South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

South goes into finals with a 3 goal burst

South goes into finals with a 3 goal burst

Sunday, 21 August 2005 11:45 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

South Melbourne has completed a superb regular season campaign with a gritty 3-1 win against the Bentleigh Greens.

John Anastasiadis’s men finished a credible third, one point adrift of the 2nd placed Heidelberg United who along with Green Gully have qualified for the automatic double chance.

Looking ahead to the finals Coach Anastasiadis fielded a vastly changed line-up. Skipper Vaughn Coveny and defenders Sammy DeVito and Arthur Tsonis were given the day off in order to rest up for the business end of the season whilst regular attacking midfielder Scot MacNicol began proceedings on the bench.

South’s starting eleven read as follows. Dean Anastasiadis took up his customary position in between the uprights. In front of him colossal defender Con Blatsis returned to action being partnered in the centre of defence by youngster Steve O’Dor. Another youngster, James Stefanou was given his senior debut lining up in a right back role with the spirited Ramazan playing on the left. In the centre of the park Arthur Tsirstakis assumed the defensive midfield responsibilities with Kosta Salapasidis in a more attacking central role. Silky Brazilian Fernando started on the left allowing for the return of exciting youngster Vasilios Natsioulas on the right. Up front, another youngster, Gianni De Nittis provided support for New South Welshman Robbie Cattanach.

South began with a bang and took the lead in the 6th minute. In what was the home side’s first real attack of the day, a break down the right by Natsioulas saw the youngster spot an unmarked Fernando run down the right. Natsioulas squared the ball to the Brazilian who with only the keeper to beat produced a quality, bottom-right hand corner finish to give South the early initiative.

Two minutes later and the home side nearly doubled their advantage after a scramble in the box saw the ball fall to Cattanach who managed to produce a well placed side-foot effort that had the Bentleigh keeper beaten but was fortunately cleared off the line by a well positioned Bentleigh defender.

Twenty-one minutes in and a comical error saw the home side double their advantage. What looked like a harmless searching ball from defence saw a breakdown in communication between the Bentleigh keeper and the defender responsible for dealing with the header. As the keeper raced off his line (to deal with the clearance) the defender attempted to head the ball in the direction of the keeper who in the middle of his advancement was caught wrong-footed with the ball eventually trickling into the net.

To Bentleigh’s credit however their response was swift. A ball down the right hand side saw the South defence break down in communication with Nigerian Izvunna Chukwuka latching onto the defensive lapse and finding himself with only Anastasiadis to beat. Chukwuka kept his head and calmly slotted under Anastasiadis who managed to get some of his body onto the ball but far from enough to prevent the strike from reducing the Greens’ deficit.

The goal seemed to lift the Greens who were now appearing more organised and harder to break down with their efforts almost paying off when just before half time, a darting strike from just outside the box and slightly from a right angle, forced a superb left-hand diving save by Anastasiadis.

With the 2nd half underway South almost conceded a disastrous goal. Anastasiadis scuffed a left foot 46th minute clearance that fell to Chukwuka who with the keeper vastly off his line attempted a delicate chip. With the ball appearing destined for the back of the net, Anastasiadis went into over drive, scurrying back and managing to time his dived effort to perfection, punching the ball just over the crossbar and out for a corner whilst at the same time, narrowly managing to avoid hitting his head.

Youngster Nick Curtis had come on at half-time with his enthusiasm almost reaping a goal. Playing in an advanced midfield role Curtis unleashed a 20 yard rocket-like effort in the 50th minute that narrowly sailed over the crossbar.

South were starting to regain momentum with a surging 52nd minute run down the left by “Rambo” Ramazan seeing the inspirational South right-back enter the Bentleigh box in a menacing position. Unfortunately for the home side Ramazan failed to pick out a target with his eventual cross evading everyone.

Four minutes later Natsioulas found himself released down the right hand side of the Bentleigh box with the former Melbourne Knight’s player well positioned for an angled-strike. However, Natsioulas’s final effort lacked accuracy with the ball trickling wide.

Bentleigh refused to throw in the towel and continued to create chances going almost “blow-for-blow” with the home side. A 61st minute curling strike from outside the box initially troubled Anastasiadis who gloved at the 2nd attempt.

Two minutes later Brazilian Fernando had a well placed free-kick cleared off the line after he had adjusted his technique mid run-up. It appeared Fernando was to attempt a curling effort only for the Brazilian to try and emulate his compatriot Roberto Carlos with a full blooded drive that made its way through the wall but not past the Bentleigh defender positioned on the back post.

Bentleigh again responded in the 65th minute when a shot on the turn forced Anastasiadis to parry away for a corner.

South then iced the game when a 67th minute cross from the left found an unmarked Cattanach deep in the Bentleigh box. Cattanach controlled well and then proceeded to slam the ball home with authority, piercing the bottom left hand corner for his 2nd goal in consecutive outings.

Three-one down yet the Greens continued to be unfazed. Seventy-six minutes in a dribble at the top of the South box saw a Bentleigh player skim past a couple of South defenders. As he entered the box a decent angled strike was produced with a scurrying South defence managing to slice the ball off the line.

Anastasiadis was then forced into two sharp consecutive saves. The first one was a tip over from a 78th minute free-kick whilst a minute later the South custodian produced the save of the game managing to get to a strike from outside the box at full stretch.

South then ended the game with four decent chances. The first arrived in the 82nd minute after nice interplay between Cattanach and Ramazan saw Cattanach attempt a top-corner placed curler on the edge of the Bentleigh box that sailed narrowly wide of the intended destination.

A minute later and substitute Scot MacNicol found himself with acres of space in the middle of the park. MacNicol ran to the right flank and produced a decent cross that was met by Cattanach who unfortunately failed to direct his header either side of the keeper who managed to comfortably glove.

Eighty-Seven minutes in and an overlapping Stefanou broke down the right. His subsequent low cross saw legs fly in around the Bentleigh mini-box with South failing to turn the ball home.

Finally, a 93rd minute close range header by Con Blatsis was saved by the Bentleigh keeper after a MacNicol ball from the right found the unmarked colossus all alone and 6 yards out. Blatsis should’ve done better with the giant defender failing to convincingly place his header. Moments later referee Giuseffi whistled for the end of play.

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