I scored two free packs of jelly beans on my way up to the ground, thanks to the rail replacement bus scenario (no trains from Coburg to Upfield), witnessed some road rage at the intersection of Jukes Road and Sydney Road, and that's about as much as any South person got out of our trip to Fawkner yesterday. Pretty much everyone expected the team to be flat and tired after the week's events, and that's what happened.
Stefan Zinni and Tim Mala got rare starts, and Luke Adams was also brought back into the starting line up. Jesse Daley, Marcus Schroen and Michael Eagar all rested. Frankly, I don't think anything different would've worked. We had the aid of the strong wind in the first half, but could only really manage to loft balls over the top to Milos Lujic which would eventually drift into the arms of Pascoe Vale goalkeeper Peter Gavalas.
We had a few corners in the first half, but generally struggled to get in behind the Pascoe Vale defence. When the home side scored with a deflected shot, any doubts that this wouldn't be 'one of those games' were put aside. The second half going into the wind was worse, obviously, and when the opposition has who I consider to be the best player in the league in Davey van 't Schip, it's always going to be tough. Of course he scored to put us out of misery. The team rallied a bit from there - one of this team's virtues is that they push through to the end - but it wasn't going to amount to anything. Pascoe Vale could've won by more, but two-nil seems a fair enough scoreline.
I don't want to single anyone out in particular for not delivering yesterday - though I'm sure there's plenty of opinions on who may be apportioned more of the blame - because as a whole the team never looked quite right. The loss hurts our chances for top spot and national NPL playoff qualification, as Heidelberg beat Bentleigh 4-2 on Friday night, re-establishing the Bergers' three point buffer at the top. It was always going to be tough to make up the ground we lost in the first seven games, and once having made it up, to maintain the pressure.
As far our match last night goes, its main point of interest lay in another farcical example of poor duty of care directed towards a player from an opposition coach. This time it was former South man Gavalas who was the victim. Having copped a knock in the first half, he found himself on the receiving end again in the second. Milos Lujic had been released into a rare bit of space and found himself one on one with Gavalas. Lujic dinked the ball past Gavalas, who fell at Lujic's feet and copped a blow to the head.
Under normal circumstances it would've been a penalty, but the flag had gone up for offside, and thus several minutes were spent checking to see if Gavalas was OK. Despite looking pretty damn groggy, someone made the assessment that he should stay on the field. When play eventually resumed and after some time had elapsed, we endured the bizarre situation of Pascoe Vale coach Vitale Ferrante telling the South support behind Gavalas' goal to shut up so that he could ask Gavalas what day of the week it was. If this (and let's not forget this moment as well) is what passes for duty of care and concussion protocols in the NPL, especially in the case of goalkeepers, then we have to start having a really good think about our values as a sport. Gavalas was eventually subbed off in injury time with Pascoe Vale up 2-0 and cruising. He didn't look well.
Wednesday night in a catch up game against Avondale, back at Lakeside.
Around the grounds
Once more, with feeling
My last time at Somers Street for the season, and what a season it's been. I can't say I paid too much attention to this game, especially in the first half, seeing as I was talking about Joe Gorman's new book with a mutual friend. It was a pretty open game and Knights gave as good as they got except for the whole scoring a goal thing. Gully led at the break thanks to a wonderfully struck shot from a loose ball at the edge of the box, the kind of goal I'd like to see South score a bit more often. The second half was more of the same except perhaps a bit crappier. Putting their obvious limitations aside, Knights did everything they possibly could to get into dangerous positions and then did everything they possibly could to not score from them. I was actually kind of surprised that they did score, levelling the game and giving their supporters something to cheer for. The poor dears, as if anything other than Green Gully scoring late was going to happen. And that's exactly what happened. I missed the goal because I was looking at my phone because I'd been tagged in some silly Twitter discussion, but I am assured by a Knights fan who did see it that it was the 'kind of goal we would concede against South'. Which is good enough for me.
After the game had dinner at this Sri Lankan place near the ground, but it took forever to get home yesterday; interminable wait for a replacement bus at the Gowrie stop, another 15-20 minutes at Coburg, and a half hour at North Melbourne. Mood not helped by reading Seneca's On the Shortness of Life, which puts forward the idea that the thing people waste most of all is time, and this includes games. He probably wouldn't have thought much of public transport delays or watching the NPL. But he's a bit of a know-it-all miserable bastard, and we can forgive him for being one, especially because he'll never experience the thrill of walking at night to a car parked near the soon to be derelict supermarket in the dodgy car park near Sunshine station.