Wednesday, 12 January 2005 11:13 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne have gone down for the third time in consecutive pre-season friendlies losing to the reigning VPL champions the Bulleen Zebras by 3 goals to nil.
An overall dour game saw South coach John Anastasiadis persist with a line-up missing key players Ante Kovacevic and new South signing Kostas Salapasidis.
Using 9 players who started against Oakleigh, Anastasiadis gave a chance to a couple of trialists who made up the rest of the eleven.
The game started in a somewhat lazy manner, both teams failed to assert any sort of dominance with Bulleen happy to sit back and let South knock the ball around. Chances were not being created with both sets of goalkeepers having little work to do.
South did manage to create one memorable chance in the first half when right winger Ryan Dinse played through Vaughn Coveny who with only the keeper to beat appeared to have managed to sneak it under ex-South custodian Michael Theoklitos only for the latter to get a hand on it and hence prevent it from crossing over the line.
The 2nd half saw South with the greater possession but ultimately the experience of the VPL champions proved to be the difference.
Bulleen got their first near the start of the second stanza when an attack from the right was whipped across the South box with an incoming Zebras player on hand to easily tuck in on the back post past a stranded Dean Anastasiadis.
South almost immediately replied when they won a penalty soon after going behind. Up stepped Coveny who saw his shot brilliantly saved by master shot-stopper Michael Theoklitos who palmed away after diving to his right.
Bulleen got their second in a similar manner to their first. A ball from the right eluded the entire South defence with a fast tracking Bulleen player on hand to calmly finish from an acute – though very close to goal – angle into the roof of the South net.
With South continuing to have more of the ball young South midfielder Bill Nastioulas almost conjured a goal out of nothing. With his back to goal and just outside the box, Natsioulas flicked the bobbling ball up and in one sweet motion unleashed a well placed low right-foot volley that Theoklitos did well to keep out.
The game was nearing its climax when Bulleen nabbed a third. A comical error from South’s replacement keeper saw him come out to either catch or punch a high ball. He failed to make contact and collided into a team-mates back, with no time to recover, the ball fell to a lurking Bulleen player who with the easiest of tasks slammed home for the final goal of the evening.