Sunday, 3 April 2005 11:07 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne may still be a good few wins away from being Championship contenders; however, tonight against the Sunshine Georgies the Lakeside-based club displayed a key characteristic of all championship winning sides. Playing with 10 men from the 20th minute, South battled hard and managed to come away with a scrappy but extremely important 2-0 win against the Chris Taylor-coached side, at the same time maintaining their stay atop the Vodafone Premier League.
South coach John Anastasiadis made three changes to the line-up that started against the Melbourne Knights. Arthur Tsirtsakis was once again available after serving his one match ban. Tsirtsakis was slotted into his customary right-back role with Arthur Tsonis moving back into the centre of defence to partner Con Blatsis with Rama Tavsancioglu playing on the left and Steven O’Dor dropping back to the substitute’s bench. In the centre of the park George Tzirtis replaced Evan Karavitis in the starting 11 with Ryan Dinse getting the nod ahead of Peter Koutsoupias for the left wing role. Vasilios Natsioulas took up his customary position on the right wing whilst Scot MacNicol played the attacking midfield role. Up front South put its trust in usual suspects Vaughn Coveny and Kosta Salapasidis. Dean Anastasiadis was once again between the uprights for the home side.
South started brightly when the energetic MacNicol – in the 1st minute – made a nice run with the ball down the left side of the park. MacNicol worked his way into the Sunshine box but his final effort lacked a clear mind, with his shot or cross going well over the bar.
The Georgies quickly made their intent clear when they went close in the 9th minute. The Sunshine-based outfit had worked the ball to the edge of the South box and then unleashed a low curling strike that sailed just wide of Anastasiadis’s left upright.
With both sides trying to gain the initiative, South Melbourne was dealt a cruel blow in the 20th minute. After being tackled from behind, South captain Vaughn Coveny retaliated, throwing an elbow and then following it up with an attempted kick on his direct marker. After consulting the linesman Coveny was given an automatic red card, reducing the home side to 10 men with 70 minutes still to play.
Coveny’s expulsion seemed to inspire the home side with a deep Salapasidis 21st minute corner to the back-post nearly side-footed home by an unmarked Con Blatsis who had made an intelligent late run. Sunshine cleared on that occasion but a minute later MacNicol made some space for himself down the right wing, his subsequent cross found an unmarked Ryan Dinse who from 8-10 yards out sent a low diagonal header past the outstretched arm of the Georgies’ keeper, seeing his header hit the right upright and then trickle home for the home side’s opener.
The goal was exactly what Anastasiadis’s men needed, as by losing their most experienced player South were in danger of conceding ground not only in the player count, but more importantly from a mental viewpoint.
South focussed the rest of the half on trying to hit the Georgies on the counter. The defence was standing up as usual repelling any attack from the visitors. South should of made it two when in the 43rd minute Tzirtis played a superb through ball down the right wing to MacNicol, the ex-Brechin player checked inside and sent in a quality left-footed cross to the back-post, picking out an unmarked Ryan Dinse, the diminutive Scotsman’s subsequent header was rushed and not executed properly with the ball failing to test the keeper.
South were dealt a further blow right on the stroke of half time when Salapasidis was forced to retire his efforts for the evening after suffering what appeared to be either a dislocation or a break to his finger.
With Sunshine determined to get something out of the game, their 2nd half effort was largely improved. In particular the Sunshine-based club had a glowing 10 minute spell early on the 2nd period that should’ve placed them in the box seat. The Georgies put severe pressure on the South backline in the 52nd minute when box-mayhem ensued in the home side’s defensive area. Both Arthur Tsonis and Con Blatsis were forced into desperate lunging tackles with the ball eventually going wide to safety.
Fifty-seven minutes in the Georgies waisted two successive golden opportunities. First a break down the right-wing saw the Georgies’ winger deliver a stinging low ball into the box, the cross managed to evade two South defenders and made its way to the back-post with a Sunshine player meeting it but sending his strike straight into the upright. Then as South struggled to clear, the ball – just outside the box – fell to a Sunshine player who unleashed a rifled drive that was headed for the right-hand top corner but seemed to skim the crossbar as it sailed just over.
