Sunday, 9 November 2003 12:00 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne will once again come back from their latest trip to Western Australia with nothing to show for their spirited efforts. In quite warm conditions Stuart Munro’s men put on a brave performance that emphasised defensive assurance and bar a momentary lapse from defender Levent Osman, South would’ve escaped with at least a point.
The best defensive record in the NSL couldn’t prevent the Albert Park based club from conceding that painful solitary goal, the Lakesiders had appeared to have overcome the Glory barrage with the Western Australians struggling to break through the resolute South backline.
Gun recruit Michael Panopoulos sent a shiver through the Perth faithful after unleashing a curling strike from outside the box that unfortunately for the visiting South, just failed to swerve enough, eventually just shaving the outside of Jason Petkovic’s upright.
Panopoulos’ effort seemed to spark the Glory into life, a sublime through ball from former Sheffield United defender Shaun Murphy released the usually-rampant Damian Mori who uncharacteristically made a meal of the opportunity and hit his strike way wide.
Perth had further chances with an unmarked Bradley Hassell sending his header over Galekovic’s goalmouth when he should’ve done better. After the interval Bobby Despotovski was brilliantly denied by Galekovic who managed to get his boot onto the ex-Heidelberg United marksman’s strike when the Perth hit-man had a clear sight of goal.
The game’s solitary goal arrived when South striker Michael Curcija ill-directed a back pass from the centre of the park, ex-Sydney Olympic favourite Tommy Pondlejak pounced on the blunder and his attempted cross was unfortunately handled in the area by South Melbourne defender Levent Osman, referee Simon Micallef had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Perth Striker Bobby Despotovski stepped up and slotted home the 63rd minute winner.