MELBOURNE: The curtain was drawn on the 1988 soccer season when Melbourne Croatia beat South Melbourne 4-3 in extra time in the Dockerty Cup final at Middle Park yesterday.
In an enthralling clash, the teams were locked at 2-2 at full-time, before Croatia gained the upper hand in the tie-breaking additional 20 minutes.
And it was a goal by midfielder Branko Milosevic, who converted a penalty, that paved the way.
His goal was followed by another to Joe Caleta before Paul Foster replied for South Melbourne.
It was Croatia’s seventh Dockerty Cup triumph.
The defunct Hakoah, with eight victories, is the only club which has won the state-wide knock-out competition more often.As in the semi-final against Sunshine George Cross, Croatia’s midfielders Milosevic and Josip Biskic were the match winners.
Croatia, playing against the wind, outplayed South Melbourne in the first 20 minutes and took the lead through a mistake in South Melbourne’s defence in the ninth minute.
Left back Con Argyriou tried to pass the ball back to his goal keeper Con Giatas but Hussein Skenderovic intercepted, ran around the keeper and placed the ball into the empty net When Croatia launched one of its rare attacks during this early period, Croatia sweeper Theo Selemidis preserved his team’s lead by tripping Steve Tassios on the edge of the penalty area.
South Melbourne gained a measure of consolation before half-time when referee Mike Gaut, officiating in his last match before retiring, awarded a penalty over hand ball by Croatia midfielder Paul Donnelly. Paul Trimboli converted to make the score 1-1.
South Melbourne took the lead 13 minutes after the interval through Paul Foster, whose 25m shot went in off the underside of the cross bar.
Croatia’s chances of fighting back appeared slim indeed when its captain George Hannah limped off injured in the 70th niinute. However, with eight minutes of regular time remaining, Milosevic slid in front of Giatas to equalise at 2-2.
Biskic was about to score from close range three minutes into extra time when Argyriou grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him down which resulted in a converted penalty by Milosevic to give Croatia a 3-2 lead.
Two minutes later Mark Talajic played a fine pass to Caleta who ran toward goal and drove a hard shot past Giatas for Croatia’s fourth goal South Melbourne kept on fighting and in the second half of extra time was rewarded with a goal by Foster who finished off a low shot from Trimboli.
The Canberra Times
Monday 28th November, 1988