Sunday, 7 May 2017

Composure - Bentleigh Greens 0 South Melbourne 0

First things first. The journey up to the ground did not take as long as it usually does, because we (me, Gains and surprise guest Chris Egan, whom I bumped into at Flinders Street while I was walking through a daze probably caused by Chokito deprivation) managed to catch an express to Cheltenham, and this familiar older South supporting gentleman (whose name I always forget) who was also on the same train shouted us a cab lift to the ground - which was half price because of some sort of magic card that he had. I didn't dare ask any further questions.

Tom Kalas = Wat Tyler. There, that's my analysis of all that business.
Of course, that only partially offset the journey home, which saw a wait of 30 minutes or so for a train to Flinders Street (made only slightly more bearable by a not cold enough Crunch bar), and then for me another 30 minute wait for a train out to Sunshine. But I should be cut some slack - at least I didn't spend the night complaining about wet socks caused by dewy grass, or the giant spider that was apparently somewhere in the Kingston Heath covered seating area.

And considering that we actually managed to earn a point from this fixture for the first time since who can be bothered researching when, it was a case of having to be appreciative of not going home totally miserable from a Kingston Heath game for once. Apart from all of that, I'm not sure what I can tell you about this game with any sort of authority, because for 'operational reasons' which we can't go into because they relate to 'on water' matters, South of the Border was stationed behind the goal ends we were attacking in each half, and thus the view of many of the more interesting things that happened during the game were not exactly clear.

Also, because of our insistence of wearing blue against teams wearing green, even at night - though do have some sympathy in the event that team manager Frank Piccione wanted to avoid a repeat of the green paint fiasco of 2015 - things got decidedly indistinct, becoming a blue-green deep ocean blur.  But despite all of this, the scoreline and the constricted play, the game was interesting on both an emotional and cerebral level.

Leigh Minopoulos was out - reportedly injured - and thus Luke Pavlou was brought into the starting line up, with Matthew Millar being pushed onto the right. By this stage of the season, I think quite a few of us have got used to it being a case of knowing Chris Taylor's preferred starting eleven, with the key variable being whether Minopoulos or Jesse Daley would get the start playing on the right wing.

That set us up for an even more defensive effort than usual, but credit to us on two fronts - for the most part the defense seemed to do very well, and there were times when we did have our fair share of the ball and control of the game swapped between the two sides throughout the night. The decision to use Pavlou was perhaps seen as an error in judgment, as at half time Daley was brought on in his place, with Millar going back into the middle. That seemed to make things work a bit better for us going forward, though Daley - perhaps under instruction - seemed to be sitting much deeper than an attack minded winger should.

Games between these two sides have become notorious for red cards going back several years now. Both teams have been on the receiving end, but in more recent times it has been Bentleigh who have been the instigator, believing that they can get under the skins of some of our players, putting them off their game. To be perfectly blunt about it, despite its underhanded nature, it's been a tactic which has worked for the Greens - especially when targeting combustible players like Iqi Jawadi and Nick Epifano.

And so they tried it again on several occasions on Friday. The worst of these attempts was when their keeper decided to strike Milos Lujic from behind for who knows what reason, causing an all in scuffle which ended up with players rolling around in the net. The officials conferred, and dished out a couple of yellow cards to Bentleigh players, and play resumed. Later on, during the second half, another incident kicked off, with the Greens players seemingly going after the Peoples' Champ; this time a Greens player got sent off.

That was with 15 minutes to go, and of course the fear kicked in that now that we were up a man, we'd find a way to botch the game. I can't say that anyone watching the what happened next would be too confident, because the home side managed to get more the ball, but at the same time I can't say that they looked any more threatening than they did for the rest of the game. And while Matt Thurtell's absence didn't help the home side's cause, it's not like they didn't have a plethora of other attacking options.

