NPL Match Report: Northcote City 1-1 South Melbourne

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Goalscorer Jonathan Muñoz battles for the ball with Phil Petreski and Anthony Rizk closing in

By Brandon Galgano (@bgalgano94) 

A contentious penalty with ten minutes to play has seen Northcote pip back NPL frontrunners South Melbourne in an entertaining draw at John Cain Memorial Reserve this evening. 

Milos Lujic gave the visitors the lead with an incisive finish off a fantastic Tyson Holmes through ball with just over fifteen minutes to play before a late penalty from Jonathan Munoz saw the home side run away with a point. 

Playing on an abysmal playing surface under torrential rain for most of the match it seemed that the match would most likely be decided on who could make the most of their set pieces.

That was evident in the first half as neither side created any meaningful opportunities in open play. 

A Jamie Reed free kick was the closest the match came to a goal in the first 45 minutes as the surface clearly limited both sides ability to get on the ball through the midfield. 

The second half opened up though with South clearly adopting a more attacking strategy in the hopes of getting themselves into the lead. 

And that pressure very nearly saw the league leaders grab the opener as a goal mouth scramble saw two efforts blocked by Northcote defenders, before the ball fell to Tyson Holmes who volleyed from close range only for Northcote goalkeeper Chris Theodoridis to save at his near post. 

South continued to apply the pressure though and it was Nick Epifano who had the next chance to open the scoring as he was played through, but his left-footed shot from a tight angle sailed over the bar in the 62ndminute. 

Eleven minutes later, South Melbourne finally took the lead though through Milos Lujic. 

The former Northcote big man was fed through brilliantly by Tyson Holmes and with just the keeper to beat he slotted home past Theodoridis to give his side a deserved lead. 

Despite all of their good work going forward though, it was a series of critical errors at the back which brought the home side back into the contest. 

With a seemingly over hit long pass coming over the top for Northcote, South Melbourne keeper Jason Saldaris charged off his line to clear.

But instead of getting the ball out of the danger zone he sliced his clearance into the air behind him, and in his attempt to bicycle-kick the ball clear he tripped, missing the ball completely and thus leaving an open goal gaping behind him. 

Sensing an opportunity to equalise, South Australian import Liam Wooding pounced, dribbling the ball past a defender before being brought down right on the edge of the area just as he was about to shoot for goal. 

With debate as to whether or not the foul was committed in the box raging on around him the referee sought the guidance of his assistant who indicated that Bradley Norton had indeed fouled the Northcote midfielder inside the area. 

Jonathan Munoz then slotted home the resulting penalty against his former club to level the match at 1-1 with just over ten minutes to play. 

Northcote then very nearly stole the victory in the 89th minute as a Wade Dekker cross was cleared into his own post and out for a corner by a South Melbourne defender. 

Following that scare though South Melbourne could’ve and should’ve sealed the match once and for all in stoppage time with not one but two clear cut opportunities to win the game. 

The first fell to Tyson Holmes who found himself free inside the six-yard box but he could only drive the ball across the face of the goal, almost skimming the far post on its way past. 

The second chance though was in the final seconds of the match as Milos Lujic once again found himself clean though with just Theodoridis to beat. 

It was the Northcote keeper who won out this time though with a fantastic save to ensure the home side escaped with a point. 

Northcote coach Goran Lozanovski paid tribute to the quality of the opposition in a tightly fought contest before praising the spirit of his own side in a clash against one of the true Victorian heavyweights. 

“Look you have to pay due respect to South Melbourne, their on top for a reason and I think they’ve got a super squad,” Lozanovski said.

“Knowing where we’ve come from last year to this year, we knew it would be a challenge from the start but to the boys credit we have had a good last month or so and this is the sixth match in which we haven’t lost so were slowly growing and maturing which leads well into next season.’’ 

For South Melbourne coach Chris Taylor though, it was two points dropped as they look to extend the gap between themselves and second placed Oakleigh.

The former Dandenong Thunder treble-winning gaffer lamented a series of defensive errors which led to the equalling penalty. 

“It was just a series of errors and that’s what we spoke about at half time, not making errors, and as a result we kind of gifted them a goal so that’s the most disappointing aspect as I felt it was the type of game were one goal would maybe be enough but it just wasn’t to be,” Taylor said.

“I felt that we probably had enough chances to have won it but we didn’t take them and that’s the way it goes.”

Match Details: 

Northcote City 1 (Munoz 79’ pen.) drew with South Melbourne (Lujic 73’) at John Cain Memorial Reserve. 

