Monday, 24 November 2003 12:00 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South have overcome a spirited and physical Adelaide United outfit and hence moved into 2nd position on the NSL table. New South defender and former Adelaide Force Captain Ante Kovacevic was the catalyst for the victory providing the Lakesiders with two headed goals – his first goals for the club – that ultimately proved to be enough for the home side.
With United bringing 7 busloads of travelling supporters to Bob Jane, there was an unusual amount of support for the opposition. To the credit of the United fans their never relenting chanting throughout the encounter – which was admirably tackled head on by South’s very own crew of passionate chanters, the “Clarendon Corner”, – provided Bob Jane with an electric atmosphere.
The game kicked off with both sides trying to adjust to each other’s playing style. The South faithful had noticed that highly influential South Captain Vaughn Coveny hadn’t warmed up prior to kick-off and to the chagrin of the home supporters, Coveny wasn’t to figure in today’s proceedings. In came Scott Tunbridge, his inclusion presented the former Adelaide Force front-man with the unique opportunity of lining up against many of his former team-mates.
With both sides playing somewhat tentatively a 12th minute South defensive clearance saw the home side catch the United defence flat footed, South striker Michael Curcija with only Adelaide custodian Robert Bajic to beat, sent his powerful volley wide.
The 17th minute saw Adelaide muster a decent chance, NSL veteran Carl Veart had a ball played to his feet, his sharpish turn released ex-South favourite Goran Lozanovski, who with plenty of time sent his powerful drive well over Galekovic’s goalmouth. South had been sent a clear warning, United were here to get a result.
In the 23rd minute South responded in the best manner possible, a floating ball which had evaded everyone was retrieved by stand in Captain Con Boutsianis, the enigmatic South favourite weighed up his options and delicately chipped a ball into the heart of the United box, first to meet the ball was Ante Kovacevic who did well to battle off a few Adelaide players and to hence send a looping header over the outstretched arms of keeper Bajic. Kovacevic had got his first for the club but more importantly, the opening goal in a well balanced game.
A buzzing Boutsianis nearly caught Bajic out in the 26th minute when his deflected free kick was unconvincingly parried by the United keeper, Scott Tunbridge was on hand to slam the rebound into the left upright after following on from Bajic’s parry.
The Second stanza saw South out to get that all-important second goal which would provide a decent buffer to propel the Albert Park based club to victory. Early in the 2nd half, Levent Osman – who had been running tirelessly up and down the right wing from his right-back position – got the better of his man and sent in a great cross that saw Curcija volley over from 6 yards out.
South’s second goal came in similar circumstances, a break down the right saw a far post cross unleashed into the Adelaide area, Curcija was on hand to head across the United goalmouth and after a tiny scramble near the United goal-line, Ante Kovacevic was once again on hand to nod home his second in the 61st minute.
With South appearing to be in a somewhat comfortable position, Michael Curcija was released and found himself with only Bajic to beat, Curcija deftly nudged the ball towards goal but saw his effort roll agonisingly wide. The chance that should’ve sealed the result served to only inspire, from that moment on Adelaide lifted their game and put South under severe pressure.
Soon after South’s goal United captain Aurelio Vidmar – with Galekovic beaten – saw his strike cannon off the upright, after a 10 minute spell of dominating play, John Kosmina’s men deservedly pulled a goal back, Carl Veart controlled a cross and with only Galekovic to beat, Veart went for power and even though Galekovic got most of his body behind the strike, the ball still trickled over the line in the 70th minute to give United some hope.
The remaining 20 minutes saw Adelaide dominate possession and continue to try and snatch an equalizing goal, thankfully for South the equalizer never eventuated; however, there were many instances were the home faithful had their hearts in their mouths.