South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Record breaking South slip-up at Gully

Record breaking South slip-up at Gully

Sunday, 10 April 2005 11:22 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

In rain affected conditions South Melbourne has suffered its first defeat of the 2005 Vodafone Premier League season going down 1-0 to new ladder leader the Green Gully Cavaliers.

South gave a full debut to exciting Brazilian recruit Fernando Moraes who was used largely in a midfield holding role. The Brazilian slotted in very comfortably showing a great range of passing ability and solid positioning and will no doubt reach greater levels of performance as his fitness comes along with more game time.

Moraes was brought in for George Tzirtis, whilst Jesse Krncevic was trusted to lead the frontline in the place of the suspended Vaughn Coveny. Those two changes aside, coach John Anastasiadis kept to his trusted core group, starting with his brother Dean in between the sticks, Arthur Tsonis and Con Blatsis in the heart of the defence with George Tsirtsakis and Rama Tavsancioglu playing right and left back respectively. Partering Moraes in the centre of the park was the more attack-minded Scot MacNicol, with Ryan Dinse on the left wing and Vasilios Natsioulas on the right. Up front, Kosta Salapasidis was again given his free roaming supporting role, playing off the shoulder of Krncevic.

With both sides aware of the importance the match held – a win for either side would see them go top – both sets of players were intent on holding their positions and playing simple football to bed themselves in. This approach resulted in a series of half-chances with genuine golden chances few and far between.

The first half-chance of the encounter fell to Gully after a 6th minute corner was headed over from a rising Cavaliers player who couldn’t keep his header down. Then 11 minutes into the contest Natsioulas found some space down the right flank, the ex-Melbourne Knight’s player intelligently summed up the situation sending in a low cross to the feet of Krncevic, who on-the-turn blazed over.’

Thirteen minutes in another Gully corner caused heart flutters for the South defence with both sets of players scrambling to make contact in the Gully box, finally the ball fell to a Cavalier’s player who directed a bobbling shot into the side netting. A minute later and South had claims for a penalty after a Salapasidis corner was headed across the Gully area only for Tsonis to go down with what appeared to be push in the back.

Gully then tore the South defence to shreds after a glorious 18th minute through ball from midfield found Gully winger Andy Vargas on the edge of the South box, with the South defence scrambling Vargas held the ball up and eventually laid it off only to see his team-mate’s shot go miles over the South goal-mouth.

Krncevic was making the most of his extra game time looking lively on a couple of occasions. The son of Australian football icon Eddie Krncevic had two decent attempts on goal in the 20th and 23rd minutes respectively with both shots comfortably gloved by Gully custodian Pasi Schwalger.

Gully’s best chance in the first half came in the 29th minute after an extremely patient build-up was rewarded when a ball played into the South box was met with a lunging, toe-poke attempt by gully striker Nick Tsaltas that had beaten a fully stretched Anastasiadis only to rebound off the left upright.

Moraes was having an obvious influence in the centre of the park, his direct passing was helping South keep their structure and it was his 31st minute chipped ball from the left that caused the Gully defence problems. Both sets of players scrambled for contact, however, fortunately for the home side the ball eventually fell clear.

South then finished the half with two quality chances. The first was created by the ever-busy Ryan Dinse who after being released down the left in the 36th minute, saw his deadly cross tentatively cleared by the Gully defence, with the ball falling beautiful for the incoming Natsioulas who unleashed a stinging volley on goal that again was foiled by the positioning of a Gully defender who managed to get his head to the ball and send it out for a corner.

With 38 minutes played Scot MacNicol burst through the Gully midfield with South in a 3-on-1 position. MacNicol played the correct ball and released Natsioulas on the right who burst into the Gully area and when a shot was begging, Natsioulas took the unselfish, but ultimately wrong option of trying to centre for Krncevic who was well covered, with the Gully defence intercepting and clearing.

