South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Essendon v South – Friendly Match Report

Essendon v South – Friendly Match Report

Thursday, 30 December 2004 10:17 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

(Please be aware some corrections where made as at 31/12/2004 1.30pm)

South kicked off their 04/05 pre-season campaign with an unlucky 0-1 defeat in the somewhat unfamiliar surroundings of the Calabria club in Brunswick West.

The game served as the first serious pre-season hit-out against fellow VPL opposition for the Albert Park based club.

With the majority of the squad assembled South Coach John Anastasiadis was given the opportunity to have a thorough, yet preliminary look at his playing stocks.

Familiar faces from the old NSL that were present in the /starting line-up included GK Dean Anastasiadis, winger and ex-Melbourne Knights player Bill Natsioulas as well as South/ war horse Vaughn Coveny who along with Jesse Krncevic was in charge of leading the line. Not to be outdone, Essendon also fielded two South old boys in the form of Steve Iosifidis and Michael Curcija.

Both teams took a sufficient amount of time in adjusting to the pace of the game, in fact during the first 10-15 minutes clear cut openings were no where to be seen.

The lull of goalmouth action came to an end when midway through the first half Jesse Krncevic was played in behind the Essendon defence and with only the keeper to beat, the Essendon keeper positioned himself well and hence blocked the ensuing shot on goal.

With little to no spark present in the game, South did have one overwhelming positive. The form of ex-Whittlesea Stallions winger/striker Peter Koutsoupias was a clear eye opener. With genuine pace down the wing, a strong build, quick feet and a powerful shot, Koutsoupias was proving to be a handful for the Essendon defence. His first half strike outside the box from the left produced a solid save from the Essendon keeper.

VIS graduate Evan Karavitis was also having a solid game in the centre of the park, sitting slightly in a defensive midfield position he looked particularly sharp on the ball, with good strength and quickness. The Lakeside club were also quite assured at the back, with Arthur Tsonis, Arthur Tsirtsakis and Steven O’Dor managing to easily repel any Essendon threat.

The second half saw the introduction of Tex Apostolikas where he went up front in place of Coveny. Apostolikas caught the eye almost immediately with a nice run at the Essendon defence which resulted in a decent shot. The second stanza also saw Natsioulas get into the game and start looking a genuine threat. On a couple of occasions he managed to go past his direct marker and whip in a ball, unfortunately for South no-one could meet the crosses, but the signs were no doubt positive.

Towards the end of the second half South had a goal disallowed after excellent work down the right wing by Koutsoupias resulted in a goal mouth scramble that eventually fell to Krncevic who tucked it away from 6 yards only to see the goal pulled up for what appeared to be either an infringement or offside.

After clearly winning honours, South succumbed to a very late sucker punch. Essendon managed to quickly break and get the ball to ex-South striker Michael Curcija’s feet in the box, Curcija calmly laid it off, and after one more pass an Essendon player was left with a clear shot on goal from 12 yards out, his shot was scuffed but still managed to beat South’s replacement keeper – a substitute for Dean Anastasiadis at the break – who was wrong footed by the mis-hit.

So all in all, a decent first hit-out for South, positives included the form of young guns Koutsoupias, Natsioulas, Apostolikas and Karavitis.

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