After not scoring for two weeks, and after getting just one point from our opening three games, we were promised at least the consideration of tactical and personnel changes. The personnel changes amounted to Matthew Foschini returning to the squad after missing last week's loss against Avondale due to an interstate wedding, with Nick Epifano making away after being suspended for five games for spitting at a Bentleigh player during the Community Shield game. Meanwhile the tactical changes seemed to deviate from our long term plan of lobbing it to Lujic, changing it yesterday to just lobbing it anywhere.
While not nearly as dire as last week, the first half wasn't much to write home about for both teams. We occasionally looked better than we had at any moment since the first half of round 1, but we really only created something of note after a late half wrestling bout between Milos Lujic and Heidelberg goalkeeper Chris Theodoris-Petropoulos. Having said that, Heidelberg looked the likelier to score in a game that was threatening to veer out of control because of the obvious spite between the two teams, and the officials refusing to clamp down on the nonsense early enough. If there was some hope based on the way that we ran out the first half that we could get a result here, it was snuffed out very quickly when a much improved Heidelberg came out for the second half, and we could at best offer only meek resistance.
Nikola Roganovic was clearly our best - he stopped the score ballooning out to something where Heidelberg's second half superiority in particular would have been reflected on the scoreboard. Without due cover when going forward, and without the relationship forged with Epifano, Brad Norton is neither as effective as he should be, nor as we know he can be. The central pairing of Luke Adams and Carl Piergianni did well in the air, but were burnt repeatedly on the ground by Kenny Athiu. Piergianni especially is a problematic case - he has clear talent, being a strong aerial presence at both ends of the ground, but his lack of pace has been a concern from the start.
Tim Mala's attacking capabilities, never stellar, have become reduced to taking throw ins in the attacking half. Matthew Millar needs to get over his alleged revilement of playing as a full-back, because as a midfielder he has been well below the standard expected, even last year. The signing of Liam McCormick has been bothering me from the beginning - by any way of looking at it, it was a strange signing. He did not create any impression during the pre-season, and so far during the season proper, apart from obviously contributing a certain amount of hardness, has added little quality wise.
Luke Pavlou and Matthew Foschini are there to work the midfield grind, but when the 'creative' players go missing, they have failed to add their own attacking capability. To that end, I have been very disappointed by Marcus Schroen so far in 2017 - considering how he finished off 2016, and the way he played during the pre-season, he has been depressingly ineffective. Milos Lujic's body language is as petulant as ever, but there's little else he can do - there is so little support for him from the midfield, and the delivery to him has been so poor, and the marking so tight, that Plan A is more than just on the ropes.
Leigh Minopoulos, so often the man counted upon by South supporters and perhaps the coaches to turn a game, especially off the bench, looked as lost as anyone when he came on. He had little effect on the game - though he was in good company on that front - but often wandered around the right hand side seemingly unsure of where he was meant to be. Jesse Daley came on even later than he did last week, and put in a good corner. There's a few supporters hoping, perhaps even demanding, that he be a key part of the revival, believing that his quality corner taking (from an admittedly minuscule sample size), and their desire for a Number 10, can be answered by Daley.
I'm not averse to that theory, if the thinking behind it is that Daley can perform the role that Matthew Theodore used to provide. Meanwhile, Andy Kecojevic, who could conceivably also play a similar role, continues to rot on the bench. Whatever one's thoughts are on whether Andy is a good prospect or not, surely it's time to either play him or let him go.
If all this sounds too negative, then the flip-side to that is that most of this team is still made up of players that (somehow) got us up to third place last year (look it up, it happened), and a grand final win. Some have pointed the finger at a good run at the end of 2016 saving face for all concerned, but even at our lowest ebb last year we never looked this bad for this many weeks in a row. I mean three scoreless league games in a row, which hasn't happened since...
