Sunday, 7 August 2005 11:00 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne has suffered a disappointing 0-1 defeat against Oakleigh in a game that once again highlighted the home side’s inability to put the ball in the back of the net.
An early counter by the Cannons which saw prolific premier league marksman Peter Kakos nod home a 2nd minute opener proved ultimately enough to give Stuart Munro’s men the points.
Coach John Anastasiadis made a couple of changes to his starting eleven from the previous week. Ramazan, returning from trials in Turkey, was brought straight back into the back four taking up a place in a central defensive partnership with Arthur Tsonis. Ramazan’s inclusion meant the unfortunate and surprise benching of star youngster Steven O’Dor with Evan Karavitis holding onto his right-back role. Fellow youngster Sammy DeVito played in the left-back role with the ever reliable Dean Anastasiadis in goal. In the centre of the park Tsirtsakis and MacNicol continued in the defensive and attacking midfield roles respectively with Kosta Salapasidis coming in on the left flank for Scotsman Ryan Dinse and Brazilian Fernando playing on the right. Up front Captain Vaughan Coveny continued his striking partnership with New South Welshmen Robbie Cattanach.
The game had barely begun when Oakleigh struck. Ex-South midfielder George Goutzioulis found some space on the left hand side and whipped in a quality back-post cross that was met by an unmarked Peter Kakos who comfortably nodded past Anastasiadis to give the Cannons a 2nd minute lead.
A few minutes later South almost responded when a Vaughan Coveny surge from midfield saw the South skipper find the free Fernando on the left hand side of the Oakleigh box. Fernando produced a decent left-foot strike which Cannon’s keeper Stuart Webster managed to save. From the rebound the ball almost fell into Fernando’s path with the ball eventually deflecting off the Brazilian and out for a corner.
The game then stagnated for the rest off the half. The rainy conditions didn’t provide the best platform for free-flowing football with the Cannons content to soak up as much pressure as possible. Fernando did however have a quality strike in the 43rd minute. The Brazilian – from just outside the area – unleashed a rocket-like effort that had Cannon’s custodian Webster scrambling but unfortunately for the home side, Fernando’s strike sailed just over the bar.
The 2nd half saw South try raise their tempo in hope of producing an equaliser. The Cannons however nearly extended their lead after a 51st minute corner saw an Oakleigh player rise above everyone to produce a looping angled header that had South keeper Anastasiadis scrambling. Fortunately for the home side the ball nestled on top of the South net.
Vasilios Natsioulas had replaced Kosta Salapasidis midway through the 1st half after the former Parramatta Power midfield/striker appeared to suffer a knee injury when turning on the ball. Though still underdone fitness wise after a horrific spell with glandula fever, Natsioulas added some much needed spark and guile out wide for South. In the 61st minute Natsioulas created some space down the right and whipped in a deep cross which Kiwi international Coveny did well to meet, but under severe pressure from the Oakleigh defence, the South skipper failed to direct his effort on target.
Continuing to play counter attack-based football the Cannons carved out a decent opening in the 68th minute after a quality cross from the right found an unmarked Cannons player again on the back-post. The subsequent header produced was a decent effort that was fortunately well read by Anatasiadis who had positioned himself superbly to glove easily.
Seventy-three minutes in and South could have been level after Scot MacNicol found himself on the edge of the Oakleigh box, slightly on the left, but without a defender in sight. MacNicol narrowed in on goal but seemed in two minds and ended up producing a wasteful shot/cross that sailed well over the Oakleigh crossbar.
Then after 83 minutes, a ball from the right was contested by South substitute Gianni DeNittis with the ball eventually falling to a totally unmarked Fernando. Fernando took the ball towards goal and positioned himself perfectly to curl the ball around Webster. Unfortunately for South, the silky Brazilian got way under the ball and lifted his effort considerably over the bar with the goal and Webster at his mercy.
South’s last notable chance for an equaliser arrived in the 86th minute after skipper Coveny received the ball near the top of the Oakleigh box. The South striker advanced a little and proceeded to unleash an angled drive aimed for the bottom left corner that had Webster at full stretch but unfortunately for the home side trickled just wide.