This game was so easy that it just might make you re-evaluate everything you think you know about soccer. Or perhaps not.
Just before our game started we were equal on points with Avondale, with the same goal difference, but second overall on the ladder because we'd scored fewer goals. Immediately after kickoff we were top of the league, at least according to the live ladder ("we're top of the league / we're top of the league / check the live ladder / we're top of the league"), and after 90 minutes of play, we were top of the league outright for real, still.
How did this happen? Arguments about the general mediocrity and/or evenness of this league will only take you so far in finding the answer, because even being in an even league, why is it us that's on top? I suppose it helps that we haven't yet played Avondale, Knights, or Bentleigh, but even so... why us? What have we done that's been so remarkable to see us in this position?
We are a hard working team, but surely we're not only the one of those. We appear to be defensively sound in a way that's certainly surprised me, even taking into account Esteban Quintas' penchant for having his team sit back. But we throw up all manner of starting eleven combinations, not all of which (or even most) our very knowledgeable fans would consider our best and likely most effective starting lineup.
But even taking into account that St Albans racked up quite a few corners, they generally sucked. Sure, they had that one shot cleared off the line when they were already 2-0 down, but that was pretty much their contribution to the day. The two goals we scored, while pleasing to us, on further re-watching reveal a pitifully slow response time from the visiting side. Jake Marshall being unmarked at the near post, as the ball was headed back across goal from the far post from a corner? I'll cut them some slack for that one.
But the second goal? It was hardly searing play from us. Neat movement and passing, but nothing obviously devastating. And Gerrie Sylaidos' gently lofted cross to Harry Sawyer? That was pure futsal/indoor/beach soccer shenanigans. Someone in the crowd asked when was the last time we scored from two headers in a game, it being the kind of question which is being asked nowadays because we are unexpectedly not terrible (maybe even "good"). As usual, the answer seems to be not as far back in the distant past as people like to instinctively think, but rather early last year.
My main concern now, in the event that we don't have a mid-season stumble, is that this season will be our own version of The Producers; in that we have gone to the trouble of selecting players and a coach that we thought would not succeed, but which instead will be so successful that it'll send us broke.
The following segment is not a part of Hume's social media antics complaining about the state of refereeing
Aside from the goals and generally non-objectionable play from us, there was one perplexing moment when Harry Sawyer was fouled, and the referee gave what we assumed was a penalty, what with Sawyer having fallen about two metres inside the box. But no, the foul was directed to be taken more or less just outside the penalty area. One can only assume that the referee thought that whatever infringement he thought he was adjudicating had begun outside the box, in which case it is remarkable that Sawyer (even with his height) only managed to come to ground so far inside the box that everyone just assumed that it was a penalty.
But seeing as how we're all older and more tired, and top of the league and whatnot, no one seemed particularly fussed about the whole matter. It was a very mature response from our fans to the fairly confusing sequence of events, which just goes to show that the club is dead or some such. Where was the outrage? Where was the abuse? Where was me remembering to ask referees assessor Chris Bambridge after the game what that whole thing was all about?
Friday night away at Dandenong City.
No idea how I'm supposed to get out there. Good chance of just watching this on the stream instead. A stranger reader of this blog has kindly offered me and a friend a lift to the ground. So, just in case said reader turns out to be an axe-murderer or some such, let me just say it has been a pleasure writing this blog, and that I've enjoyed hanging out with my South friends on the hills and terraces of Victorian soccer.
FFA Cup news
While nothing has been announced "officially", it appears as if our cup tie against Melbourne Knights has been scheduled for Tuesday May 4th, at 7:30PM, That would put it just three days after our Orthodox Easter Saturday league match against Hume, and three days before we play the Knights again in the league. Get ready for some serious squad rotation is all I'm going to say.
Pulling their finger out (when I'm not looking)
Before I even got to Lakeside - more specifically, while I was on the train on the way to the ground - I was streaming the opening half of the women's team match against their most likely title rival Calder United. We were up 1-0 by the time I tuned in, and I had to skim back to see the, as it turned out, quite lovely goal. We then proceeded to spend much of the rest of the first half being very slack with trying to win back possession, and playing many lazy, corner cutting long balls into space, instead of trying to carry the ball further up field. Infuriating play from a team you know can do better, and even more aggravating when they conceded the goal they should have conceded. South were lucky it was not more than one goal at half-time.
Now, to the second half... I was at the club by this stage, but the televisions in the social club were not broadcasting the women's game (that was only happening on the pro-shop's screen), and by the time that was rectified, our women were up 3-1 or something like that, and apparently kicking arse, eventually winning 3-2. Well, I'm glad for the fact that they picked up their game in the second half, even if I didn't get to see the magic happen until afterward on replay.
They'll say you'll miss it when it's gone, but what if you won't?
The St Albans game was first of our seven scheduled Saturday home fixtures, and boy didn't it go down like a lead balloon in terms of attendance and fan engagement. There'll be a millions of excuses, ranging from the obvious and valid, to the abysmal and made-up. The bottom-line though is that the attendance figure, whatever it is officially, was poor, and the attempt to try for a Hume City style reverse fixture order in terms of putting on the 21s game second didn't work either, though it may have saved us a few bucks on hiring security and such.
To be fair, Saturday at 5:00PM is an unusual time, falling in between the final whistle of most state league fixtures and the usual Saturday evening NPL Victoria kickoff time of circa 7:00. And we may find that once we get to the point in the season where we actually play our own scheduled 7:00 Saturday night fixtures, that the crowds will sort themselves out, making the adjustment to something than our traditional Sunday afternoon/evening games. ate
One shudders to think how it all might have looked had we not been undefeated and top of the league. Certainly winning a game comfortably to main that maintain that undefeated run and top of the league status did nothing to keep people behind in the social club afterward. Everyone has their reasons for not sticking around of course, but it is a problem for the club if they don't.
|I know what's waiting for me at our next home game.|
One particular absent friend of ours was much better at food reviews than I am; his reviews had more heart for a start, and he had an off-the-cuff genius for these things that people like me can only dream of. But for the sake of documenting the experience in something approaching its totality, we plod on regardless. I had my first taste of the food in the social club on Saturday night, and all I'll say is don't pick the chicken schnitzel burger; go for the regular beef burger or the lamb sandwich equivalent, for which I have heard things ranging from "very good" to "it's fine". It's not that the schnitzel burger is inedible - it is very much edible, I ate it, and have suffered no deleterious side effects from doing so; but the "fun" beetroot coloured bun, above average salady bits, and the chipotle mayo can't completely disguise the fact that the chicken element of said chicken schnitzel burger is not up to scratch, what with it being a variation of every truck stop/school canteen/giant heart-shaped frozen crumbed schnitzel sitting in your local bakery's bain marie that, at best, you know and tolerate. I look forward to trying to some of the other items on the menu, and writing things about them.
I am hearing a pompom beanie with a new design is in the offing. Also, the Gunners t-shirt is on its way.
This is just a reminder that I owe the club the cost of the SM Hellas cap that I tried to buy after the pro-shop register was shutdown for the night, but which I was allowed to keep for the time being because people apparently trust me enough to follow through with payment eventually.