Wednesday, 5 January 2005 11:31 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South have completed their second serious pre-season hit-out against fellow VPL opposition going down to the Oakleigh Cannons by 2 goals to 1 at Jack Edwards Reserve, Oakleigh.
The Albert Park based club can consider themselves unlucky to go down after dominating possession and creating more chances throughout the encounter.
Selection wise, South fielded an almost exact replica of their first 11 against Essendon with the exception of exciting Scottish winger Ryan Dinse who came in on the left wing. Defensively South started with veteran custodian Dean Anastasiadis between the sticks, Tsonis, Tsirtsakis, O’Dor at the back with a young trialist playing as left wingback. In the centre of the park, Bill Nastsioulas and Evan Karavitis were responsible for South’s engine room, with Dinse and Koutsoupias on the left and right wings respectively. Up front, Kiwi striker Vaugh Coveny led the line along with Jesse Krncevic.
South began the game the quicker to settle, knocking it around quite confidently, the Lakeside based club created their first chance when a Koutsoupias centre was met by the rising Krncevic who did very well to outjump his marker and head over.
Ryan Dinse was enjoying a very solid game on the left wing, looking extremely sharp and with quick feet, the Scotsman was causing the Cannons defence all sorts of problems. Then somewhat against the run of play, Oakleigh broke forward, a decent shot was hit on target with Anastasiadis saving well, only for the oncoming ex-South midfielder George Goutzioulis to tuck home the rebound.
To South’s credit they didn’t let this setback lower their approach. Karavitis in particular was continuing to show promise in the centre of the park and in general South’s passing game was extremely attractive to watch. Late in the first half South had a goal disallowed. Koutsoupias had sent in a great ball from a right sided free kick, the ball seemed to evade everyone with South big-man Arthur Tsonis nipping in at the back post to slot home. South’s celebrations were cut short after the goal was flagged back for what must’ve been an infringement in the air.
Ryan Dinse should’ve capped off a superb first half display by capitalising on an Oakleigh defensive error which left him one-on-one with a vastly out of position Oakleigh keeper. With the ball bouncing, Dinse rushed his chip and sent his attempt well over.
After weathering the storm, Oakleigh once again went for a foray into South’s defensive half and came up with their second of the night. Ex-South defender Nick Tolios unleashed a tremendous 25 yard volley that was dipping ferociously under the crossbar only for a fully stretched Anastasiadis to fingertip onto the woodwork with once again an oncoming Oakleigh player in the right place at the right time to tuck home.
South went into the change rooms at half time upbeat with their positive performance but no doubt somewhat disheartened with that lack of a tiny bit of luck which saw them behind on the scoresheet.
The 2nd half was a somewhat tighter affair but once again South had the lion-share of possession.
Midway through the second stanza Koutsoupias was extremely unfortunate to not be given a penalty. Facing his direct marker down the right, Koutsoupia’s quick feet left his marker for dead drawing clear contact inside the box. Somewhat unexplainably the referee waved play on with luck once again evading South.
To Oakleigh’s credit they were unfortunate not to nab a third when – late in the contest – they forced a superb save from South’s second string keeper who was brought on at half time in the place of Anastasiadis. The South keeper managed at full stretch to turn the ball past his right-hand upright and out for a corner.
With the game nearing its finale, South had another chance go begging. Karavatis found the ball at his feet on the right hand side. He looked up and quickly spotted the darting Dinse making a superbly disguised run in behind the Oakleigh defence. Karavitis sent a superb ball over the top and with only the keeper to beat, the Oakleigh custodian did well to spread himself and hence smother the winger’s effort.
The final whistle was moments away when South finally got some reward for their encouraging display. Vaughn Coveny was played in behind the Oakleigh defence after a superb through ball by the South midfield. With plenty of NSL goals to his name, the Kiwi speedster took the ball in his stride, entered the Oakleigh area and crashed his shot comfortably past the helpless Oakleigh keeper.