Almanac Soccer: NPL Round 13 Recap – Pandemonium on Friday the 13th

 

Memoir of The Geezer

 

 

 

 

 

“Pyro. Looks mint and that. But it’s a nuisance, init? Bad for us asthmatics. The smoke. Just wanna enjoy the game. Chuck a few fist pumps about. Limbs. Give the home fans a bit of stick. Don’t wanna be gagging for a toot on the owd inhaler after every goal. Blowing. Gasping for clean air – underrated is the stuff. They’re red hot too. Mind ya new Stoney piece. One wrong swoosh and it’s game over. 400 quid, down the drain. Sound. Stewards sticking oven gloves on to dispose of ‘em.
Says it all. Taking no chances them lot. Safety first. Not daft.”  – @trekuartista95

 

Photos by @ftbliseverywhere

 

Welloffside’s Photo of the Week

 

 

1994 FA Cup Final Chelsea v Manchester United.
United players celebrating their fourth goal at Wembley.
Photo by Mark Leech

 

 

Pandemonium on Friday the 13th

 

 

Right then. Last time I signed off was the lead up to the fixture between South and Port Melbourne at Lakeside stadium. Far from what I had thought ought to be a really tough match, we witnessed a quickfire three goals in the first half and South held on to a 3-0 win. The spirit of Stokalona lived on from that game with the infamous long throws into the box; encapsulating the moment Harrison Sawyer nodded one home. Maybe not too many think much of it, but I personally find it funny to some degree as it kind of makes corner set pieces slightly redundant. Almost like taking the piss.

 

 

You are a lot more accurate in ball placement from throw ins if you have the strength, but you often watch those balls float into the box, a lot slower than a cross from a corner. You’d think defenders would have it covered. Nope. A striker gets the end of it and the whole defensive department look like numpties.

 

 

Tony Pulis may be an absolute noddy to some, but his revolutionary tactic of making Rory Delap more famous than he deserves to be, is pure genius. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but whenever Stoke City win a throw in near the corner, you see fans celebrate it more than winning a corner set piece to work with.

 

 

Round 12 was Dandenong City away. A game where South were hot favourites to take the three points as City are flirting with relegation. But whatever it was that night: the mentality of the squad, the deterrent of torrential rain…City were in full control for the majority of the match and came within centimetres of scoring multiple times. South depended on counter-offensive plays the whole time, and it took one lucky break on a run down the wing by Max Mikkola to make a low cross into the box for Jai Ingham to tap it in, but as a defender tried to get in between and block the chance, he knocked into his own net.

 

 

 

Dancing in the rain [Source: Author]

 

The glaring problem throughout this game was City found it was too easy to create chances that are a striker’s wet-weather dream. I’ve got the impression that there were at least eight of those. It was the typical play running down to the edge of the box and drive it low across the penalty area for someone to tap it in. Six times no one made a touch and the ball rolled to the other side of the pitch. On two occasions, a City player blazed over the bar or hit it. South Melbourne can count their lucky stars for escaping that game with a win.

 

 

Round 13 was up against old mates Avondale FC at Lakeside Stadium. As some recall earlier, they convincingly beat South in the Australian Cup fixture and South have not been able to defeat them in the last eight occasions, or so I have been told. As of recently there had been heated verbal exchanges and physical confrontations between players and coaches, to the point that it has grown into a fresh new rivalry as both have been battling for the premiership over the past few seasons.

 

 

I was not optimistic for South to win given the display on show against Dandenong City with their glaring problem of letting in those low crosses that always beg for a striker to smash home from close range. I am a very superstitious person as well, so having this game on Friday the 13th, on the 13th round of the season, I was expecting a shitfest before my eyes.

 

 

Sure enough, South conceded a soft penalty few minutes in. Then, a second and third goal were let in by the exact circumstance that I had feared the most. I just felt like packing up my gear then because it just looked like an all-Avondale affair.

 

 

Funny enough, Avondale’s third goal was registered on the 13th minute mark. What does that tell me? Maybe my superstitions say that Avondale jinxed it. Why? I think everyone knows by now across social media that South have made one of the greatest comebacks in the league’s competition and Avondale choked tremendously.

 

 

South’s manager Esteban knew what needed to be done after their halftime. No point in yelling and belittling the players against such a tough opposition. But there was a belief that as strong as Avondale were, they do have a fragile mindset. Case in point when re-analysing the cup tie, Avondale were 3-0 up, but when South pulled one back, the whole momentum shifted and Avondale were on the back foot the entire second half. South only lost due to having the majority of key players out of the equation and experience triumphed over South’s second-string team.

 

 

Sure enough, a few minutes into the second half, Mikkola made a stunning strike by chesting the ball and volleying it into the top corner. Shortly after Sawyer attempted a cross, deflected off a defender and made the keeper scramble to make an awkward parry only for Alun Webb to pounce and add a second.

 

 

Avondale were bewildered and sure enough as I was close by, could see arguments and aggressive exchanges grow into their team throughout the game. Toxicity was in the air.

 

 

Calamity ensued as Sawyer was in on goal from a looping through ball and chased after it. The keeper rushed out and misjudged the trajectory of the ball and collided into Sawyer. Penalty given.

 

 

Hushed tones and buttholes clenched as everyone held onto their breath in disbelief that a comeback could actually be on the cards.

 

 

Bang, straight down the middle. Keeper went the wrong way. South have tied the game 3-3 with half an hour to go. Absolutes scenes in the stands.

 

 

Ten minutes later, South Melbourne earn a free kick from about 30 yards out. It was always likely for South to try a set piece as Mikkola was behind the ball instead of Schroen, who normally fancies going for goal in free kicks.

 

 

Mikkola took a couple of steps but he belted the ball low with his left boot, around the wall and into the bottom right corner.

 

 

Limbs.

 

 

Fans rushed to the fence.

 

 

Pandemonium.

 

 

What a comeback! [Source: Author]

 

South have done the unthinkable. They managed to hold off any Avondale retaliation as they fought for an equalizer. Heads were lost in the moment as Avondale were given a red card by their frustrations and bottled it completely.

 

 

Any Celtic fan that took advantage of South’s marketing campaign for free entry if they wore their Celtic top in celebration of Ange Postecoglou’s achievements definitely got more what they had bargained for in such a rare and breathtaking game to witness. As you would imagine, they definitely showed the South loyalists how a proper celebration is done with a piss up in their member’s bar with a DJ blasting Celtic tunes into the night.

 

 

On a small note, I am absolutely chuffed by the unexpected shout out by Optus Sport to feature my photos with credit as they report on this night.

 

 

 

It was a night to remember, and my superstitions did not get a hold of me with all this hoo-doo of the unlucky number and the haunting day as people make it out to be.

 

 

Later that night, I frantically edited all the photos to get people onto them in the morning to enjoy. I checked my emails at the same time only to read by my supervisor that my copywriting work on a brief was not up to their standard and needed to be re-worked. Of course, something had to sour my night on Friday the 13th.

 

 

For fuck’s sake…

 

 

To view Luke’s photography on the night, click HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

To return to the www.footyalmanac.com.au  home page click HERE

 

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

 

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