Rounds 9-11, 2011
A quick scan suggests until this scoring drought, this was the last time South went three leagues games without scoring. During that run we had a 5-0 loss at Hume where everything went wrong, a depleted squad securing a fortunate 0-0 draw against Thunder, and the same depleted squad copping a 5-0 hammering against Northcote. I'm obviously disregarding the 14-0 romp against Yarraville in the Cup, which fell in amid that dismal league run.
Let's keep this sophisticated
I can't and don't condone everything our supporters say, but they are entitled to be frustrated and angry with how the team is playing at the moment. If some of our players are upset by this fact, rather than the specific content of a hostile comment - and I don't recall anything particularly stupid/offensive uttered last night - then they're at the wrong club.
Having said that, it's hardly an edifying experience to see players and supporters hurling abuse at each other. At least yesterday this was done at the comical distance of about 100 metres between the main parties. It will be much worse if the same happens at next week's venue.
A bottom of the table battle against St Albans at Churchill Reserve. They're not doing well, but at least they've managed to score more recently than we have.
|Robert Stack was the stuff of 90s kid nightmares. Then you |
saw him do a cameo on BASEketball and everything was cool.
Does anyone know why the kickoff was delayed by 15 minutes? There was no massive line outside waiting to get in - actually the crowd was kind of rubbish. And not that I'm blaming the kickoff delay for us losing, because we managed that well enough on our own thank you very much, but not telling the relevant South people that there had been a delay until very late in the piece is pretty dodgy.
People's Champ suspended for five games
As noted above, Nick Epifano has been suspended for five games after being found guilty of spitting by the tribunal during the week. It is my understanding that the club is planning an appeal.
'Let's practice set pieces'. Also assorted nonsense directed at the fourth official who couldn't decide whether he wanted to put a jacket on or not.
To the Women's NPL team for picking up their first win of the season, a 2-0 result against Heidelberg. I saw the second half of this contest, and while I can't say it was a terribly good game - the team played much better the week before, from what I gather - they did well to grind out the win in stupidly hot conditions. Melina Ayres picked up both goals, though the serial killer stare she has in the her 'animated goal video' is scary as fuck.
Well done also to the male 20 side, who have a perfect four from four record this year. Some reasonably/relatively talented players in this group, worth watching.
A-League expansion criteria delayed
When I said somewhere (fucked if I can find it now) that the expansion criteria would be delayed beyond February - an opinion I based around this December 2016 article, which had David Gallop claiming 'before July' - some South people said 'no way'.
Well, not only did FFA drop hints here and here that the criteria would be delayed - then came the kicker that by FFA's own admission that franchise model as it exists is stuffed, and that expansion even by two teams would financially cripple FFA and its A-League franchises.
So here we are. While expansion won't happen before 2018/19, which we knew anyway, have fun waiting for the criteria to come out, eventually, and for Red Bull Ballarat to be given a licence anyway.
Around the grounds
Elvis Kamsoba will destroy us, even if he does nothing else
The Melbourne Knights team that beat Bentleigh the other week must have still been waiting for a flight from Moorabbin airport, because the Knights side that turned up on Friday night for their game against Kingston City was pretty ordinary. Kingston aren't great, but they surprised me by not relying solely on counterattacks. The first half was kinda interesting, and then not. Kingston won a stone-cold, clear as day penalty early in the second half, which they converted, and survived some terrible finishing on their part, as well as a very dodgy penalty call against them - one time 'blink of an eye' South recruit Jason Hicks smashing the penalty against the post and across the face of goal. Former briefly South man Slaven Vranesevic sealed the points for the visitors with a beautiful free kick from range, which gladdened the heart of this spectator, until he remembered that a former South man had just scored a beautiful free kick from range, and South hasn't had someone who could do that with any consistency since 2011 in the form of Daniel Vasilevski - as I was reminded by still bitter Knights after the game. 2011 was such a wild year.
If this team was built with the A-League in mind, then they must have been preparing it for a competition with no relegation.