Brandon Park Crowd: the ground announcer said 2,882 but the news reports say 3,800ish.
An indication that this result was always on the cards was that the ref had more touches than Trimboli.
Wolves were: Pogliacomi, Souris, Stanton, Horsley, Brooks, Surjan (Langan 90), Chipperfield, Spencer, Petrovski (Karavatakis, circa 28), Huxley, Reid (Dimoski 73). Sinozic was sitting in the stands. Ceccoli is holidaying in Greece. Younis was put out to pasture in the youth team (who gave Sydney Olympic Academy their first win (1-2) of the season). Masi was limping around the stands nursing his seven stitches.
South Melbourne were: Petkovic, Iosifidis, De Amicis, Orlic (booooooo!), Coveny, Trimboli, Curcija (Tsekinis 58), Anastasiadis, Polak, Goutzoulis, Liparoti. Others on the bench: Cuzzupe and Mustafa.
Another indication that this result was always on the cards was that South Melbourne's only decent chance in the first half came from a long distance Coveny shot. Wolves were rampant at the other end. South Melbourne had a bit more of the game in the second half. It was quite "exciting" really.
As long as Wolves maintained their frantic pace South Melbourne couldn't find a rhythm. And Nick T. was on the sideline urging Wolves to keep up the momentum. The South Melbourne counter-attacks in the first half were easily mopped up or hacked down. Yes, there were a lot of free kicks and yellow cards. But apart from one or two players it was mostly not spite but desperation.
The short story is that Wolves had their usual dominance of possession but this time more of their passes were coming off and they got a couple of balls in the net. They could have scored more, but who's quibbling. There was much end-to-end stuff and it got quite nail-biting at times. The long story is:
In South Melbourne's two early raids, Reid held Coveny at bay and Spencer beat Trimboli. Wolves' first good chance in a string of chances early on came in the third minute when Surjan (who had a first half this week to equal last week's) found Chipperfield who crossed to Horsley's head. Petkovic saved and gathered it in at the second attempt. (I don't know who South Melbourne will blame for Wolves' second goal, which came after not a little confusion in the goalmouth, but I reckon Petkovic prevented what could have been a very embarrassing scoreline.)
Then Wolves shot across the face of goal, leaving it temptingly open for a few seconds, but giving Petrovski too narrow an angle to punish. Before there's time to grimace the ball is up the other end where Pogliacomi is catching a South Melbourne cross.
Stanton takes up where he left off last week and involves himself in Wolves attacks. Bit of a worry for the sweeper of a notoriously leaky defence to be doing that against a team of famously good scorers, you might think, but when South Melbourne do counter-attack they are caught offside.
Surjan delivers a great ball to Horsley (who also is taking up where he left off last week, taking on and beating defenders and putting in crosses from the touchline) on the right who crosses to Chipperfield who responds with a soft header. Moments later Horsley again beats two defenders on the right, crosses to Chipperfield who is rushed off the ball by some more-attentive defenders. Then it's Surjan to Petrovski down the inside right, headed in for Surjan in front of goal who shoots into Petkovic's arms. Then Spencer slogs one on target but it bounces away off Petkovic's feet. And we're still inside the first 15 minutes.
Your average Wolves fan is thinking, yeah, yeah, this happens every week, we're still gonna lose. But this is happening against South Melbourne. Just maybe ...
Liparoti is brought down by Brooks.
Spencer gets one to Horsley who shoots wide to the left. Horsley is brought down by Orlic (boooooo) after another though ball from Spencer. But there's no free kick!
Reid hits a beautiful ball down the right flank for Chipperfield who beats his man and looks set to deliver but stumbles the ball over the line.
Then Polak does really well and, chasing back in defence, robs Huxley and gets the ball upfield for "Wollongong reject" Coveny who hits a beauty from 25 metres and calls a good save from Pogliacomi.
But soon it's Coveny fouling Chipperfield and, much worse, Orlic (booooo) ploughing into the back of Petrovski who was chasing a long corner from Reid toward the right sideline. Orlic (double booooo) gets a yellow card and the attention of the hostile crowd for the rest of the match. Petrovski gets a stretcher and a couple of weeks out with an injury to a medial ligament in his knee.
We're about 30 minutes in and Chipperfield is brought down again and some other southern demon gets a yellow card (too hard to tell who this was with Chipperfield trying to thread his way through a thicket of players and ref just waving the card at the retreating players' backs). Surjan hits one to Horsley who holds it up for a Surjan attempt on goal - which isn't much chop. But at least he has a shot!
Spencer beats Trimboli again. Coveny pushes Reid and Wolves have a free kick. In the 35th minute, or thereabouts, Brooks gets a yellow for hacking down Iosifidis. Minutes later he's hitting a ball for Chipperfield down the left and Wolves have a corner. Horsley has luck with him as he trips through four South Melbourne players and sets Spencer up for a shot.
Oh oh. Here's an anxious moment. Souris has to clear from the ground to beat Curcija in Wolves' penalty area. Yay! But it goes to Trimboli. Oh! But he kicks it to Pogliacomi. Yay!