Gully started the 2nd half buzzing when Andy Vargas made some space down the right flank, Vargas cut inside and sent a low strike across Anastasiadis with the South keeper comfortably beaten. Fortunately for South, Vargas’s strike cannoned off the right upright with the visitors clearing.

Then in the 54th minute South had a definite penalty waved on. Tsirtsakis was released down the right flank and produced a stinging ball right into the heart of the Gully area. The ball took a bounce and clearly hit the arm of a Gully player with referee Perry Mur 5 yards away and staring straight at the incident. Such was the clarity of the handball that it was as if Mur had chosen to blink at the wrong moment and hence missed the contact.

Ryan Dinse then produced a piece of individual skill, making a solid run down the right flank, cutting inside, but sending his a relatively tame 56th minute effort straight at Schwalger.

It was obvious that Gully’s second half tactics where to catch South on the counter, the home side were playing long balls at every opportunity and their persistence reaped rich reward in the 57th minute after another long ball released striker Nick Lazarevski. With much still to do, Lazarevski skipped past South defender Arthur Tsonis as if he wasn’t there, angled in towards goal and from 10 yards out sent his shot under South custodian Dean Anastasiadis who got some of his body onto the ball but couldn’t keep it out.

With South somewhat shell-shocked, the Albert Park-based club raised its tempo. Seventy minutes in a Salapasidis corner was met well by the rising Tavsancioglu with giant Gully custodian Schwalger quickly reacting to glove. Three minutes later South had a free kick on the right just outside the Gully area. A stinging ball was delivered with the Gully defence under intense pressure, fortunately for the home side they managed to clear for a corner.

South were dominating possession and were pushing everyone forward leaving the backline open to another Gully “sucker-punch”. Gully almost capitalised on South’s attacking play when they pushed the ball to Brandan Vassallo on the right flank, with the South defence hurriedly rushing back to recover, Vassallo managed to produce a mazy run, skipping past two South players on his way to entering to the South box, however, his subsequent 82nd minute strike found the side-netting. Shortly after, South defender Arthur Tsonis was substituted after tearing his hamstring and appears to have ruled himself out of action for 2-3 weeks.

Coach John Anastasiadis had sent on debutant Gianni De Nittis and Peter Koutsoupias in the hope of salvaging a vital equaliser, with De Nittis having a good chance in the 92nd minute after a South corner had fell nicely to him at the top of the box, only for his subsequent strike to be blazed well over. One minute later South had one final attack when a cross from the right-wing was looping dangerously near Schwalger’s goalmouth with the Gully keeper gloving it right on the line and then managing to hold onto it as a swarm of South player’s narrowed in.

Disappointingly, the well-behaved travelling South faithful were let down by a couple of hoons who threw flares onto the playing arena just as the final whistle had sounded. This is the sort of unsolicited behaviour that only seeks to tarnish the image of the club for there were no excuses for the actions taken by the few individuals who decided to go the next step.

Final Score:
Green Gully Cavaliers 1, Lazarevski (58)
South Melbourne 0

Venue: Green Gully Reserve
Attendance: about 4,000
Referee: Perry Mur

Green Gully Cavaliers: (4-5-1) Schwalger, Vassallo, Markovski, Nastevski, Fak, Andy Vargas, Fleming, Velkovski, Lapsansky (Rajher 79), Roddy Vargas, Tsaltas (Lazarevski 53).
Subs not used: Batinovic, Nikolic, Loncaric (GK).

South Melbourne: (4-4-2) Dean Anastasiadis (c), Tsirtsakis (Koutsoupias 75), Blatsis, Tsonis (O’Dor 89), Tavsancioglu, MacNicol, Salapasidis, Moraes, Dinse (De Nettis 88), Natsioulas, Krncevic.
Subs not used: Karavitis, Dimitropulos (GK).

Cautions: Nastevski (GG) 27, Blatsis (SM) 55, Lapsansky (GG) 71

Red Cards: None

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