Sunday, 6 February 2005 10:24 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne have scored their first victory in the 2005 Vodafone Premier League defeating the St. Albans Saints by 1 goal to nil. In front of 3000 or so supporters, a breathtaking first half strike by Kiwi striker Vaughn Coveny was enough to settle the tie.
Coach John Anastasiadis fielded the same first eleven as he did in round 1 playing a flat back four of Tsonis, O’Dor, Tsirtsakis and MacNicol with a four man midfield consisting of Karavitis, Tzirtis, Natsioulas and Dinse. Up front Kosta Salapasidis was again given a free roaming role with Captain Vaughn Coveny playing as the lone striker.
With less hype surrounding the game and the St. Albans line-up relatively unknown, South came out with a far more open approach. This somewhat lax outlook almost immediately cost the home side when only in the 2nd minute a superb over-the-top through-ball by the St. Albans midfield was well controlled by striker Bossio who found himself six yards out and with only Anastasiadis to beat. Fortunately for the home side, Bossio scuffed his volley and didn’t even hit the target.
The Saints where at it again in the 7th minute when Paleka created some nice space for himself at the top of the box and unleashed a venomous strike that Anastasiadis did well to keep out.
Somewhat against the run of play, South opened the scoring. A 25-yard free kick was played square by Salapasidis to Coveny who looked to have taken a touch too many but just when the chance seemed to have been wasted, Coveny managed to unleash a stinging 13th minute angled drive – from outside the box- that Saints’ custodian Stjepan Gal – at full stretch – couldn’t get anywhere near.
Though disappointed with going behind, St. Albans continued to create chances. South pre-season trialist Ivan Razov saw a 16th minute free-kick – from just outside the South area – parried over by the excellent Anastasiadis. The South keeper was the home side’s saviour again when he parried another decent strike in the 21st minute.
The half ended with a bit of bust-up between South’s Scottish winger Ryan Dinse and a St. Albans player. The situation was close to boiling over with many players running to get involved but was thankfully quickly cooled with Dinse receiving a yellow card.
Seeing that South was failing in the centre of the park, coach Anastasiadis replaced Tzirtis with Koutsoupias at the start of the 2nd half, moving Natsioulas to the centre and playing Koutsoupias on the right wing.
South came out in the 2nd half far more determined, as early as the 49th minute Coveny broke down the right wing, shaked off his marker yet was slowed in his tracks by a lack of support, he still managed to pick out Ryan Dinse’s run on the back post but the South winger failed to connect with his attempted snapshot volley.
Dinse was at it again in the 51st minute when his dangerous run down the left produced a quality low centre that evaded the St. Albans keeper and was primed for a tap in only to see a lack of South players streaming into the box to get on the end of it.
St. Albans’ only chance in the second half was a 56th minute Dragicevic free-kick that looked headed for the top corner but thankfully for the home side just skimmed the roof of the net.
Koutsoupias had looked eager to impress and was at the heart of South’s next chance. His superb interplay with Dinse saw Koutsoupias released down the right, his subsequent 66th minute delivery was whipped in low with Saints’ defender Ivan Filipovic fortunate not to divert into his own net, seeing his mis-kicked interception just clear the crossbar with keeper Gal no-where in sight.
South then finished the game with a flurry and were denied two penalties which seemed clear cut. First a mazy 77th minute dribble by Salapasidis saw the South playmaker make his way into the St. Albans box, dazzling his way past the Saints’ defence Salapasidis appeared to have been clearly brought down yet referee Giuseffi waved play on. Then an 88th minute through-ball by Evan Karavitis was latched onto by the speedy Koutsoupias who took a touch away from the keeper, having his legs taken out in the process. Referee Giuseffi whistled immediately though to the amazement of the home supporters, issued Koutsoupias a yellow card for apparent simulation.
In between the two penalty appeals, Koutsoupias had shown his dogged determination in managing to outpace and outmuscle his direct marker and narrow into goal to unleash a 80th minute angled drive that keeper Gal did well to hold.
Final Score: South Melbourne FC 1 – St. Albans Saints 0
Venue – Bob Jane Stadium
Attendance – 2,989
Referee – Lewis Giuseffi
South Melbourne: Anastasiadis, MacNicol, O’Dor, Tsonis, Tsirtsakis, Natsioulas, Karavitis, Tzirtis (Koutsoupias 45), Salapasidis, Dinse (Krncevic 69), Coveny (c)
Subs not used: Curtis, De Nettis, Dimitropulos (GK)
Saint Albans Saints: Gal, Suric, Paleka M, Buljubasic, Filipovic, Paleka A, Razov, Franjic, Bosnic, Boddio, Dragicevic, Vunderl, Pete, Ievardo, Gazic
Cautions: Dinse (SM), Tsirtsis (SM), Koutsoupias (SM), ? (SA)
Red Cards: (None)