Sunday, 26 August 2018

So it's come to this, he says, again - Avondale 6 South Melbourne 2

Gains and I took the 58 tram through the inner north yesterday on our way to the game. On its mazy route the tram goes by the Queen Vic markets, the zoo, and several hospitals. So many opportunities to do something more worthwhile with our Saturday afternoon. But then what kind of South fans would we be if we did that?

It's good what Avondale have done with their refurbishment of the Reggio Calabria Club, and it'll be even better when they put in the grandstands and sheltered areas. Everyone who has given them stick for Doyle Street and their shifting from ground to ground also has to give them credit for establishing a much needed spectator friendly match day venue for the inner north.

Some people still hoped for a win, or a draw. The most I was hoping for was a loss that didn't destroy our "goals for and against" tally, and that Hume would do us a favour by beating Gully later that evening. Of course neither of those things happened, and our survival now hinges on last day heroics or, more likely, some kind of dumb, undeserved luck going our way.

We started the game half asleep but woke up before any damage had been done. That didn't mean we dominated the game in its early stages, but we were at least trying. Still, every time Avondale went up the other end of the field, they looked like they were a good chance to score. Corner after corner was repelled, while we resorted to long balls into space.

Funnily enough, that tactic worked enough to get us the lead, not even entirely against the run of play. Pep Marafioti slotting his penalty was a good morale booster for the day, and for Pep personally, as his form in front of goals had been scratchy in the past couple of games. Sadly, we couldn't hold onto that lead for the rest of the first half. At that moment you kinda knew what was going to come in the second half.

Worse, because we'd taken the lead, the usual bipolar suspects had started dreaming again of a late and unexpected finals run. The team's performances have hurt supporters, that's true, but some people have been just as responsible for the damage done to themselves due to their inability to maintain a proper emotional equilibrium. That, and they choose to ignore what has been staring them in the face for most of the season: that regardless of its configuration, the team has been mostly a shambles this season, perched on a perpetual ledge of imminent self-immolation.

Everyone reacts to a game differently, and how boring would it be if everyone supporting the game was an emotionally distant chin-stroker? As for me, I might not react as outwardly incensed and on the verge of a nervous breakdown as some, but I hurt just the same. After all, everybody hurts, sometimes™, and my goodness hasn't there been so much hurt this season, and possibly worse to come next week. You know, I got to the stage yesterday where I though to myself, even if we survive this season, we'll probably get relegated next year?

Maybe I'm just trying to pretend that, whatever happens next week, there will still be a club to follow next year. Maybe all I'm hoping for is that if we do end up relegated, that we don't end up in NPL 2 East purely from a personal travel convenience standpoint, though that's probably what will happen, and how much that would suck despite the opportunity for long train trips into the country. As morbid as that sounds, is it any worse than getting into arguments with Shouty Mike from a distance of 50 metres, like two small dogs safely locked away in their suburban front yards, yapping at each other's voices?

When we pulled it back to 4-2 - and I'm still not convinced the ball went over the line, but I'll defer to those in a better position - I hoped not for a comeback, but for damage limitation. That was also too hopeful. Another two goals conceded, including one right on full time which makes you wonder what the referee's motive was in playing five minutes injury time when the game was done and dusted anyway.

We fought for a bit, but as soon as adversity struck - in the form here of Elvis Kamsoba, probably the season's most improved player - we just couldn't keep up. Sometimes it's a matter of not wanting it as much as the other team, but more often this season it's just been about not being good enough. There are myriad reasons for that, endlessly explored here and especially elsewhere, and most of which will get turned over again during the off-season.

For now, as doubtful as I am that we can do it, I want more than for the team to do enough to survive. I don't care about board egos, and I don't care about which players aren't going to be there next year. Just get the damn job done, and can resume tearing each other apart after that.

Next week
Port Melbourne at home. We hope this will be our last game of the season.

But it might not be
Kingston beat Heidelberg by a large margin on Friday night, in a result some are calling very suspicious; nevertheless, that win has secured their NPL survival. Dandenong Thunder beat Northcote last night, also securing their survival. Last night, Green Gully came from behind twice to draw with Hume City. It is not a result that does us any favours; then again, even a point in any of our previous three matches could've made this discussion moot.

That discussion is of course the relegation discussion, one we were *this* close to not having to deal with a few weeks ago following our win over Gully, but following a three game run where we've conceded sixteen goals, it is very much a possibility.

There had been some debate yesterday on the order of tie-breaking procedures in the event that two or more teams finished on the same amount of points. I was of the opinion that goal difference was the most important consideration, while some said that head-to-head was the most important factor.  Upon looking at the NPL regulations, it is clear that goal difference has primacy over head-to-head.
4.5.4. If one (1) or more Teams finish the Regular Season on the same number of
points, their final position will be determined as follows:
  • a. The Team with the greatest Goal Difference will finish higher. 
  • b. If Goal Difference is the same, then the Team that has scored the most Goals FOR will be deemed to have finished higher. 
  • c. If Goal Difference is the same and Goals FOR is the same, then the final order will be determined by the aggregate results of Competition Fixtures played between those Teams For the current Regular Season (excluding Cup Fixtures). 
  • d. If the aggregate scores between the Teams are the same, then AWAY goals will count as double.
As a point of hopefully useless trivia, if after all that two teams are still inseparable, a playoff match will be arranged.

So keeping all of that in mind, here's how things currently stand.

Gully plays Kingston at home, while Hume is away to Pascoe Vale. Leaving aside conspirational thinking about what their opponents may do in terms of resting players and such, the circumstances are reasonably clear:

  • If we win, we're safe regardless of what Gully or Hume do. 
  • If we draw, then we rely upon a) Hume failing to win, or b) Gully losing, drawing, or winning by fewer than three goals, unless Gully end up winning by a two goal margin via the absurdly high scoreline of at least 8-6 (assuming our game against Port finishes 0-0).
  • If we lose, we rely upon either Gully or Hume failing to win.

Final thought
No reader comments will be published this week. If you have a grievance with the board, take it up with them directly. For whatever it's worth, I think all our efforts this week should be on supporting the team to make one final push for survival. That's the extent of my inspirational capabilities at this stage.