This week's excuse for a late post is that I didn't finish this by Thursday night, and the next day I was off to Sydney for a couple of days thanks to a $50 Jetstar voucher someone gave me late last year. That's how they get you of course, but we can safely say that apart from an airport train and Frango's Chicken, Melbourne still has Sydney beat on the important things like weather and geographical flatness.
Also, my flight home got delayed by about 40 minutes because of some sort of passenger argle bargle at the front of the plane. Thanks a lot, chumps.
As for Wednesday's game, some people (who knew at least which division our opponents were in) were suggesting that we'd smash Langwarrin. I wasn't so sure. They've got a few ex-top tier NPL players in their squad, including Fraser Maclaren, Roddy Covarrubias, Wayne Wallace, David Stirton (allegedly), and maybe one of the Websters. Not leading their division, but in the playoff hunt, and with players "built for cup football" which is I believe the naff generalisation I used on the night.
Despite the "big names" of Langwarrin, and South fielding a weakened/non-full cream squad, it was us who opened the scoring, by which I mean Pep Marafioti sent across a, er, cross, which Nick Krousoratis - remember him? - controlled the ball beautifully at the back post for the opening goal. I mean, it was an empty net, but that ball was flying across, and it necessitated something very much like a volley at pace to score the goal.
Meanwhile, rather than outwardly celebrating too much - after all, it was just one goal, very early - some of us in Clarendon Corner attempted (mostly by accident) to make Krousoratis' effort someone what lesser than what it was, by comparing it to the four or five much easier chances that Andy Brennan missed in the home league match against Green Gully last year.
Those not in the mood for self-flagellation continued looking the search for Stirton. Surely as a redhead, he'd stand out? Had he bleached his hair? Was he tall or short? While everyone was trying to locate Stirton, Wayne Wallace somehow managed to elude three centre-backs (Adams, KK, Marshall) heading home Langwarrin's equaliser. Thus followed about ten minutes of play where Langwarrin outpaced our defenders and we did that thing where we don't have much of the ball for some reason,
At that stage Langwarrin looked quick, and not at all like the hit and hope side that existed for decade under Gus MacLeod and Caleb Nichols. Neither were they were particularly hacky in the tackling department. We worked our way back to opening them up, but missed oodles of good chances. Marcus Schroen was a major culprit again on that front, scuffing a virtual tap-in from a Pep Marafioti ball into the box, but Schroen wasn't alone on that front with several players missing good chances.
Now admittedly the second half is a bit of a blur to me now several writing this several days (and a couple of plane trips, a footy match, and a gallery visit) after the game, but I seldom thought that Langwarrin looked overly threatening during the second half. Some people remember a glancing header that could've gone anywhere but missed, but I think to myself, if that was from Covarrubias is anyone so shocked that it missed?
That's not a slur on that particular player, but rather a frank assessment of his capabilities. Maybe with some better finishing Langwarrin could've pushed us to extra time or even have pinched the win. Sure their chances were limited to a ten minute phase in the first half and glancing header in the second, but they did create something. But maybe at the end of the day, one has to perhaps acknowledge that, possibly better wages aside, there's probably a reason even the credentialed players are in NPL 2 and not NPL (1).
For our own part, we created more than enough chances, and screwed most of them up with abysmal finishing. On came Billy Konstantinidis from the bench to show the children how it's done. Another great Pep Marafioti cross was met by an excellent Konstantinidis header, and we were back in front and seldom ever troubled from that point on, even with a healthy dose of injury time.
While the first half was reasonably clean on the discipline front, the second was much messier. The visitor's tackling got more fierce and/or reckless, and there was also some behind the scenes nonsense. In the lead-up to our second goal, Gerrie Sylaidos was sandwiched in a tackle by two Langy players - we hope he's fine. Less optimistic is the outlook for Luke Adams, whom forum rumours are suggesting will be out for the rest of the season with a serious knee injury.
So while it was fun to win the game and progress to the next round, it did come at a cost to our chances of surviving the drop this season, which remains our chief concern. This is especially the case now that Oakleigh has started claiming points at a brisker pace, and as other teams (Dandy City) start splurging on former A-League players.
But still, comedy Darwin Olympic chants aside - and the hope that we can catch the desert bus on the way to Darwin - there are already people asking when the next round will be drawn. Sorry to say folks that it probably won't be until late next week, after the remainder of round six matches are completed. Thus far, the only other team to have made it through to round seven is NPL2 side Moreland Zebras, who took out State League 2 side Westgate 2-0.
But look at you all now. Just a couple of weeks ago you were all doom and gloom, and now you're all excited to be going to South games again, thinking that the world is once becoming our oyster, sort of. You're nothing but a pack of fickle mush-heads.
Sunday arvo (ie, tomorrow) at Lakeside against Bentleigh Greens, who are fresh off beating the previously unbeaten Avondale, but who also begin a new era without coach John Anastasiadis, who has moved across to an assistant role at Western United. Will they rest players in this game due to their having a cup game in midweek? We can only hope that they do, and that we can take advantage of that.
Signings! Two of them!
The club has announced its first two two signings of the mid-season transfer window. One is midfielder Melvin Becket most recently from NPL2 side Geelong, as well as (to quote one of smfcfans.com's more knowledgeable posters) Pascoe Vale, Port Melbourne, Melbourne Knights, Oakleigh, and Altona Magic.
The other signing is Josh Dorron, a goalkeeper from Doveton. Yes, he is that Josh from the cup game against Doveton two weeks ago, and whom rumour was circulating about last week. You may also recall that I suggested last week that if the club did sign him, it would be in large part due to him having the rare honour of being a lower league player who performed in front an actual South Melbourne power-broker.
If that sounds like a harsh assessment of our recruiting methods, well at least I didn't suggest that Dorron (and how much of the mystique is gone now that he has a surname?) was signed because he's a massive unit.
There's still strong talk about Peter Skapetis being brought across to the club. While I have discussed the implications of such a thing happening on the terraces, in terms of who would be dropped to the bench, and who would be let go completely - it's probably not worth putting the effort playing that hypothetical while he's not been officially signed yet.
After much disappointment at missing the no. 12 tram back into the city, I walked up Clarendon Street to the corner of Park, hoping to catch the no. 1 instead. A great end to a top-night all round. Didn't even need to jaywalk.