South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Magic strike by Tsonis sinks Altona

Magic strike by Tsonis sinks Altona

Monday, 14 March 2005 11:15 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

A wonder-strike from South Melbourne centre-back Arthur Tsonis has steered the home side to a 1-0 victory and helped maintain South’s three point lead atop the Vodafone Premier League.

Coach John Anastasiadis fielded an unchanged line-up from last week’s stirring away result to Oakleigh with Peter Koutsoupias retaining his starting place and Ryan Dinse returning from suspension on the bench.

After a month of playing away from home, South started the game frantically eager to show their home supporters a glimpse of their brilliant away form. As early as the 5th minute a Vasilios Natsioulas corner was driven in low to the top of the box, Koustoupias had found space but unfortunately failed to connect cleanly with his volleyed attempt.

In the 7th minute fearless South right back Arthur Tsirtsakis was cautioned, Tsirtsakis felt hard done by as his tackle – though from behind – appeared to have been timed well and gotten the ball. From the resulting free-kick the Magic tried to catch South custodian Dean Anastasiadis unawares by quickly taking their free but the experienced Anastasiadis sensed the danger and moved quickly to his left managing to glove the attempt.

Then in the 9th minute Koustoupias produced a stinging right-foot cross from the left-wing which found Coveny unmarked in the opposition’s box. Coveny’s glancing header trickled narrowly wide, but truth be said, the South skipper could’ve done better.

With South’s football starting to flow, the ever-improving Natsioulas superbly skinned his direct marker down the right flank, running onto his delicate chip over his opponent to cut inside and pass square to Kosta Salapasidis who with a quick glance up played in the oncoming Koutsoupias, unfortunately for South Koutsoupias slightly hesitated, taking a touch when he perhaps should’ve shot first time, allowing Altona custodian Martin John to close in and apply pressure, the chance was gone.

Only a minute later, a Salapasidis corner found Tsirtsakis unmarked in the heart of the Altona box, Tsirtsakis rose and made quality contact but unfortunately couldn’t direct his header low enough, seeing it fly over the crossbar.

Koustoupias was at it again in the 14th minute, the speedy winger had started the game on fire terrorising the Altona defence with the 14th minute giving South supporters a glimpse of his tremendous pace. Receiving the ball just past the half-way line, Koustoupias nudged it ahead of his direct marker, backed himself for pace and comfortably skinned his man, narrowing in on goal and with only John to beat; Koustoupias unleashed a powerful drive that the ex-Melbourne Knight’s keeper did well to parry.

Confirming their undeniable dominance in the first 20 minutes, Scot MacNicol found the ball in the centre of the park with plenty of time and space. MacNicol spotted the darting right-wing 16th minute run of Natsioulas and played through the South young-gun. Approaching in on goal and again with only John to beat, Natsioulas attempted an outside-of-the-foot finish, aiming for the bottom-left corner but miss-hit his attempt failing to test the Altona keeper.

21 minutes in and South had decent claims for a penalty, with a ball played in from the right, Kiwi striker Vaughn Coveny appeared to have received a nudge whilst position himself for the header, referee Lewis Giuseffi failed to see any contact and waved play on.

With Altona weathering South’s initial onslaught, the game went through a period where both sides attempted to gain dominance. It was South however who created the last noteworthy chance of the first half when exceptional interplay down the right-wing produced a superb 36th minute cross from Salapasidis who managed to pick out an unmarked Coveny, somewhat panicking, or perhaps not expecting the ball to fall his way, the South skipper rushed his effort, hitting a raised side-footed attempt well wide.

Managing to hold onto a 0-0 score at half time, the visitors came out in the second half with renewed vigour. With 51 minutes played a searching ball from the Altona midfield found a player unmarked deep on the right wing, working his way into the box the Altona player cleverly squared for one of his oncoming attackers, just as it appeared that South where about to go behind, a lunging Arthur Tsonis read the situation brilliantly, timing his sliding tackle to perfection and protecting Anastasiadis from having to make a save.

A minute later, referee Giuseffi once again dubiously waved play-on when a Scot MacNicol run deep into the Altona area was upended by a tackle from behind. The South faithful where at a loss to explain Giuseffi’s decision, especially since he was only a handful of yards away and perfectly positioned behind the tackle to make the right call.

With South struggling for inspiration up front, lion-heart defender Arthur Tsonis took matters into his own hands. South had won a 62nd minute free kick just outside the Altona area but on a slight angle. With the usual suspects lining up to take the free-kick, few expected Tsonis to step up but the ex-Whittlesea Stallions centre-back did just that, unleashing a brilliantly placed top right-hand corner finish that had the fully stretched Martin John well beaten and the Clarendon Corner in full voice.

The goal was just the tonic South needed to step up a gear, 65 minutes in a cross from the right found Natsioulas unmarked in the Altona area, instead of shooting, Natsioulas tried to unselfishly centre allowing the Altona defence to adjust and eventually clear. Then on 71 minutes, Koutsoupias lost his marker down the right, sped towards goal, and on a slight angle blazed narrowly over.

South had a scare in the 72nd minute when the Magic whipped in a deadly cross from the left that fell advantageously to one of their players in the home side’s box. Fortunately for the home side Arthur Tsonis once again showed his worth, reading the play well and eventually clearing.

South were searching for the 2nd goal which would confirm the result, it nearly arrived after 75 minutes when Coveny was released in acres of space down the left wing, narrowing in on goal, Coveny tried to open up the angle and aim for the opposite corner, but as he adjusted, the Altona defence managed to recover and smother his shot.

In the 80th minute Tsirstakis was given his marching orders after his shirt pull earned him his second bookable offence and an early shower. It was a setback for South who now had to ride 10 minutes of pressure with a man down.

Altona nearly grabbed a late equaliser when an 87th minute free-kick by Cameron Pino was headed for the top right-hand corner but was brilliantly saved one-handed by a scurrying Dean Anastasiadis at full stretch. It was ultimately a save which preserved the result, a result which was nearly doubled when late on substitute Ryan Dinse produced a tight mazy run in the Altona box and created space for a strike, only to see John react quickly and brilliantly save.

Final Score:
South Melbourne 1, Tsonis 63
Altona Magic 0

Venue: Bob Jane Stadium, Albert Park
Attendance: approx. 3,500
Referee: Lewis Giuseffi.

South Melbourne: (4-4-2) Dean Anastasiadis, Tsirtsakis, Blatsis, Tsonis, Tavsancioglu, MacNicol, Karavitis, Salapasidis (Dinse 67), Koutsoupias,
Natsioulas (Tzirtis 78), Coveny (c) (Krncevic 89) Subs not used: D’Or, Dimitropulos (GK)

Altona Magic: (3-5-2) John, Mrkela, Azzopardi (Delev 46), Bozinovski, Cergovski (Lozanovski 46), Stergiopoulos, Mladenovic (c), Opazo, Pino, Becvinovski, Riddle (Kolevski 79) Subs not used: Dimitrievski, Cvetkovski (GK)

Cautions: Tsirtsakis (SM) 8, Bozinovski (AM) 55, Tsirtsakis (SM) 80
Red Cards: Tsirtsakis (SM) 80

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