Monday, 18 July 2005 11:52 AM
By Mark van Aken
South Melbourne did everything but score a goal in yesterday’s heavy weight clash at Bob Jane Stadium. Green Gully defended tirelessly to deny the home side which attacked with frequency and ferocity, the game ending in a 0-0 draw.
South Melbourne has made an art of defending through out the 2005 VPL season; however it was in attack that the 4 time national champions looked ever so potent in this clash. John Anastasiadis’ game plan was evident from the kick off – go forward and attack at every opportunity.
South were dominant in the first 20 minutes, while Green Gully barely entered their own half. The blue and white went forward with great frequency, earning no less than 8 corners in the opening 20 minutes.
While Rob Cattanach and Fernando Moraes were causing plenty of head aches for the ladder leaders defence, Sam De Vito was enjoying the extended time in the attacking half with several shots on goal saved by Gully keeper Pasi Schwalger. Given the number of quality ball South enjoyed through out the game and resulting shots on target, Scwalger was clearly the best on ground in a largely beaten Green Gully side.
After a half hour of heat, Green Gully manager Ian Dobson made a substitution. While it seemed forced upon him with Josip Rajher sporting a limp as he came off, the introduction of Andrew Marth brought almost instant success. Marth, clearly still in the process of getting fit after his return to the game, was only on the ground for a few minutes when his side went forward. He fell awkwardly in the box but still managed a shot on goal and a save by Dean Anastasiadis.
Of all the opportunities afforded South in the first half, the nearest they came to a goal was when Schwalger came well of his line to intercept a corner in the 39th minute. The ball hit the ground and rolled towards the home side’s goal. Marth managed to clear the ball off the goal line, but some of the South faithful thought that it may have crossed the line. Either way, South was unlucky to head into the break scoreless.
The second half saw Green Gully enjoy some more frequent time with the ball and, in patches, some of the form that has seen them lead the VPL for much of the season. There were two occasions where the visitors appeared to have genuine calls for hand ball in the penalty area, calls ignored by referee Perry Mur.
Markovski and Vassalo had good goal scoring chances but they were blocked by Rama Tavsancioglu and Anastasidis respectively. Salapasidis replaced Dinse mid way through the second half and, while less potent as the match wore on, South still enjoyed some excellent opportunities.
After playing some of their best football for the season, South had to settle for a point. It will be mixed emotions for the side. The positive is that they know that after an indifferent month, they can control games against the leagues top sides. The negative is clearly the inability to find the back of the net with countless opportunities to do so.
The continued improvement of Moraes and Cattanach in the middle of the park, as well as skipper Vaughan Coveny’s adjustment to his new role sitting behind the strikers, holds South in good stead. Blatsis’ control at the back, as well as De Vito and MacNicol’s ability to hold their own defensively and cause problems in attack, see the blue and white shaping as a genuine threat come the finals.
For now South sits in third with this weeks clash against the ever improving Preston Lions looming large. Fans are reminded that the game at Preston, as decreed by the FFV, is limited to Preston Lions members only. NO GENERAL ADMISSION PATRONS WILL BE PERMITTED.
South Melbourne: Dean Anastasiadis, Arthus Tsonis, Sam De Vito, Con Blatsis, Vaughan Coveny, Arthur Tsirtsakis, Ryan Dinse (Kosta Salapasidis 60’), Rama Tavsancioglu, Fernando Moraes, Rob Cattanach, Scott MacNicol
Subs not used: Steve O’dor, Evan Karavitis, James Stafanou, Mladen Tosic
Green Gully: Pasi Schwalger, Dragi Nastevski, Dean Fak, Roddy Vargas, Zoran Markovski, Josip Rajher(Andrew Marth30’), Jeffrey Fleming, Phillip Riccobene, Nick Tsaltas, Brandon Vassallo, Andy Vargas
Subs not used: Matthew Dimech, Michael Batinovic, Ante Loncaric.
South Melbourne FC 0
Green Gully Cavaliers 0