The ball is hoofed down the other end where Chipperfield heads it to Petkovic. With 45 minutes gone Coveny wins a show of strength against Reid. Souris fouls Anastasiadis. Spencer fouls Trimboli. A ball from Petkovic led to a combination between Trimboli and Goutzoulis that saw Trimboli down in the Wolves penalty area but Wolves got the free kick. Then South Melbourne get a free kick for a Spencer foul on Trimboli. A ball from Karavatakis lets Spencer almost set up a South Melbourne own goal but Orlic (boooo) tries to stop it and falls over Petkovic who saves it nevertheless. Petkovic soon has the ball in his hands again thanks to a shot from Karavatakis after a pass from Chipperfield.
Just before half time Karavatakis gets the treatment from De Amicis, following a build-up that involved Surjan, Karavatakis, Surjan and Huxley.
The fun and games continued after the half-time whistle. The police had to rush in to interrupt an altercation between Nick T. and Orlic (boooo) in the tunnel after Nick gave Orlic (boooo) a piece of his mind and Orlic (booooo) gave Nick a piece of his elbow.
In the 46th minute Surjan is booked for a foul on Coveny (after it looked like Coveny elbowed Surjan in the face). But South Melbourne started the second half more at their pace and with more time to look confident on the ball.
In the 53rd minute Surjan beats Orlic (boooo) and shoots and his shot is deflected for a corner by Surjan from the right which is flicked on by Chipperfield to Horsley who scores.
Then Chipperfield fouls Coveny. Then Coveny is on a break but falls over Stanton. In the 58th minute Liparoti downs Chipperfield on his way after a Surjan ball. And Liparoti is rewarded with a yellow card. Surjan takes the free kick which is cleared to Spencer who blasts over the bar. Goutzoulis beats Surjan and hits a through ball which is cleared by Souris. Chipperfield hits a wonderful ball to Karavatakis who is just offside. Chipperfield does some more great work on the left but crosses harmlessly to the keeper. Down the other end, Stanton does really well to beat Coveny in the corner but the clearance ends up back at Coveny's feet. He crosses to the Wolves keeper. Back down the pitch Wolves seem certain to score but the opportunity passes with Karavatakis too wide to do anything with the ball. And down the other end Stanton is called upon to save the day. Then Surjan looks like shooting but instead delivers a gem for Chipperfield who makes Petkovic push it around the left upright. Back in the Wolves penalty area Anastasiadis goes down after a kick in the face from Souris while they're competing for a Trimboli cross. (No free kick.) Brooks fouls Iosifidis. Huxley is "cautioned" for a stupid hack at Coveny who is soon frustratedly firing one high over the Wolves goal.
In the 75th minute Surjan plays one of his telepathic passes into an open space (from which Wolves players are retreating when he's expecting them to be attacking); Anastasiadis leaves his marker and snaps it up, setting Coveny up for a pretty easy goal (which apparently took a deflection off Souris).
Wolf's fans are pretty quiet now. They know the usual rot will set in. And for a while it looked like it had. Three minutes later Tsekinis crosses for Coveny who heads goalward; Pogliacomi can only tip onto the upright. But Wolves are still dangerous. Within the next couple of minutes Karavatakis has had a shot and Tsekinis has been booked for kicking the ball away. Then Chipperfield crosses from the right and Karavatakis just can't connect with a diving header.
Surjan, trying to make amends, has cranked up a few notches, runs at goal, beats several players but his shot is closed down. It falls for Spencer who fires one over. In the 83rd minute Dimoski and Karavatakis have a combination that ends in Dimoski firing one over. Couple of minutes later Horsley finishes where several Wolves players can't. With two goals under his belt he's after a third and almost straight after the kick off he has the ball again, is taking on the whole South Melbourne team, and shooting one dangerous enough for Petkovic to tip over.
In the 88th minute Dimoski fouled Trimboli on the edge of the Wolves area. Polak took the kick, it was cleared back to him, he hit it back to Pogliacomi who was collected by a late-arriving Orlic (booooo). Several Wolves and South Melbourne players ran in to debate the fullness of the evening's moon. When the melee subsided the ref had in his hand Orlic's (boooo) second yellow card. Orlic (booo) had the covered race rolled out and a couple of police to protect him from the half dozen kids keen to make sure he knew it was him they were booooing at.
With the three points almost in Wolves' grasp they were again attacking and looked good for another goal from a penalty area scuffle but South Melbourne cleared and Souris does well to fend off Tsekinis.
For all Wolves attention on Coveny, I think he turned up at the Fraternity Club after the game.
Wolves still think they have a chance of making the finals. All they have to do is keep winning at home and drawing away. Ahem.
The Brazilian striker reported to be trying out with them is in fact a defender. Masi should be back in a week or two. Karavatakis enjoyed his debut and despite his relatively minute stature thought the South Melbourne defenders were a bunch of pussies (that's not quite his phrasing; but he wasn't overawed by any means).
No comment on what's up with Sinozic. Something Mr Gatt might want to dig out?
Tony Perenich reckons he's healing steadily and could be playing in, ooooh, let's see now ... seven weeks? In time to be clobbered by Souris should they meet in the finals?