This was a game essentially defined by two phenomena: first, South putting in a hell of an offensive effort, going some way to reclaiming the club's honour, before the coaches lost their nerve; second, an on and off-field hostility between the two sides that is threatening to get out of control.
With no Milos Lujic, it was always going to be interesting to see who Taylor would start up front. To that end, we saw both Leigh Minopoulos and Manolo start, up front no less, and the instruction was clear - pressure Bentleigh up the field, don't give them too much time on the ball, don't let them play too easily out from the back.
It wasn't a full proof plan - no plan is - but for so much of this game, we were the better team. That relative dominance didn't translate into a ton of a chances, but at the very least Bentleigh - the benchmark team of 2016 - looked frazzled, human.
Sport is not only physical, it's also mental - it's a cliché, but here's a whole bunch more. You have to believe you can win the game, and you have to believe that the opponent is beatable. Facing an opponent that has the wood on you, that may even believe that should it do everything right that it can't lose to you, you have to find a way to undermine that belief.
And for a long time in this game, we had self-belief, and we shook - however minutely - Bentleigh's belief in itself. You could see it from early on in the match, where the Greens' players began resorting to melees and some less than professional conduct, chief of those being Brad Norton being charged into the fence early on in the game.
Getting into half time up 1-0 despite Luke Adams' dismissal (I was too far away to see if it was warranted or the right call) was good, but as important was how we'd done it. Even in the second half we looked good, and then we took off Manolo (I assume because he's not fit enough to run out a game yet), took off Minopoulos (not sure why) and were left with no forwards on the park.
The dismissal of Kamal Ibrahim so soon after he came on for the Greens should have made our task easier, but instead we copped a goal from a set piece, and then did what we have done for much of the season, which is if not capitulate, then lose our way to such an extent that goals against us come in bursts.
Yes, Chris Irwin (getting a serious dose of chrono-poisoning), had a great chance to get us a second goal and give us back the momentum, but what had earlier looked like a cohesive effort was no longer quite there. Does Bentleigh therefore take more confidence out of a game like, where they played beneath their best (in large part due to South's efforts) but still got the points? Does the end of the game undo all the good we had achieved before that?
Off the field, things seemed to get very nasty, especially towards the end of the game. Standing behind the goals at the car park end during the second half, the South fans and Bentleigh's keeper were able to have some decent banter without crossing the lines - though the keeper's hissing noises were and are perplexing. At the end of the game, Bentleigh's keeper was able to be gracious in victory, and the South supporters behind the goals took his in the right spirit, despite our obvious disappointment in the result
Things seemed to be much less pleasant under the shed, especially the interactions between our supporters and Bentleigh coach Johnny A, which culminated in Anastasiadis gesturing to his players to celebrate their third goal in front of the South fans
That's not to excuse either party's behaviour, or even make comment on what exactly was going on in that vicinity during the second half - I wasn't anywhere near enough to comment on the specifics either way (and likewise on other allegations made about racist, sexist or violent comments made during the game) - only to note that from where I stood it looked very bad, and that such incidents can quickly escalate out of control.
Following on from the relative PR win of the Victory incident, it's a timely reminder that the ability to claim the moral high ground is only yours so long as you act up towards that standard; the moment you slip from that perch, you could lose more than the right to point the finger at others' poor behaviour.
As for the league season, we are now in second place, trailing Bentleigh by two points and a fair chunk of goal difference. Losing more players to red cards and yellow cards won't do us any favours. And if we want to finish top of the table, we need to quickly turn this new found enthusiasm and attitude into wins, not merely respectable performances - while hoping that Bentleigh's more crowded schedule also takes its toll at some point.
Oakleigh away on Sunday evening.
Please note that kickoff for the under 20s match has been moved to after the conclusion of the senior match.
'It's a legitimate complaint' department
One of our readers asked me on Friday night why we weren't wearing our white away strip. In the darker corners of Kingston Heath's main pitch, it was at times difficult to tell apart the two sides as dark green and darkish blue began to blend in to each other - and the mist that settled on the field also didn't help matters. Would it not also have made it easier for our own players to see each other? As our friend noted, we have an away strip, why not use it?
'There's a heartbeat' - social club news
Towards the end of a new weekly video segment the club has begun releasing, there was information provided about the imminent working on the social club and affiliated areas.
As has been explained earlier by the club itself, the fit-out of the office spaces will be the first can off the rank - my mail is that this will take approximately three weeks. Some people may be/are confused by why the change rooms need to be worked on, what with having possibly seen the main part of the home change rooms (especially, after say, after a title win) which look fantastic. What I'm being told is that the bath, shower and toilet facilities, which haven't been properly maintained since the end of the NSL, are in dire need of replacing. Whether that's done immediately, I don't lnow, but they will be done.South Melbourne to start work on upgrading its exclusive areas at Lakeside - including the SOCIAL CLUB https://t.co/b0B0m9x6BU #PS4NPLVIC— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) July 4, 2016
Oh, and the 'heartbeat' of the segment's title? That's a reference to the fact that the power is connected to the social club once more - things are ever so gradually getting into gear...
There's a first time for everything
Thank you to Nasya Bahfen quoting a passage out of my (at this time) lone academic article in her recently published journal article on Melbourne Heart and perceptions of race and ethnicity.
Thanks not only to SMFCMike for giving me and Gains a lift back to the station, but to everyone else who offered - you're all champs!