Northcote City: 22. Chris Theodoridis, 6. Aaron Ward (Nasr Said 87’), 4. Kristian Konstantinidis, 7. Jonathan Munoz, 10. Marinos Gasparis (Jonathan Bounas 59’), 5. Phillip Petreski, 15. Wade Dekker, 11. Liam Wooding, 16. Greg Lombardo, 2. Adrian Chiappetta ©, 14. Michael Catalano (Anthony Rizk 70’) 

Unused Substitutes: 1. Luke Gavalas 

Yellow Cards: Lombardo 16’, Theodoridis 32’, Munoz 64’, Catalano 68’, Konstantinidis 88’ 

Red Cards: None 

South Melbourne FC: 1. Jason Saldaris, 25. Shaun Timmins, 4. Michael Eagar ©, 14. James Musa, 11. Brad Norton, 7. Nick Epifano (27. Leigh Minopoulous 84’), 10. Tyson Holmes, 9. Milos Lujic, 77. Stephen Hatzikostas, 12. Iqbal Jawadi, 17. Jamie Reed (8. Matthew Theodore 76’)  

Unused Substitutes: 21. Chris Maynard, 3. Andrew Mullett, 15. Kobbie Boahene 

Yellow Cards: Musa 37’, Hatzikostas 87’, 

Red Cards: None 

Image credit: Cindy Nitsos

NPL Preview: Northcote City v South Melbourne

Northcote City v South Melbourne
6th v 1st
3:00pm, Saturday July 26, 2014
John Cain Memorial Park
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #NCvSM #NPLVIC
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Last round:
Werribee City 1-3 Northcote City
South Melbourne 4-3 Melbourne Knights

Form:
Northcote City: DWWDW
South Melbourne: WWWWW

Last time they met:
Northcote City 5-0 South Melbourne, VPL Preliminary Final, 2013

The previous meeting between the two ended up being a blowout in favour of eventual champion Northcote City.

Things will be different this time around, with South Melbourne running away at the top of the league, while Northcote City is well out of championship contention sitting in 6th place.

Northcote is on good run at the moment, and is unbeaten in five games, but South Melbourne has won its past five to extend its lead on the ladder to nine points.

It will also be the first time NPL top-scorer Milos Lujic and Michael Eagar return to play at John Cain Memorial Park, and both will be looking to get one over their former club.

Northcote have been buoyed by the form of their young guns, led by Wade Dekker, and will be targeting a big scalp. We look forward to seeing a huge crowd at John Cain.

Northcote City Leading the NPL in Home Grown Talent

The FFV today released its much talked about Player Points System (PPS) and once again Northcote City is leading the way in promoting young players. With the lowest points score in the NPL of 175/275, the Club has shown it’s ability to recruit prudently and look to its young talent as the team has evolved from last year’s VPL Championship.

It is a testament to club’s continued faith in its youth system with the club also having the highest number of home grown players in the NPL with six.

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Jonathan Bounas and Aaron Ward: two of Northcote’s home grown players.

Wade Dekker is one of the young guns reaping the benefits of being developed at Northcote City and is currently in a rich vein of form having scored three goals in the past two encounters had this say regarding his current status as one of the club’s young guns. ”I feel I have really developed as a player under the tutelage of my Under 21s coach in Alex Gymnopoulos and now under Goran, they have had tremendous faith in me and have helped me not only develop as a player but as a person as well, having had a solid taste of senior football this year I am totally focused on continuing my improvement and development at the club”.

Jonathan Bounas is another who has developed into a mainstay of the senior side this year featuring in all but one of the club’s senior games. “It is fair to say that at the beginning of 2013 I was at the crossroads of my football career, receiving a phone call from Alex to come back and be part of ultimately a successful Under 21s championship side last year was amazing, for me personally it was topped off by getting called up to the Melbourne Heart youth team and now ultimately the senior squad at Northcote. I am just so rapt that Loza has had the faith in me and has played me regularly this year and I want to repay that faith to the club and be a part of what I think is going to be a very successful era at the club going forward.”

For his part, head coach Goran Lozanovski was excited and had one eye on the future in regards to the way the PPS is structured. “It’s a testament to the quality of the youngsters we have at the club, they have come through and showed me that not only they belong at this level but can actually do a job for the team as well, a lot of credit has to go to Alex Gymnopoulos and his assistant David Kalifatidis as well as the junior coaches at the club who have all played a great part in readying these lads for senior football. Even more pleasing is the fact that we have even more talent coming through not only the Under 20s but in all our junior teams so the future is looking very bright for the club going forward.”

Northcote’s six home grown players are Luke Gavalas, Jonathan Bounas (also a pathway player), Aaron Ward, Wade Dekker, Steve Sifinos and Josh Hiles.

For the full breakdown of the Player Points System across all NPL and NPL1 clubs, visit https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4LdjAHYjFLzZHpaUV9vVFZrZTg/edit