Monday, 3 July 2017

Coming up short - South Melbourne 1 Green Gully 2

Luke Adams puts in a cross during injury time. Photo: Cindy Nitsos. 
It's a good thing we've hit the month leading up the FFA Cup proper, and people have stopped caring about our league form. If the loss to Bentleigh in the Dockerty Cup semi final didn't freak out anybody, and a scratchy win against Oakleigh was overshadowed by the antics of Dr Aki, then yesterday was just plain old disappointing. And while some have sought to make claims for being unlucky, or counting it as a sort of blessing for shaking us out of our complacency - a necessary wake up call coming into the squeaky bum time of the season - I would've preferred we got the points and deal with the complacency in a different way.

And to think that we started this game off so well, with our most blistering counter-attack goal since forever. It looked like a fully fledged credible professional goal. Not some fluke long bomb, not a goal mouth scramble, not some dire defensive error, but a ridgy-didge team goal executed with flair and polish. Then we sat back, or least gave Gully too much room to waltz around the middle of the park. I'm not sure if it was an instruction, or something instinctive in the players as a whole, but it has happened on a few occasions this season where we've given the opposition to show initiative for reasons I'm not able to understand - neither do I exactly know who to blame.

I speculate that there was some instruction to sit back from Chris Taylor, because Leigh Minopoulos was sitting quite deep and playing pretty close to Matthew Foschini. Leigh's a good player, but he's not necessarily a defensive or grunt style player, so it seemed odd to me that he'd be so far back. I said to a mate I reckon he'd be subbed for Stefan Zinni, and lo and behold, that's almost what happened in the second half - though instead of Zinni, it was David Barca Moreno who replaced Leigh. But more on that later.

The absence of Michael Eagar due to suspension didn't help matters - his reading of the play both at centre back and on his forays to defensive mid to clean up attacks has been a big part of our turnaround in form. Kristian Konstantinidis, finally back after his long suspension, filled in for Eagar, but it didn't quite feel the same. This is understandable, because Konstantinidis has been out of the game for ages. Still, it was a general issue across the park. Gully's first goal from a corner was the tip of the iceberg - we'd been struggling to clear our lines, and it was only right that they'd pull the goal back from a goal mouth scramble.

That's not to say that we'd given up attacking, and we had our fair share of moments in the first half, but our execution let us down. But the sloppy play cost us at the other end of the ground as well, when Jesse Daley's misplaced pass in midfield, and Jonathan Bounas being allowed to ungracefully stroll through midfield by Daley and Luke Pavlou and launch a bomb. So, 2-1 down at half time, and in the second half more casual defending gifted Gully the chance to extend their lead.

But credit to the South boys, they had by far the better of the second half. A pity that our crosses were dealt with too easily most of the time, and that luck wasn't on our side. But you also make your own luck, and Daley being carded in the box for a dive, and then Millar (the latter at least probably a slip than simulation, but he was certainly claiming the foul).

Nick Epifano shot high from the edge of the area when he should've at least hit the target. Barca Moreno, who did little of note during his stint, missed an open header in injury time - a sharp chance, yes, but one he should score. And Milos Lujic thought he'd be smart and put his penalty shot (earned by a Zinni run) straight down the middle, again, but Lewis Spine didn't fall for it. The short corner played at the death was the stuff of a million South Melbourne short corner nightmares.

The loss is a setback, because having worked so hard to work our way to a share of top spot, we've fallen behind both in terms of points (three behind Heidelberg) and lost a good chunk of goal difference because of the Bergers' solid 4-0 win at North Geelong. Seeing as we have Avondale, Bentleigh, Hume and Pascoe Vale to play - as well as the desperate Knights and Kingston, our aim of finishing top, while not gone by a long short, is now that much harder because of this loss. The saving grace may be

Next game
North Geelong away, in the first of four consecutive away matches. I'm looking forward to this one, except for the getting there and back part.

Social club still ironing out the kinks
There was more refinement in the social club menu, though nothing earth shattering. There was pastitsio on the specials board, and I saw South of the Border favourite Savvas Tzionis trying to make headway into what was a frankly ludicrously huge piece.

It was also the first home game in quite some time with the under 20s playing in the curtain raiser. That meant that at least nominally, membership cards should have been scanned and tickets sold right from the start of the day. When having the women's team play the curtain raiser, FFV rules stipulate that club cannot charge for entry before half time of those games - this is because you're not allowed to charge entry for WNPL games.

But on Sunday, there was talk that entry to the venue was not necessarily effectively enforced. While I had my membership scanned, I didn't notice any security early on making sure people entering did the same or at least buy a ticket. To be fair, I think most people turning up did the right thing - and the security/bag check area outside the door leading to the arena was manned, as usual and asking for proof of membership or tickets.

But it seems like both an inefficient and error prone process. I hope it gets sorted out soon.

So it's come to this, again - FFA Cup draw news
The short version is that we've been drawn at home against Edgeworth Eagles for the FFA Cup round of 32. Our match has been scheduled for Wednesday July 26th - the game will also be broadcast on Fox Sports.

The long version is of course much sadder than the short version, because this is what we live for now.

The club put up the notice that they would open up the social club for lunch while the draw was streamed, and yea verily they turned up in their, well, not too bad numbers all things considered. Of those expected to 'represent' in some sense, there were club employees, some board members, Brad Norton and Michael Eagar. As for the fans, it was made of the self-employed, the non-employed, and those within rock throwing distance of Lakeside - all waiting to see who'd we get put up against in this tournament which I loathe with, if not quite every fibre of my being, then at least those bits that I can spare.

