Sunday, 4 April 2021

Zero Sugar - Werribee City 0 South Melbourne 6

Freddie Sey bundles in his first goal for South,
 putting South up 2-0. Photo: Luke Radziminksi.
This was the pre-season game you have when you're not having a pre-season game. It was at a ground that most South fans would never have heard of. You didn't have to pay to get in. It was against a lower league opponent. It was hot, with frequent drinks breaks. And we fielded what was a half-strength team, and still got the job done.

There's really not much more to say than that. What could have been a banana skin game turned out to be anything but. Werribee's senior squad seems to be very young, and while we fielded a couple of kids of our own, there was more than enough experience on the field for us to overcome whatever inexperience our youth team players would have carried into the game.

Backup goalkeeper James Burgess made his debut for South, with Pierce Clark being on the bench. Freddie Sey got his first start as a South player and his first goal. South junior Sasha Murphy made his debut, while fellow junior Yianni Panakos came off the bench and scored a penalty. Marcus Schroen got his first start of the season, and played just over a half. Brad Norton came back into the starting lineup. Gerrie Sylaidos was left out of the squad entirely, as was Ben Djiba, while Harry Sawyer and Henry Hore started on the bench; Hore would come on in the second half and score. Jake Marshall came in for Marco Jankovic, and Daniel Clark also came back into the starting eleven.

The most impressive player on the day was Zac Bates, who scored a couple of goals and set up at least one more. Overall, it was not the kind of lineup you're likely to see again this year. Within five minutes it got on to the front foot with a Norton goal, and without exerting itself too much, then went on to score goals at regular enough intervals to be emphatic without showing off - except for Bates' second goal, which was a bit showing off. 

What could have been a tricky week ends up with three wins, and some reasonably good rotation of the senior squad. Not one of the three opponents we faced over that eight day stretch offered up the kind of challenge that I expected. Magic, despite their spending and player pedigree, and despite taking the lead, were overwhelmed by a team that had only scored three goals in the opening four weeks. Thunder tried hard, and defended well enough, but were mostly kept in the game for as long as they were by some profligate finishing. And Werribee, despite the advantages of a few days extra rest, were out of the hunt within twenty minutes.

All of which means there'll still be doubters over how good this team actually is; and fair enough, too, because it's still early on in the season and there's much to learn. That, and we've also served up some real slop in the first six weeks of the year despite the good results. But as usual, it's worth remembering that things could have turned out much worse. Heidelberg apparently rested a bunch of first teamers, and got done by Nunawading. The sputtering Altona Magic are out, after losing to Ballarat City. But the shock of the round was Altona North coming from behind to beat St Albans - no idea what kind of lineup Dinamo fielded, but that's still a terrific result for a state 3 club.

Looking ahead to the next round of the cup and possible opponents, the draw has opened up more than I thought it would have. As well as the aforementioned NPL trio, Dandy Thunder are also out, having lost to Green Gully. At the time of print, Bentleigh, Dandy City, and Port Melbourne had all yet to play their lower league opponents.

All of which means we'll probably get drawn against Knights again.

Next game

Back to league action, away at Green Gully on Friday night.

Final thought

Some weird cats out there yesterday watching the game from the non-shaded parts of Grange Reserve. Hope they had their sunscreen on.


  1. Esteban is now unbeaten in 11 matches!!!

    As each win rolls in the negative voices get softer and softer.


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