Owing to my absence last weekend due to attending a wedding in Wollongong, this week's match report was written by Gains - thanks mate! I would have had it up sooner, but... well, it's a long story, and I'll save it for next time.
I honestly still cannot believe we are top of the league at this point in the season. Before the season I believed we would miss the finals based on what I saw last season, short as it was. I'm happy to be proven wrong but I was still cautiously pessimistic heading to this game due to my own personality and the congested fixtures.
The game being on Orthodox Easter weekend saw fewer people attending. with row H usually the spot for Clarendon Corner completely empty until just before despite it being a warm and clear Saturday.
As we are going to be playing three games in less than a week the squad rotation, though a bit excessive throughout Esteban Quintas' coaching, was necessary this time. The main question of whether Harrison Sawyer would be fit for the whole three games were answered by the introduction of Josh Barresi who debuted seemingly behind Henry Hore in the starting . There were seven changes in total from the Dandenong City game - notably captain Brad Norton left out, with Perry Lambropoulos replacing him at left back, and Marcus Schroen wearing the captain's armband.
With these changes in mind, the initial expectation was to not lose considering Hume City had comfortably won their cup fixture, and were free to field a strong . This was not the case. as we started the half strong and took the lead before ten minutes. A good on the left side of the attack saw Gerrie finding Lambropoulos in the box, who passed the ball to Barresi, scoring on debut with a sliding finish. Barresi himself proved to be a worthwhile alternative attacking option by being able to switch positions between himself and Hore, compared to Sawyer being a clear target man. In South was in control for most of the first half, with passes and long balls down the flanks being very hard to handle by the Hume defenders and South being more solid in the midfield; Luke Pavlou in particular showed improvement from his previous games. There were some defensive lapses near the end of the first half, one being a clearance by Jake Marshall after James Burgess was lobbed by the Hume attacker but the lead stayed at half time.
Hume started stronger in the second half and created some dangerous chances which were then neutralised by several South substitutions to bolster the and being mindful of the next fixtures. Daniel Clark came on for Zac Bates at the beginning of the second half to support Luke Adams on the right side, and Lirim Elmazi for Schroen to strengthen the defensive midfield. During this time and after Sawyer was introduced to replace Barresi, South had at least four chances to seal the game with the notable one being Lambropoulos through on goal shooting straight at Michael Weier. With ten minutes left South fans were almost expecting the team to be punished for all those missed chances, but Hume's Andy Brennan and substitute Theo also failed to convert their chances. Just before stoppage time Sawyer received a long ball, and after controlling it hit a powerful low shot which crept underneath Weier and past the goal line despite the keeper's desperate attempt to retrieve the ball before it crossed the line, and South seemed to have the points secured.
That unfortunately did not happen, as Burgess was late off his line trying to punch a long ball and Bingham headed the ball over him to pull a goal back for a nervous finish. South however held off for the 2-1 win and four points clear on the top of the table before Heidelberg's win later in the day.
All in all, I am happy to continually be proven wrong and with the squad looking more cohesive, hopefully this will lead to a strong end to the first half of the season.
matches against Melbourne Knights, first tonight being the Dockerty Cup/FFA Cup qualifier match at Lakeside (note: South members still have to pay the $10 entry fee) and then on Friday night the away league fixture at Knights Stadium. Others may disagree but I personally consider Melbourne Knights fixtures as the one I look forward to the most every season, as a person who has never been to a single NSL match and started attending VPL matches in 2009. Too bad the Knights cup match wasn't a Dockerty Cup final but sadly it's a more important fixture.
Ideals and Reality in a Competition Name
I share Paul's dislike of the name change from Dockerty Cup to FFA Cup Qualifier, the former being relegated to the and final of the competition. It devalues a cup competition with a very long history and prestige to merely three matches. this seems to be a view shared by a minority as I do remember the numerous first and second round forfeits when it was called the Dockerty Cup to the point of Oakleigh Cannons not realising the competition serves as a qualifier for the FFA Cup basically played a weakened team and lost the match/qualifier when Miron Bleiberg was coaching the team.
It seems amazing that the name change magically has teams willing to participate, making it a slim chance for a potential chance rather than an early season distraction. I find it a questionable way of thinking though since if these teams forfeited their fixtures during the it was called Dockerty Cup, what would make them think they can compete against teams at a higher competition level with the same eye on the financial incentives? that is how the world works and as much as I want the Dockerty Cup name, the FFA Cup qualifier name will remain.
I still dislike the concept of the FFA Cup itself without the presence of promotion/relegation but it's a discussion for another topic and time. As much as I hated it, I want South to win in every competition and though it's pretty much impossible, the FFA Cup is also a competition that we can participate in.