Having flown up a number of coaches up to Sydney for the draw, it made sense that the whole thing would be dragged out for as long as it took, but you've got to pity those who took the day off work to do so and then ended up not being interviewed. Aside from having to do deal with Fox stretching the draw out, the lowlight was having to endure the drone of Kenny Lowe's voice. Call me juvenile, but the highlight of the broadcast for me was host Tara Ruhston being caught off-guard when an ad break finished early with the camera, catching her fixing something on her teeth. I don't know why I'm so easily amused when things go even momentarily and minutely wrong on TV.
In the social club there was an unofficial and not very strictly enforced social media embargo placed upon attendees, as the stream was of course on slight but noticeable delay compared to the television feed - you know, to keep the suspense within the social club space itself at a maximum. To be fair, it kinda worked. As numbers were plucked out of the bowl, there seemed to be the inevitable feeling that we'd draw Victory or Palm Beach Sharks Gold Coast City or one of the Victorian teams - though no one seemed to understand that the numbers had no intrinsic value in themselves, and that they were merely representative symbols - having no. 29 picked out is no different to having 156 picked - because no ball had an inherent numerical value,

Then Hume were drawn at home to Bentleigh, and everyone had a big laugh, though on reflection I'm not sure it was actually that funny. I suppose once we get bundled out at the first go again, we can take solace that one of those two will be joining us. And then out came whatever the number was for Edgeworth Eagles, pleasing some people up to a point, but otherwise seemingly leaving no faction happy. Those positively gagging for an A-League tie were left particularly disappointed. I suppose for some it's a missed chance to promote Lakeside as an A-League venue - I mean, in the event that we're still actively striving for that. For others, not going on an away trip was the bigger issue, and I can sympathise - although unlike those hoping for a tropical or exotic escapade - like - Darwin - I was hoping for Hobart or Canberra.

As for possible non-A League home games, Edgeworth aren't exactly anyone's first choice - I think some people would've preferred an old NSL rival. While I'm sure they'll bring down however many numbers that they can, Edgeworth aren't exactly a draw card team. Neither are they an obvious easy beat - after all, they did knock out Bentleigh last year in the national NPL playoffs. In a sense, given the unlikelihood of a big crowd turning up - prove me wrong, bandwagon brigade! - there's not much to gain here for South except progression to the next round. Which, when I think about it, is actually kind of quaint - the event is taking place almost for its own sake. Maybe I've finally found the way I can get on board this farce of a tournament.

Others might be able to make do with spurious nostalgia.
But those people who wanted something where we'd clean up thanks to a big pay day - especially one particular mover and shaker who insisted the draw had been rigged beforehand to put us up against Victory - have been left disappointed. To which I say, suffer in your jocks chin up kiddo, maybe next time. Be like me and remember that of course there's also the usual fact that we have so much to lose - a disappointing crowd and/or a another loss would add to that multi--faceted on the back.

Congratulations to...
South Melbourne WNPL goalscoring machine Melina Ayres, who has been selected for the Young Matildas squad to play a series of preparation matches against Canada and the USA in Canberra, in preparation for the  AFC U19 Women’s Championships. Of course, Ayres having been picked for the Young Matildas before this selection and before she came to South, so it's not like we can take all the credit, but it's a nice thing nevertheless. Someone else is going to have step into the goal scoring breach in her place though, which will be tough as our lead at the top of WNPL ladder is back doiwn to one point after a 3-3 draw away to Geelong in Torquay.

Around the grounds
Yes, we also sell socks at our pro-shop on match days. 
Yes I ended up at a freezing and half blackout affected Somers Street on Friday night for Knights vs Avondale. Watching Knights lose has gotten a bit dull, so I was here to see Avondale as much as anything. Good old Avondale, the team going 1.2222222222222222 goals a game and yet not far off top spot with a couple of games in hand. They led this game early thanks to a penalty, but for those hoping for a Knights collapse, it didn't come. The home side pulled a goal back before the break, and while the game justly ended in a draw, the Knights were the unluckier of the two sides not to pick up all three points. Those who had written Knights off entirely for this season have probably jumped the gun a bit, and one expects a tough encounter for South in two weeks time.

Saturday afternoon was probably the last Paisley Park derby for some time. Altona East were coming off a rare win the week before, but still in second last and in the firing line for relegation to State League 2. Altona Magic have streaked this league, as everyone has expected them to, and promotion to NPL 2 is only a matter of time. It's not unreasonable however to suggest that Magic have overdone the spend this season in pursuit of that aim. Players the calibre of Amadu Koroma, Marinos Gasparis, Joey Franjic, Jason Hayne, and James McGarry make it so much easier. These are all players who should be either in NPL or at worst playing for clubs pushing for promotion in NPL 2. East set up defensively as you'd expect, did well to limit Magic to not much for 44 minutes, then copped a long range effort which hit the crossbar twice and which may or may not have gone in. The out of position linesman gave his assent, and East were stuffed from then on. Two more goals to Magic saw them win this in a saunter. It was actually pretty dull.

Final thought
Credit to the People's Champ for showing some maturity in getting Jesse Daley away from the referee and the Gully players after Daley was booked for diving. Minus credit for the cheap shot the People's Champ gave to a Gully opponent in midfield when he thought the referee wasn't looking.


  1. Perhaps the serving of Pastitsio is a reflection of the Tselementisation of our club? ;)

    1. Good luck getting that to count on a scrabble board.

  2. I am interested in what the social club arrangements will be for the FFA Cup game.

  3. SOCKS!!!

    Will have to grab a pair at the Cup game.


A few notes on comments.

We've had a lot of fun over the years with my freewheeling comments policy, but all good things must come to an end. Therefore I will no longer be approving comments that contain personal abuse of any sort.

Still, if your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet.

As usual, publication of a comment does not mean endorsement of its content.