Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Making up ground - South Melbourne 1 Hume City 0

Leigh Minopoulos had a good game on Sunday. Photo: Hume City.
Such has been the season thus far that I don't know what to expect from South Melbourne in any given game. Most surprisingly, in this game we actually played pretty well. It was an open game, but while we gave Hume the first good chance of the game via Nick Hegarty, after that there was little doubt that we were the better team - at least until about the 60th minute or so.

Shaking off last week's mediocre performance, Leigh Minopoulos looked particularly good on the right hand side. Matthew Millar continues to frustrate, but in the past few weeks he's managed to be more effective. His effort never drops below a high level, but his skill level lets him down too often - to my mind, it's almost like watching an Aussie rules player playing soccer - remarkable endurance and desire for the contest, but lacking the kind of proficiency.

Nevertheless, he was skillful enough to control the rebound of a Nick Epifano cross, slotting the ball into the corner and giving us a deserved lead. While we continued to press for another goal, the game then became mired in sloppy tackles and bad officiating. Before we'd scored, Milos Lujic - who seems to be slowly coming back to form, even though he didn't score here - should have been awarded a penalty after LITERALLY BEING WRESTLED TO THE GROUND.

I cannot fathom how it wasn't given. Amazingly, that was the least of the ref's stuff ups, as he then started letting retaliation go unpunished, and we all know what happens when you do that - players start taking that as a license to act like dickheads. You give some of those blokes an inch, and they'll take a mile. It didn't end up with people coming to blows, as can happen in the worst case scenarios, but it did up becoming a tit-for-tat affair in that regard.

Matthew Millar's placement for the winning goal was pretty precise.
Photo: Hume City.
Former South defender Brian Bran got two yellow cards (both justified, and oddly enough both for fouls, not irrelevant nonsense), and then, for who knows what reason, the team started playing as if we were down to nine men and needing to preserve the lead at all costs. It wasn't that Hume played particularly well, though like many sides down to ten men but still only a goal down, they lifted their intensity accordingly. It was more the fact that our side had lost the plot completely.

Those last 25 minutes were bizarre in how frantic our play was, being unable to make our numerical advantage count either in terms of fitness, or in tactics, or in psychology. While some have chosen to single out the People's Champ for having an especially poor last half hour or so after having up to that point played quite well - the whole midfield basically disappeared, and the defense was able only to to give the ball back to our opponents.

To their credit, for the most part the South defense did very well in keeping Hume from creating meaningful chances. Watching the highlights, Attila Offli's late chance looked much more dangerous than it probably was in real time, with Nikola Roganovic cutting down the angles well, forcing Offli to shoot over the top and over the bar. Set pieces were the only other major threat presented by Hume, and for the most part they were not up to scratch despite an array of options (OK, at least two) they didn't do very much with any of their set pieces.

Perhaps the circumstances were such that direct play was considered their main chance at scoring, but it's been a while since I've seen a Hume side play that direct. I suppose if you have a big body like Liam Boland up front, there are worse plans, but considering our defensive weakness continues to be primarily against teams who play the ball on the ground, it was a strange choice to be so adamant on that singular approach. That they had any say in the matter is the disappointing thing. A second goal - and we still managed to create chances - would have killed this off properly. (see Knights vs Oakleigh in 'around the grounds' for an example of what happens when you do this)

Whatever happened, the result went our way, making it three wins in a row, and four games unbeaten in the league. It's a step closer to the top six, just two (!) games away from the top of the table, and just as importantly, three points away from the playoff relegation spot. While one can obsess about the largely self-inflicted near self-destruction, we shouldn't forget the first hour or so, where we played our best football of the season against a side that will be near be there or thereabouts come season's end.

Extra-curricular activities
The game was marred - I don't know if that's the right word to use, but let's go with it for the time being - by a sort of competitive 'trumpet off' between South's own Harry and some of the visiting Hume fans. Now in the interests of less inaccuracy (rather than old fashioned and rather dull 'accuracy'), we should note that there were no trumpets used. As Harry has made clear in the past, he does not play a trumpet, but rather a bugle. As for the relevant Hume persons, they were playing what sounded like prerecorded tunes through a megaphone. Why they were allowed to use a megaphone I don't know, but for those who find one messily played bugle too much to handle, it was beyond the pale so to speak.

