South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Brazilian rocket seals win

Brazilian rocket seals win

Sunday, 5 June 2005 11:31 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

South Melbourne has extended its unbeaten run to 5 games but more importantly closed within 1 point of first place after a well-drilled if not particularly polished 3-1 win against the Frankston Pines.

Peter Koutsoupias responded to the challenge of leading the line with a sharp double whilst Brazilian import Fernando Moraes rounded off the scoring with a stunning free kick late in the proceedings.

Coach John Anastasiadis made 3 changes to his line-up from last week with brother and number 1 goalkeeper Dean Anastasiadis back in between the uprights. Steven O’Dor returned to the first 11 after recovering from a serious virus and partnered Arthur Tsonis in the centre of the defence with left back Rama Tavsancioglu starting on the bench. Tavsancioglu has been nursing a sore groin and was substituted last week against St. Albans because of the injury. Finally, with Captain Vaughn Coveny away on international duty, Fernando Moraes was granted his first start since the game against Preston.

The personnel changes meant that Peter Koutsoupias was given a chance to lead the line. Koutsoupias has been playing most of the season out on the flanks a departure from the striking role he has played for the majority of his career. Consistent young defender Sammy DeVito was shifted to left back with Arthur Tsirtsakis deployed in his customary right back role. In the centre of the park youngster Evan Karavitis retained his position partnering George Tzirtis with Scot MacNicol seemingly playing on the right of midfield but given the freedom to drift in when necessary.

Both Moraes and Kosta Salapasidis were given roaming roles supporting Koutsoupias, with Salapasidis in particular often drifting back into midfield to help out defensively.

The game started out rather scrappily with South comfortably dominating possession but not being able to create a decent opening. After it was reported during the week that Frankston coach Stan Webster had left the club, Webster managed to work out terms mid-week to take his place on the Pine’s bench.

Tactically, Webster sent out his men to soak up the South play, trying to make the game as scrappy as possible so the home side would fail to find their rhythm. This approached worked initially but was somewhat ironically undone when South’s first genuine attack resulted in the home side taking the lead.

DeVito had been released down the left flank making a quality overlapping run. The young defender had a quick look up and sent in a perfectly weighted 16th minute centre that picked out a late darting run into the centre of the box by Koutsoupias who with a text book – angled – header from 6 or so yards gave South the lead.

South had two other half decent chances for the rest of the half. The first fell to MacNicol in the 27th minute after the midfielder saw the ball fortunately fall for him after Salapasidis had chased back and smothered a clearance. Just outside the box, MacNicol made some space for himself and sent a floating right foot effort just wide with the Frankston custodian taking no risks and at full stretch.

The last chance of the half fell to Tzirtis after he was released down the left side of the Frankston box and unleashed a decent 35th minute effort that the Frankston keeper managed to parry away.

Two minutes into the 2nd half Coach Anastasiadis replaced Tsirtsakis with Tavsancioglu, allowing for DeVito to switch to right back with Tavsancioglu taking up his usual left back role.

With 49 minutes gone South doubled their advantage. Moraes had sent a corner deep into the heart of the Frankston box. A scramble ensued with “fox-in-the-box” Koutsoupias on hand to slam home the loose ball from 6 or so yards out. It was the ex-Whittlesea striker’s 4th goal of the season, all of which have come from within the 18-yard area.

Frankston’s first meaningful attack came in the 55th minute after a hopeful long ball evaded O’Dor allowing for a Frankston player to whistle his way in behind the South defence only to be let down by his finish which failed to test Anastasiadis, going well over the bar.

Then in the 57th minute, Koutsoupias almost had his hat trick after a miss kick from the right saw a potential cross loop its way towards the keeper. Koutsoupias had turned his back expecting the keeper to glove easily above his head but the ball was spilt and trickled dangerously near the goal line. The powerfully built South striker failed to react quickly enough to pounce with the Pines defence eventually clearing.

Frankston created another half chance in the 62nd minute after a deep ball to the back post saw a Pine’s player fail to keep his header down, once again failing to test Anastasiadis.

Just when Anastasiadis’s men appeared to be coasting to a comfortably victory, the Pines threw a spanner in the works when an 83rd minute free kick from the right-edge of the South penalty area saw keeper Anastasiadis totally misjudge the ball, coming out to punch and succeeding in only punching air. The ball fell to the back post where the opportunistic William Armour was on hand to slide the ball home and give the Pines a lifeline.

Two minutes later Moraes should’ve iced the game after a superb exchange of passes down the right saw the Brazilian played in diagonally with only the keeper the beat. A well placed side-foot finish was all that was required with Moraes somehow managing to miscue, hitting the outside of the left upright with the Pine’s custodian well beaten.

Football is a funny game and Moraes added further truth to this iconic saying putting aside his gapping miss 3 minutes earlier to produce a contender for goal of the season in the 88th minute.

South had a foul roughly 25 yards out and on a slight angle that favoured a right-footer. Moraes took charge of situation and deliberated for a moment deciding what action to take. Frankston had initially tried to put a man on the line but removed him after the South attack pushed forward. Sensing his opportunity Moraes unleashed a stunning free kick which curled into the top right-hand corner. The Pines keeper was powerless to prevent the strike from sailing in as Moraes tapping into his Brazilian roots, curled the ball with such wicked precision that all the Frankston keeper could do was pick the ball out of the back of the net.

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