Sunday, 30 January 2005 10:26 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
In front of almost 12,000 spectators South Melbourne announced their presence in the Vodafone Premier League with an unlucky scoreless draw against traditional rivals Heidelberg.
Hungry for some football action the South supporter gave the club the exact boost that it needed by turning up in massive numbers. The game was special for a few reasons. First and foremost it was the first meeting of the two bitter rivals for a decade and secondly, the game marked the official send-off of South legend Paul Trimboli.
South kicked off with a starting line-up of Dean Anastasiadis in goal, a back four consisting of Steven O’Dor, Arthur Tsonis, Scot Macnicol and Arthur Tsirtsakis. In the centre of the park, South played Evan Karavitis and George Tzirtis with Vasilios Natsioulas and Ryan Dinse doing the wing work. Up front Kostas Salapasidis was given a free-roaming role with Vaughn Coveny the main spearhead.
The game commenced with former South favourite Con Boutsianis sending a 1st minute free-kick narrowly wide. The Boutsianis effort served as a reminder of the higher level of experience and class present in the Heidelberg first 11. Heidelberg midfield ace Steve Pantelidis summed up the level of intensity present in the game when his ill-timed 4th minute tackle sent South captain Vaughn Coveny tumbling and clutching his leg. Pantelidis was dually booked.
With both teams struggling to settle Heidelberg sent a shiver through the heart of the South defence when a 19th minute free-kick from the right-peg of ex-South starlet Billy Damianos was met by a rising Berger’s player with his header flashing narrowly wide.
Heidelberg’s 19th minute opportunity was to be their last genuine chance of the entire encounter as with the crowd behind the home side, South looked to gain the ascendency. Kostas Salapasidis’s all-round class was proving to be vital for South and it was his inch perfect ball over the top in the 30th minute that released Coveny one-on-one with Bergers’ keeper Lou Acevski. Coveny looked to delicately chip the Heidelberg custodian but Acevski was alert and got a finger to the attempt, Coveny then had a follow-up opportunity where it appeared Acevski infringed the Kiwi forward but referee Perry Mur waived play-on.
32 minutes in Vasilios Natsioulas received a ball from Tzirtis which released him wide on the right. Natsioulas cut inside and unleashed a dipping and curling cross-shot that sailed narrowly wide of Acevski’s right upright.
South went into the half-time break confidently knowing that the balance of play and chances belonged to them.
The Albert Park-based club looked to continue their positive outlook in the second half and nearly succeeded in the 50th minute when the superb Salapasidis received the ball and advanced to just outside the Heidelberg box. His subsequent shot was loaded with power and flashed just over the Heidelberg framework.
Having had a solid if somewhat quiet debut Scottish winger Ryan Dinse showed his potential in the 63rd minute when he comfortably skinned his direct marker, made his way into the Heidelberg box and sent in a low venomous cross the impeccable Acevski was once more on hand to alertly intercept.
South then had a flurry of chances. The first came in the 72nd minute when Scottish right-back Scot Macnicol released Coveny over the top with a skied through-ball. Coveny did well to shake off his marker and entered the Heidelberg defensive area with only Acevski to beat. Fortunately for the visitors Acevski succeeded in spreading himself well and making a big presence, managing to get his body onto the shot and hence deflecting it out for a corner.
Then in the 73rd minute Salapasidis received the ball on the right-wing, his brilliant close control saw him skip past a couple of Heidelberg players and hence make his way into the box. His subsequent angled shot was headed for the bottom corner only for Acevski to once again get a fingertip onto the ball, managing to divert around the upright for a corner. From the subsequent corner a Vaughn Coveny flick-on to the back post was met by Salapasidis who from 3 yards out sent his header over the bar.
From there on the game was played out with both sides cautious of the result. Minor chances fell to Heidelberg substitute Tsioulis who had a 78th minute drive comfortably saved by Anastasiadis. South then saw an 86th minute strike from outside the box by George Tzirtis also easily saved by Acevski.
Final Score: South Melbourne FC 0 – Heidelberg United Warriors 0
Venue – Bob Jane Stadium
Attendance – 11,800
Referee – Perry Mur
South Melbourne: (4-5-1) Anastasiadis, MacNicol, O’Dor, Tsonis, Tsirtsakis, Natsioulas, Karavitis, Tzirtis, Salapasidis, Dinse (Koutsoupias 66), Coveny (c)
Subs not used: Krncevic, Curtis, De Nettis, Dimitropulos (GK)
Heidelberg United: (3-4-3) Acevski, Erdogan, Roberts, Liparoti, Karapatsos (Yusef 59), Pantelidis, Damianos, Vassiliadis (c), Simsek (Goutzioulis 59), Tricarico, Boutsianis (Papadopoulos 66)
Subs not used: Tsoulis, Ouliaris
Cautions: Pantelidis (HU) 8, Tsonis (SM) 79, Roberts (HU) 83
Red Cards: (None)