Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Young guns step up to plate for South

A depleted Shepparton South has defeated Spring Hills FC in extra-time and the Southerners' teenagers played a big role in getting them over the line.

MATTHEW GALEA March 11, 2014 4:05am

Shepparton South’s Steven Young (right) slotted the winning goal during extra-time against Spring Hills.

Shepparton South’s depth was given a thorough testing in Caroline Springs on Saturday.

The Southerners were forced into extra-time against a spirited Spring Hills FC during their 4-2 win over the State League Four side, after fielding a side that was missing five players from the team that started in last round’s 5-0 win over Fawkner.

Adam Scott, Billy Marshall and Jordan Montagner headlined the list of absentees, with Nick Murphy going down with a knee injury in the first half.

Tim Lardner, 15, was given the unenviable task of following who coach Reno Lia believed to be Spring Hills’ best player, while Damien Russo, 14, started up front with fellow teenager Steven Young also involved.

The Southerners were 1-0 down at half-time, but fought back in the second half to take a 2-1 lead courtesy of an own-goal and a Brendan Barton effort.

Spring Hills made it 2-2 midway through the second half and despite creating a number of chances for Barton, who couldn’t take advantage of a one-on-one opportunity before hitting the crossbar late in the half, the Southerners couldn’t break the deadlock before the regulation 90 minutes was up.

Barton got the better of the Spring Hills goalkeeper in extra-time, as did Young, which proved enough to seal progression to round three of the cup.

Lia said the game was a scrappy affair, but was happy to take the spoils with such a depleted squad.

‘‘We’re talking five or six starters that were out, so to come out of there with a win was a relief in many respects,’’ Lia said.

‘‘You can’t take that many players out of the starting line-up and think you’re going to be playing beautiful soccer, but at the end of the day we stuck it out and our fitness probably saw us through.’’

The experience was a positive one for a number of Lia’s younger charges, who he said responded well to the challenge given to them.

‘‘It was a good, scrappy opportunity for some of the young boys to get out and play in the real world,’’ Lia said.

‘‘It was physical and it was scrappy, but that just gives them another perception of what it’s like to play outside our league. These blokes we played wanted to win the game, so it was a hard match.’’

Lia confirmed Riley Hamilton had left the club to play with Goulburn Valley Suns and said Tom Langeman, who played for the Southerners on Saturday and then for the Suns against FC Bendigo on Sunday, could also make the jump.

Cobram Victory progressed to round three after Riversdale SC forfeited the round two tie.

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