South Melbourne have been eliminated from the 2015 NPL finals series after suffering a 2-1 home defeat to Tasmanian outfit Olympia Warriors on Saturday afternoon.
Olympia took the lead after just three minutes through Lachlan Nichols before doubling their advantage on the half-hour mark via a Shpetim Mala own goal.
The away side were reduced to ten men less than ten minutes into the second-half but managed to hold on for the result despite a Milos Lujic strike and an enormous amount of late pressure from South.
The loss comes just six days after South Melbourne were defeated at the same venue by Bentleigh Greens in the 2015 NPL Victoria Grand Final.
South Melbourne had to chase the game from the outset, with a free-kick from the left finished via a fantastic diving header from Nichols.
The early goal came as a shock to South Melbourne but first David Stirton and then Lujic had chances to bring South level just minutes after going behind.
Gavin Hoy was looking dangerous for Olympia and the no.10 made a fool of the South defence, weaving his way past three players before his cut-back took a deflection and found the back of the net.
Just five minutes later defender Chris Irwin found himself forward and his shot from the edge of the area hit the post before being cleared away.
Leigh Minopoulos had a shot blocked shortly afterwards before the referee blew for what was a very frustrating half for South Melbourne.
However, Olympia midfielder Shae Hickey received a second yellow card nine minutes into the restart and that gave South Melbourne the spark they needed to get themselves back into the contest.
The goal came just seven minutes later, with none other than Lujic getting his head on a cross to bring South back into the game. From then on it was all South.
Minopoulos should have equalised four minutes later but after getting past the defence and creating some space his shot was brilliantly blocked by Sean Lewis.
Nicholas Epifano hit the crossbar after some great work in the box before Lujic had a shot saved from Minopoulos’ cross.
Lujic had another chance saved, this time from a header, before half-time substitute Dane Milovanovic had a shot cleared off the line in added time.
South did all they could but the underdogs from Tasmania stood tall and came out shock 2-1 winners.
South Melbourne FC 1 (Lujic 61’)
Olympia FC 2 (Nichols 3’, Mala 30’ (og))
Saturday 19 September 2015
Lakeside Stadium, Albert Park VIC
Referee: Lucien Laverdure
South Melbourne FC starting line-up: 22.Fraser MACLAREN (gk), 2.Tim MALA (13.Dane MILOVANOVIC 46’), 3.Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS, 5.Luke ADAMS, 7.Nicholas EPIFANO, 8.Mathew THEODORE, 9.Milos LUJIC, 10.David STIRTON (23.Andy KECOJEVIC 46’), 11.Bradley NORTON (c), 14.Chris IRWIN (21.Jake BARKER-DAISH 82’), 27.Leigh MINOPOULOS, 77.Stephen HATZIKOSTAS
Substitutes not used: 6.Thomas LAKIC, 28.Rory BRIAN (gk)
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Olympia FC starting line-up: 1.Sean LEWIS (gk), 3.Harry WOOLLEY (14.Jonathan GRIFFITHS 76’), 4.Shae HICKEY, 5.Luke EYLES, 6.Nicholas MEARNS, 7.Warren WADAWU (13.Christian DI MARTINO 57’), 9.Emmanuel TSAKIRIS, 10.Gavin HOY, 11.Nicholas MEREDITH (19.Stuart PAGE 90’), 15.Lachlan NICHOLS, 16.Jake VANDERMAY (c)
Substitutes not used: 18.Jack CALLAN, 21.Spiros PARADISIS (gk)
Yellow cards: Hickey 22’/54’, Meredith 51’, Hoy 69’
Red cards: Hickey 54’