It created a sort of carnival of horrors vibe, albeit in broad daylight and without all the trappings necessary for the full effect to take hold, such as rides which I wouldn't go on if you paid me, dodgy games of skill (notwithstanding the team's efforts in the last 25 minutes), and an overwhelming sense of impending doom which could just be nausea from eating way too much junk food. However, one did as one is forced to do in many things Australian soccer, and just put up with it.

Unfortunately at the end of the game near the players race, some rather more distasteful scenes reportedly happened. As I was keen to get in and out of the social club as quickly as possible so I could go home, I didn't see what happened; thus I'm not going to repeat specific allegations of what allegedly happened. I will note that the overwhelming consensus seems to be that the blame for whatever occurred should rest on a minority of Hume's supporters, and not with the South fans in the vicinity, who were there to celebrate with our players after a win, as has become the custom at the reconfigured Lakeside.

Next game
At home this Wednesday night against NPL 2 side Box Hill United in the FFA Cup. Entry for all patrons will be via the social club entrance. Prices for non-members are $10 adult, $7 concession. I was a bit surprised to see that the club chose to stream the game against Hume City live on Facebook - I'm not sure if at this stage they'll be doing the same for this match, but I suppose it's possible.

For those wondering about entry in general
It seems to be that for most games the club will be employing only the social club entry. For games likely to have a bigger attendance, Gate 2 will be opened for non-South members. If you're in any doubt about what the arrangement will be for any given week, your best bet is to keep up to date with the club's social media accounts. This is likely due to cost saving in not needing to employ several State Sports Centre Trust staff members for a superfluous gate on fixtures not likely to draw too many people; of course the club would also see the benefit of, where possible, funneling people through the social club.

While I've found the service in the social club to be improving week
 on week, our mate Dave had a bit of trouble getting his
 chicken burger delivered in a timely manner.
Continuing social club musings
One of the more unforeseen happenings - especially considering that even though it's a new social club, it's still in the same location as the old one - is how disorienting it feels coming out of the social club and all of a sudden having a game about to start.

Anyway, in line with the advice of one of the board members, along with a bit of common sense (I know, I know), my approach on critiquing the social club operation has been to give the people running the social club a solid month or so to settle into their rhythms, before one goes into a more delirious mode of criticism.

Not that I would ever be anything other than meticulously fair in my criticism, of course.

As the social club meal service begins to settle down, things are beginning to gently hit their stride. This week for example the full menu was available throughout the day. Thus one could go 'traditional' and go for a souv - which seemed to get larger and larger each time I looked at one coming out of the kitchen - or one could go a bit more nouveau riche and go for something like the salmon. I had the plain burger this week, and I was not disappointed. There's talk also that there'll be further tweaks to the menu as a whole; even this week, the meat platter that was served to patrons differed from the one that was served last week.

Provisional things that I learned from this week included:
  • While it's self-evident to a degree, the earlier you get there to order a meal, the better. This seems to go for everything except souvs, which seem to be done pretty quickly no matter what time of day you order one. I haven't stayed behind for long after a game yet, so I can't comment on the speed of meal service after a game.
  • Probably the worst time to order food would be around the time the kitchen is preparing the post-match feed for the curtain raiser match, which also coincides with when the majority of people rock up to the venue.
  • If something's taking a bit too long or isn't quite up to your satisfaction, don't be shy in taking it up with staff in a respectful manner. They seem to be pretty keen to impress and make people feel at home.
  • Be prepared for the occasional bout of confusion between sit down and take away meals.
  • The in-house music is at best only marginally better than what's played outside. Still, if they include naff retro gems like this every now and again, I'm not going to complain too much.
  • Do not lean back on your chair, do not twist your body such that you twist the chair, and basically do not sit on any of the chairs in any way that would be classified as improper chair usage. 
A social club suggestion
This wasn't my idea, but it's worth a mention - a hall of fame for everyone who has accidentally broken one of the chairs in the social club. 

A little something about the rules of the game (something which will come back to haunt me)
Here's a decent video from FFV - which I wish had been promoted a bit harder - explaining changes to certain rules that have been implemented this season, including denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity, or what is colloquially (and incorrectly) known as the 'last man' rule. It's certainly worth a look for any follower of the game.

How appealling!
The club appealed Kristian Konstantinidis' six month ban and somehow got it reduced to a 16 match ban, which could see Konstantinidis return to action sometime in July instead of a week or two before the grand final. Something to do with the difference between a single photograph and a video.