For our part, the final pass and transition into the attacking third was decidedly awkward all night. I know I was a fan, but the inability to properly replace Mathew Theodore - and that includes Theodore himself when he was with us at best on a casual employee/temp worker basis - has caused us all sorts of issues. No one's got an issue with the effort being put in by the team, but it's that bit of class that a player like had provided that has gone missing. It's particularly had an impact on Milos Lujic, as despite his own struggles with form and confidence, some of the delivery to him - and especially the fact that so much of it now is aerial balls where he's double marked, instead of through balls for one on ones - has been utter crap.

All in all, we created two good chances, one which their keeper did well to save - though aimed higher it would have caused him more problems - and a through pass which Lujic stumbled over. Seeing as how we struggled to execute passes in open play in the final third, it was exceptionally disappointing how poor our delivery from set pieces was - from a variety of suspects. So many corners and free kicks, and yet so often the ball never rose above ankle height.

Being the wide-eyed optimist that I am, I am going to go with it being one point gained rather than two points lost. This is not only because we have a terrible record at that ground and against this team, but because our sputtering increase momentum has not been stopped. Disappointing as it was not to create more and better chances, and to see the persistence of our attacking structural problems, the team by and large kept its composure

Boring and irrelevant facts
This was our first 0-0 league match since Pascoe Vale away in 2015. Hellenic Cup fixtures aside, this was the first time we've kept a clean sheet against Bentleigh since 2010.

Just on the refereeing
Look, on the big issues that arise in a game - bad tackles, spiteful play etc - I get it ghat there's a lot of pressure on refs and their assistants, with a lot wrong ideas about how much power the latter in particular actually have. But part of Bentleigh's approach to this game was to perform persistent fouling, and why that wasn't punished I don't know. I'm just glad that, for the most part, our players kept their composure.

Next game
Kingston City away at the Grange at some point during the next century. OK, maybe a little earlier than that, but still on a Monday night and therefore stupid.

In the meantime, our NPL women are playing against Heidelberg on Saturday afternoon, at Lakeside, Definitely worth a look I reckon.

FFA Cup news
We have been drawn as the home team against NPL2 contender Dandenong City. Dandenong knocked out an admittedly vulnerable Melbourne Knights 3-2 to reach this stage, and have players the calibre of Mate Dugandzic, David Stirton, Steven Topalovic, Nick Kalmar, Shaun Kelly and - maybe - Ljubo Milicevic. Also, there's a few ex-South players in that list. Anyway, writing off these players as mere journeymen doesn't do them justice; many of the aforementioned players are still more than capable of playing in NPL1, and are part of City's ambitions to get promoted and become a mainstay of the division that we're in.

Having said that, out of the seven possible match ups available, only Moreland City and probably Northcote could have been better for us, and the fact that we'll be the home team is pleasing.

Me? Easily distracted?
From time to time I have had requests from people to burn copies for them of the fan made season review DVDs spanning 2005-2007. Rather than burn disc after disc, I thought I would perform the painstaking task of ripping the footage off those discs, and uploading them to YouTube instead. I'm starting with an ad hoc approach to the 2007 season - which as you may recall, mostly sucked, but had some OK moments - then working my way backwards. My internet speeds at home are OK as long as I don't have to share my bandwidth with anyone else, which is often, so it these won't be released overnight. I may have to do some at uni.

You can find them on my personal YouTube account, not the account some of you may have subscribed to in the past which actually belonged to one of my brothers, and which became a pain the arse to keep using once Google started merging all your different service accounts into one. More match programmes coming up during the week.

Victorian state budget news
The State Sport Centre Trust Trust - the body which, among other things, manages Lakeside Stadium - has been allocated $9.6 million in this year's state budget.
$9.6 million for the State Sport Centres Trust  to help the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, State Netball and Hockey Centre, and Lakeside Stadium provide improved services to encourage more people to get active and healthy
I have no idea how that money will be allocated across the different venues. The hock if they people probably need it most, even if they play such a silly game.

