, but it was consistent, and it probably had the effect of keeping some of the locals away. But there was a decent crowd in spite of the conditions (which were mild compared to other Ballarat experiences I've had), though how engaged the crowd were with the game is another matter entirely.
An early and fortunate goal - at least it appeared fortunate from our vantage point directly behind the trajectory of the shot - might have got the crowd into the game a bit, but it felt a bit more like a picnic day, which when all is said and done is perfectly fine. It was a friendly, the game wasn't much good - the Matildas played with very little width, or smarts for that matter - and New Zealand while stout in defense, offered stuff all going the other way. The second Matildas goal seemed to have a bit more style, but moments like that were too few and far between.Decent crowd here at Morshead Park in Ballarat for Matildas vs New Zealand pic.twitter.com/bBcWPHvRE2— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) June 4, 2016
Considering how little anyone cared for the national anthem, one was hopeful that we could get away without a rendition of that bogan chant, but it popped up during the second half, momentarily ruining the whole day. Then I remembered that I had some raspberry drops that Chris Egan had bought (on my request) during his visit to Sovereign Hill earlier that day, and things weren't so bad anymore. It was also good to catch up with fellow FFV Historical Committee member Maggie Khoumi, Shoot Farken's Athas Zafiris, as well as Oz Soccer's legendary stats man Andrew Howe. Not a bad day overall, and being able to catch the train from Sunshine instead of Footscray or Spencer Street was a nice touch.
Three consecutive days spent watching soccer in cold, wet and rainy conditions has not been kind to my health this week.