Sunday, 8 May 2005 9:34 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne has put behind it a tumultuous month returning to the winner’s circle in the best manner possible by recording a comfortable 4-0 victory against Fawkner-Whittlesea.
Coach John Anastasiadis made two changes to the line-up. Sammy DeVito made his debut for the club slotting in at right back in place of Arthur Tsirtsakis who was relegated to the bench. Arthur Tsonis recovered from a hamstring tear and took the place of Steven O’Dor who by all reports has come done with glandula fever joining team-mate Bill Natsioulas on the sidelines with the virus. Changes aside Coach Anastasiadis stuck to his favoured 4-4-1-1. Dean Anastasiadis took up his customary position in goals. The centre of defence saw Con Blatsis partner Tsonis with Rama Tavsancioglu and DeVito playing on the left and right of defence respectively. In the centre of the park Scot MacNicol resumed his partnership with George Tzirtis with Ryan Dinse and Peter Koutsoupias patrolling the left and right wings. Up front Kosta Salapasidis played his usual free-roaming role supporting Captain Vaughn Coveny who was employed as an out-and-out striker.
South began to dominate play very early on. As early as the 4th minute Scot MacNicol had a strike cleared off the line after some excellent work down the left wing by Ryan Dinse saw the Scottish winger send in a deep back post cross that MacNicol did well to control and strike past Fawkner keeper Steve Tilovski only to see his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by a well positioned Fawkner defender.
Two minutes later Salapasidis placed a free kick from the right deep into the Fawkner box. Arthur Tsonis found himself with a free header but couldn’t keep his effort down.
South then had a series of half chances, first good work by Salapasidis down the left in the 10th minute produced a quality cross that was a touch too high for an unmarked Coveny who failed to direct his header towards goal. Then in the 14th minute a Salapasidis free kick from the left this time found Tavsancioglu unmarked who seemed to rush his header sending it well wide.
Twenty-five minutes in mobile midfielder George Tzirtis created some space for himself and sent a decent 25 yard effort straight at Tilovski who gloved comfortably.
South’s first arrived in the 26th minute after the once again excellent Ryan Dinse broke down the left, skinned his direct marker and then whipped in a low ball to the heart of the Fawkner area which a lunging Coveny managed to meet and angle past Tilovski.
Dinse was at it again in the 35th minute when another raid down the left saw him weigh a perfect through-ball to MacNicol who had the presence of mind to square the ball to the top of the area, taking out Tilovski, only to see the subsequent low strike from Salapasidis once again cleared off the line by the Fawkner defence.
South came out in the 2nd half looking to kill the game off quickly. Their wishes were granted in the 48th minute after the determination of Salapasidis reaped rich reward. With the Fawkner defence hesitating to clear, Salapasidis applied pressure seeing the eventual Fawkner clearance ricochet off his shins straight into the path of the unmarked MacNicol who now had only Tilovski to beat. MacNicol kept his head, rounded Tilovski and slotted home for South’s 2nd and his 3rd goal of the season.
Fifty-two minutes in, the excellent vision of Tzirtis saw the South midfielder switch the ball wide to Koutsoupias who found himself one-on-one with his direct marker. Koutsoupias took a quick touch and then unleashed a stinging strike – just outside the box – that narrowly went over the crossbar.
Ryan Dinse was nearly rewarded for his outstanding display in the 62nd minute after a deep cross from the left saw the Scottish winger intelligently use his body to turn his marker inside out whilst at the same time managing to flick an effort on goal that required a superb reflex save from Tilovski. The Fawkner custodian managed to get a fingertip onto the ball preventing Dinse from making it 3-0.
Sixty-five minutes in South had their third. Another deep cross from the left by Dinse found substitute Arthur Tsirtsakis unmarked and narrowing in on the back-post. Tsirtsakis took a touch and sent a thunderous angled strike straight at Tilovski who blocked the effort. The rebound fell to Tavsancioglu who whipped in a ball from the left that found an unmarked MacNicol right in the middle of the Fawkner box. MacNicol took a touch and calmly slotted past Tilovski who managed to get a hand to the effort but unfortunately couldn’t keep it out.
MacNicol had been bossing the middle of the park using his superb engine to cover a great deal of ground. He was at it again after 76 minutes when he was released down the right wing in acres of space. MacNicol intelligently waited and picked his moment to deliver a quality ball, spotting a darting late ran by Tavsancioglu who managed to connect well on the half volley and under pressure only to see Tilovski once again on hand to brilliantly save this with his feet.
Fawkner managed to clear a third effort off the line in the 80th minute after a Salapasidis left-hand corner was met by a South player who headed towards goal. Tilovski was well beaten with the Fawkner defender stationed on the near-post managing to prevent the ball from crossing the line. South players immediately appealed for a penalty as the clearance appeared to involve the use of a hand; however, play was waved on.
A minute later South put the icing on the cake. Dinse spotted a run down the right by Tsirtsakis who managed to whip a deep back-post cross that found Tavsancioglu all alone. The South left wingback positioned himself for a snap-shot hitting his effort straight into the ground and over the stranded Tilovski. As the ball was about to cross the line a seemingly offside Coveny appeared to somewhat selfishly toe-poke the ball home on the back-post. Though Coveny was credited with the goal Tavsancioglu claimed it believing the ball had crossed the line before Coveny had made contact.