Thursday, 18 August 2005 5:54 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
Sunday marks the final round of the most successful Vodafone Premier League season to-date with South Melbourne still having much to play for.
Coming off a season-defining triumph away to the high-flying Fawkner-Whittlesea Azzurri, South face the already relegated Bentleigh Greens in a game where a win for the home side could see John Anastasiadis’s men catapulted into 2nd place and consequently secure the much coveted double-chance.
In a very even competition Bentleigh have proved to be the exception, finding themselves 7 points adrift their nearest rivals the Sunshine Georgies and the St. Albans Saints whilst carrying the unflattering record of having conceded the most amount of goals whilst having scored the least.
When the sides met in their Round 13 encounter, a dogged display by Bentleigh saw South struggle with the Albert Park-based club fortunate to escape with a 0-1 win after an opportunistic close-range finish from Peter Koutsoupias.
However, after struggling to find the back of the net and frustrating their loyal supporter base, South produced their performance of the season against Fawkner-Whittlesea on Monday night, galvanizing their faithful with a dominant and passionate display that saw the return to form of much-heralded signing Kosta Salapasidis and the opening goal in Robbie Cattanach’s South Melbourne career.
The positives from the Fawkner-Whittlesea game were many with South producing such a dominant display that the final score only sought to flatter the home side.
Injury wise, George Tzirtis and Con Blatsis are week-to-week propositions with both likely to return for South’s finals campaign. That said, the most encouraging sign for South continues to be the gradual re-introduction of talented winger Vasilios Natsioulas. The ex-Melbourne Knight’s youngster has provided a genuine spark with silky skills to match every time he has come off the bench since returning from his long bout of glandula fever.
Natsioulas will no doubt be approaching a call-up to the starting line-up taking up his place in one of the most talented centre-lines in the VPL, a centre-line which has strengthened since the continual emergence of Brazilian import Fernando Moraes and the re-introduction of Scot MacNicol in the attacking midfielder’s role.
Coach John Anastasiadis will no doubt encourage his charges to show little mercy against the Greens with South hopefully working on their finishing during the week in the hope of capitalising on the consistent stream of clear-cut chances the side has managed to create week-in-week out.