South Melbourne today kept their slim finals hopes alive, with a 3-0 win over relegation embattled Dandenong Thunder.
Goals from Billy (Vasilios) Konstantinidis, Marcus Schroen, and Konstantinos Stratomitros were enough for the side from Albert Park to move within 4 points of Oakleigh Cannons in 6th spot. However, Oakleigh have the benefit of having played one game less than the chasing South.
The early goal came from a Thunder turnover in the middle of the park, with mid-season signing Melvin Beckett pushing the ball wide to Giuseppe Marafioti, who cooly squared the ball to a waiting Konstantinidis, to score his first goal in seven matches.
South Melbourne left it until late to make sure of the result, with Stratomitros scoring a header from a 75th minute corner, whereas Schroen was the main benefactor of a deflection in the box, with the ball falling to his feet at the penalty spot to blast a shot past the Thunder keeper in the 80th.
South would look to build on the many positives shown from the match, with three wins from their final three games required to be any chance of stealing the final playoff spot.
Melvin Beckett was once again the engine in the midfield, playing a pivotal role in both the opening South Melbourne goal, and cutting off the service in the midfield for Thunder, forcing a large chunk of their play to be using log balls and crosses from wide.
But it was the attacking intent from the South players for which coach Peter Kokotis would be most pleased with, where from the outset South looked to move the ball forward with both pace and numbers at every opportunity, something which has been hard to come by at times this season.
On the other side of things, the loss now puts Thunder in thirteenth position, and into an automatic relegation place. Only a solitary point separates the bottom three teams fighting to stay in the top division with three games to play.
Kingston City prop up the bottom of the table on 17 points, whilst Thunder and Pascoe Vale sit equal on 18 points, albeit Pascoe Vale having superior goal difference.
All eyes will now be on this Friday’s match of the round, between South Melbourne and Oakleigh Cannons at Jack Edwards Reserve, with one team looking to keep the hunt for finals going for another week, and the other looking to confirm their playoff place.