Saturday, 15 January 2005 10:46 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne has continued its pre-season campaign with a narrow 1-0 loss to last season’s VPL runners-up the Altona Magic.
Once again the Lakeside-based club put in a spirited performance but lacked a cutting-edge up front to capitalise on the chances created. It was a far improved outing for visitors who were somewhat dour in their previous encounter against the Bulleen Zebras.
Wearing the South colours for the first time was new signing Kostas Salapisidis who only participated in the first half but still managed to look a genuine class above as his experience in the NSL and Europe would suggest. His first touch, close control and general shielding of the ball should prove to be a major asset to South throughout the coming season.
The first half saw South control the majority of possession with Evan Karavitis once again showing a level of maturity in the centre of the park that defies his 18 years. Possession however counts for little in the world game and hence South found themselves behind midway through the half when a Magic raid down the left wing saw an Altona player break deep into South’s box and whip in a perfectly placed cross that was expertly nodded home from 6 yards into the roof of the South net.
South went on to finish the half strongly and will rue two golden opportunities wasted by midfielder George Tzirtis. The first chance wasted was a follow up from a long range shot by right back Arthur Tsirtsakis. Tsirtsakis’s 25 yard effort was not held by the Altona keeper who spilled the ball right into the path of Tzirtis, faced with the slightest of angles but with the goal absolutely gapping Tzirtis somehow managed to place his shot into the side netting.
Tzirtis’s second chance came near the end of the first half when a South counter attack saw 3 South players against one Altona defender. The ball was well squared to Tzirtis who made his way into the box and with only the keeper to beat, saw his bottom-left, side-foot shot brilliantly saved by the Magic’s custodian who had spread himself impeccably and managed to get to Tzirtis’s effort with his toe.
South came out and bossed the 2nd half but saw many advantageous positions ultimately go to waste. Jesse Krncevic and Peter Koutsoupias were brought on in the 2nd stanza and had an overall positive effect on the game linking up nicely on 2 or so occasions down the right flank. In fact both Krncevic and Koutsoupias had decent half chances in the Altona box, with Knrcevic failing to connect cleanly with a volley that was coming across his body, whilst Koutsoupias seemed to hesitate a moment to long and ultimately was closed down and forced wide by the Altona defence after finding the ball at his feet – with his back to goal – 8 yards out.
To Altona’s credit they did create one decent chance in the 2nd half when nice build up play saw a well-hit shot blazed past the right South upright with South’s replacement keeper well beaten.