Thursday, 28 July 2005 7:03 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
After a club inspiring win against the Preston Lions, South Melbourne return to Bob Jane Stadium looking to consolidate their position in the top 3.
A win for the home side will see John Anastasiadis’s men apply pressure on table-toppers Green Gully whilst Essendon face a must-win situation if they are to continue to sustain their push for a top-6 birth.
When the sides met in round 11 what appeared to be an easy victory for South turned into a nightmare. South had managed to obtain a comfortable 0-2 lead with 10 minutes to go only for the Royals to snatch three late goals and steal the spoils, leaving the travelling South contingent stunned.
South are boosted by the return of giant centre-back Arthur Tsonis who missed last week’s clash against Preston through suspension. Tsonis’s return is likely to be offset by the missing Rama Tavsancioglu who is off to Turkey for trials.
A cornerstone of South’s continuous stay near the top of the VPL has been its defence. Inspirational goalkeeper Dean Anastasiadis has been superb all season long, his consistency and shot stopping ability a feature of his performances. Anastasiadis however has been backed by a versatile defence which has featured no less than 7 players this season. The versatility of the likes of Steven O’Dor and Sammy DeVito, not mention Evan Karavitis filling in at right-back last week, has allowed Coach Anastasiadis to alter his defence with confidence in times of need.
However, the Albert Park-based club continue to struggle up front with their last 4 games yielding only a solitary goal. New acquisition Robbie Cattanach has shown himself to have a quality touch and is slowly starting to find his feet. Coach Anastasiadis does however have many options in regards to rotating his frontline. The out-of-form Kosta Salapasidis has a large pedigree – particularly in his younger days – of playing up front, whilst the pace and in-box menace of Peter Koutsoupias has produced 4 goals this season.
Conversely, Essendon have severely dented their finals aspirations after only managing to pickup a point in their past three encounters. The recent sacking of Coach Michael Michalakopoulos seems to have coincided with the Royals downturn in form.
Essendon however do remain dangerous. In ex-South front-man Michael Curcija they possess the league’s most potent striker with the ex-Partizan Belgrade player having bagged 12 goals to date. Ex-South player of the season (1999) Steve Iosifidis also makes a return to his former hunting ground, Iosifidis is fondly remembered at BJS for his dogged displays and consistency, characteristics which he has managed to reproduce for Essendon this season.