Around the grounds
I complain, but nobody listens
I WOULD LOVE TO TALK ABOUT THE ENTERTAINING FFA CUP ENCOUNTER BETWEEN AVONDALE AND GREEN GULLY WHICH I SAW AT SOMERS STREET DURING THE WEEK. I WOULD LOVE TO REGALE YOU OF ITS EBBS AND FLOWS, ITS HIGHS AND LOWS, ITS TRIUMPHS AND TRAGEDIES. UNFORTUNATELY, THE AVONDALE GIMP IN CONTROL OF THE KNIGHTS STADIUM GRANDSTAND PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM PLAYED MUSIC THAT WAS FAR TOO LOUD FOR ANYONE TO BE ABLE TO ENJOY. THIS HAS BEEN A PROBLEM WHICH HAS BEEN GOING ON EVER SINCE THEY STARTED PLAYING GAMES THERE, BUT MY MANY COMPLAINTS HAVE COME TO NOTHING. IT'S SO LOUD I CAN'T EVEN CLAIM TO BE PRIMARILY ANNOYED ABOUT THE PA GIMP'S TASTE IN MUSIC, WHICH IS ALSO BAD. I thought Green Gully's winning goal was better than it actually was, because it turned out to have deflected off an Avondale defender.

Final thought
While there was a decent if unspectacular crowd at our game, I predict that by the year 2030 that the only people that will be at NPL games in Victoria will be relatives of the players, university students roped into slavery internships, and people providing Dodgy Asian Betting commentaries.

6 comments:

  1. Sadly, this game, more than any other I have seen in the 5 years I have been back supporting South Melbourne, revealed the low standards that the NPL is at times.

    How hard is it to take a corner or free kick? Did Bentleigh have sort sort of magnet in the ground? Can someone please provide a reason for such ineptitude in this regard.

    If you were to bring along a neutral fan from the higher echelons of the soccer world (A League and Eurosnobs), they would likely never come again.

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  2. I suspect it reflects the lower quality of Australian players full stop. Add to this the sheer number of NPL clubs in Australia - 140 odd...thats a lot of talent spread out amongst the clubs...i.e. the thin numbers we have are even thinner.

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    Replies
    1. Like I have been saying even prior to 2012 ... 'Bring on a second division'.

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  3. Kimon Trimboli10 May 2017 at 11:34

    Hey Savvas, Im not sure the poor delivery of set pieces/corners that we dish up week in week out (Jessie Daley being a small glimmer of hope in the otherwise abysmal darkness)is a true reflection of the poor quality of the NPL in general as you state. It really does seem to be a "Hellas curse" type scenario as most other teams seem to lob it in to the mixer so to speak.

    Speaking of the NPL, I have just returned to Melbourne after spending a few days in Hobart for work. I was really surprised to be bombarded with ads on FM radio (MMM no less) about the midweek NPL clash (Hobart Olympia vrs Glenorchy ... I think???) "C'mon down and support your local team" "NPL Tas is great for the kids" etc etc.. there really was little mention of the A League grand final and more local Aussie rules talk than actual AFL based reporting... I think that sort of exposure up here would certainly help drive more people to the grounds and if Tom Kalas' little 2nd division project make a little more noise and eventually becomes a reality then perhaps a little bit of hope that in 2030 I wont be sitting in an empty stand with the Dodgy Asian betting guys alone?!?!?!?!

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    Replies
    1. While Tasmanians love their AFL (probably into the Victorian clubs more than most Victorians), one has to remember to treat Hobart as if it is a large country town, which is essentially what it is.

      Thus an appeal to localism will always be at the forefront of their media. Having said that, the soccer people have done well to promoted their game in the print and television news media.

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  4. Post needs more Simpsons references.

    Hellas FC

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While I like people commenting on the blog, it would be useful if different posters could at least leave some sort of nickname to make it easier to sort through all the different 'anonymous' posters. If your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet. Lastly, just because I approve a comment for publication does not mean that I endorse its content.