BALLARAT Red Devils have suffered their first loss of the National Premier Leagues Victoria season, going down gallantly to ladder leader South Melbourne in a gripping contest last night.
The McDonalds Reds held strong for most of the match and had plenty of chances of their own but couldn’t stop their rampant opponents in the 2-0 loss at Lakeside Stadium.
South Melbourne began the match with most of the play but failed to make any impact on Ballarat’s tightly structured defence.
Nick Epifano caused the Reds trouble for much of the match, and was instrumental in breaking the 0-0 deadlock on the verge of half-time with a superb passage of play that set up a Jamie Reed goal.
South had no problems holding the lead into the break but were put on the back foot straight after, with Red Devils speedsters Nelson Salvatore and Shaun Romein both missing close strikes.
Reed would eventually prove to be the game changer and the match barometer, sinking the Red Devils’ hopes with a second goal at the 77-minute mark.
Boom Red Devils recruit Dane Milovanovic made his season debut when he was subbed for Pat Karras in the 75th minute.
Milovanovic made an immediate impact, nearly scoring twice in quick succession and terrorising the South defenders over the final 15 minutes.
Ballarat kept pressing right up until the 93rd minute, but for the first time this season failed to register a goal.
Earlier in the day the Red Devils’ talented 20s side scored a 3-1 win over their South counterparts.
Ballarat’s next match will be against Heidelberg on Easter Monday.