It's not easy being a South fan these days, but there are moments which are
more spiritually alienating than others. One of those involves finding
 yourself wearing your South scarf or other merchandise in a crowd of footy
 fans, as is often the case for those like me who use public transport. After
 the Hume game I found myself at Southern Cross Station inadvertently
 mingling with  the mainstream masses who had just left the St Kilda vs
 Geelong game at Docklamds. At least no one mistook me for a
 North Melbourne fan.
Around the grounds
If Jason Hicks played for Bentleigh, he'd be scoring those sitters, ala Tyson Holmes
Having waited until almost the latest possible moment to see if Knights had put up their video from last week's game, I admitted defeat and decided to head out to Somers Street for their match against Oakleigh. I geared up for my usual attempt to hustle my way into the car park for free courtesy of my media pass, but there was no one manning the gate. The reserves game had been called off due to the state of the pitch, but the senior match would go ahead. While the ref had decided the senior match could and would go ahead, both teams were apparently more than happy for the match to have been postponed. Five minutes into a game that would be affected by uneven and dead bounces and unsure footing, Knights would have wished that the ref had called it off. Knights goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers, who should've been sent off last for Bruce Lee antics, got sent off for fouling Nate Foster - who I am always shocked to learn is back in Victoria - who was through on goal and sure to score. So Knights were down to ten men, and down a goal courtesy of the resulting penalty. And yet they proceeded to produce three great chances, at least one of which should've ended up in an equaliser. None of them did, and Oakleigh got a second before halftime, another just after halftime, and three more for good measure to inflict a pretty demoralising defeat on the home side.

When it rains, it pours, metaphorically speaking
The next day, I was at Westgate vs Banyule, looking at the sky and wondering why I hadn't brought my umbrella - and whether it was worth going home to get, and whether I'd bother to return if it started raining. As to the game itself, both defenses were pretty ordinary, but Banyule had a plan going forward and Westgate didn't. That doesn't explain everything that went wrong for the home side, but it's as good a start as any. Banyule were also more skillful than their opponents, and didn't get a man sent off for threatening to rape the 'mum, dad, brother and sister' of an opponent. All up it finished a ridiculous 8-3 to Banyule - a scoreline so absurd, and a margin so comfortable, that one of the Banyule players was able to periodically receive updates on the Footscray-Brisbane match from a mate on the sideline. How very Melbourne.

Final thought
While Lisa De Vanna is clearly a class or two above the WNPL, she's still a joy to watch. It's well worth making some time to watch her play while she's with us. And that's not a slight on the rest of the team either - there's some good up-and-comers in the squad, many of them surprisingly young and with improvement yet to come.

11 comments:

  1. The fights at the end were a disgrace
    David did nothing wrong he simply jumped over to walk into the players race and they confronted him them
    What annoyed me most was when the juniors aka the South kids were acting like oh we are gonna bash the Hume fans

    ReplyDelete
  2. Best thing I heard all night was someone, I think a south junior said, go back to f****** Broadmeadows you Derro c****

    Made my day

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hate 4pm kickoffs
    Can we at least have some other time slots

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apart from the odd Friday night game now that the social club is open, I like 4:00 Sunday kickoffs.

      Delete
  4. A good first half, and thought we deserved to be up 1-0 at the half time break. For some reason, we just fell away for the last 30-40 minutes of the game. Good to get the win in the end.

    Paul - was curious to hear your thoughts on the menu of the South social club. Are they trying to be too fancy with the menu?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There may be room for something like kids menu options, but I'm glad that they aren't offering things like dim sims and chiko rolls. Otherwise, the menu so far seems to be good.

      Delete
  5. This game really shit me because as soon as this nonsense rumour of us having bought off referees starts getting around we have a clear penalty not given!! I even heard some idiot during the match say something like 'there's too much heat cos hume are turks'. Seriously, wtf??

    and why is all this off the pitch stuff happening to us, its like were a magnet or something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are the only club that gets a decent following of sorts.

      We must be at least double anyone else insofar as memberships/attendances are concerned.

      Naturally, we get the most attention from opposition supporters/clubs.

      Delete
    2. It's all starting to unravel, soon you guys will have all points deducted and relegated lol

      Delete
  6. Hey Paul,

    Hope your keeping warm in this crappy weather.

    I cant make tonights game, any word on if the game will be streamed live anywhere?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure. Probably best to keep tabs on the club's Facebook page around kickoff time.

      This weather is fantastic by the way.

      Delete

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