The woodwork was South’s saviour once again when a 61st minute Sunshine free-kick from the right was played deep and low into the box, the ball fell nicely to an unmarked Georgies player who narrowed in on goal only to see the rushing Dean Anastasiadis get to his feet before he was able to unleash a decent strike. However, Anastasiadis’s save fell straight to a Sunshine player inside the 6 yard box who with minimal pressure being applied by a desperately wrong-footed South defence, somehow managed to send his strike onto the underside of the crossbar, seeing his strike cannon straight back into the ground without crossing the goal-line.
Under clear pressure and with an equaliser appearing imminent, Ryan Dinse worked his magic down the left wing in the 67th minute, a quick step-over created space for the Scottish winger who sent in a delightful back-post cross that was met by an unmarked Vasilios Natsioulas who crashed his header downward and into the back of the Sunshine net. It was Natsioulas’s first goal for the Lakeside-based club and he celebrated it wildly, running to the Clarendon corner to celebrate. Unfortunately for the young South starlet, the referee failed to understand his joy, booking him for “over celebrating”.
South then had a goal disallowed. The ball was played into the feet of Ryan Dinse just outside the Sunshine box. Dinse turned and tried to play through a team-mate, however, saw his attempted pass end up looping the keeper after a Sunshine defender had mistimed his interception. With Jesse Krncevic the quickest to react, the son of Socceroo great Eddie Krncevic appeared to have opened his account, tucking home -in the 70th minute – from 2 yards into an unguarded net. Unfortunately for the home side the goal was disallowed as the linesman had judged Krncevic to have strayed offside.
With South seemingly headed to hang on, a rush of blood by the excellent Ryan Dinse nearly cost the home side dearly. Again the cross had been supplied – in the 72nd minute – from the right hand side, however, instead of attempting to header out, Dinse inexplicably used his hand in trying to get the ball away. The referee immediately pointed to the spot. However, fortunately for the home side, the execution of the penalty kick was extremely poor with the Sunshine player not even managing to get his attempt on target, blazing well over the crossbar.
Arthur Tsonis then had a 75th minute 30 yard free-kick headed for the top corner with the Sunshine keeper far from confident when dealing with the ball, failing to glove it and letting it go out for a corner.
Sunshine almost had a deserved consolation goal in the 84th minute, when again a free-kick from the right was met by a Georgies player who used his chest to direct the ball towards goal. South custodian Dean Anastasiadis did superbly well to – at full stretch – get a fingertip onto the ball and deflect it onto his left upright.
With the game won, Sunshine’s luckless night was crowned with the sending off of one of their players after Tavsancioglu had burst through the middle of the park and appeared destined for a one-on-one only to be purposefully brought down by a Georgies’s defender. The final whistle followed seconds later.
South Melbourne 2, Dinse 22, Natsioulas 68
Sunshine Georgies 0
Venue: Bob Jane Stadium, Albert Park
Attendance: about 3,000
Referee: Senko Rastocic
South Melbourne: (4-5-1) Dean Anastasiadis, Tsirtsakis, Blatsis, Tsonis, Tavsancioglu, Natsioulas, MacNicol, Tzirtis (Karavitis 58), Salapasidis (Krncevic 45), Dinse (Koutsoupias 93), Coveny (c).
Subs not used: O’Dor, Dimitropulos (GK).
Sunshine Georgies: (3-5-2) Brian, Muscat, Gauci-Seddon (Galea 46), Pajic (Greechan 79), Waterson, Gilmour, Antoniadis, Delic, Soares, Gasparis, Neceski (c).
Subs not used: Lymn, Salcin (GK).
Cautions: Soares (SG) 28, Gilmour (SG) 44, Tzirtis (SM) 50, Natsioulas (SM) 68, Krncevic (SM) 77, Pajic (SG) 77, Tavsancioglu (SM) 84.
Red Cards: Coveny (SM) 20, Muscat (SG) 92.