Friday, 2 September 2005 12:19 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
After a convincing 3-0 win in the first round of the finals against Altona, South Melbourne makes the trek to Green Gully Reserve for an encounter which will see the winner earn a place in the 2005 Vodafone Premier League Grand Final.
Spurred on by the vocal and passionate Clarendon Corner, John Anastasiadis’s men arguably produced the performance of season in disposing of the Magic and will look to tap into the same form when coming up against the Minor Premiers.
Gully coach Ian Dobson has once again managed to fashion a side which prides itself on playing tight at the back whilst managing to nip the vital goal when going forward.
Season after season Gully has prided itself on consistency, focussing on keeping the same core group of players together whilst raiding the transfer market for 2-3 additional quality players.
The Vargas brothers, Nick Tsaltas, Dean Fak, Andrew Marth, Dragi Nastevki, Joey Rajher, Lubo Lapsanky and Michael Batinovic have all played in the NSL and provide the Cavaliers with a level of experience that few teams in the VPL can match. Add to the mixture the giant frame of ex-Preston keeper Pasi Schwalger, who has displayed a level of consistency in between the uprights that few keepers in the league can match, and Gully have a well balanced and potent outfit.
Tsaltas and the Vargas brothers in particular will have to be closely monitored with these 3 contributing 21 (7 apiece) of Green Gully’s 31 goals during the regular season.
In the South camp Coach John Anastasiadis has got his side playing confident and attacking football at the right time of the season. South’s new attacking edge has been rewarded with 8 goals in their last three games, perhaps not the most spectacular of returns but by far a massive improvement for a team who only managed, on average, a goal or so per game in the regular season.
Instrumental to South’s improved efforts in front of goal has been the emergence of New South Welshmen Robbie Cattanach. After a much heralded arrival to Bob Jane Stadium, the NSW Premier League Player of the Year initially struggled to settle in. However, Cattanach has come good when the stakes have been at their highest, showing his true value by nipping in with 3 vital goals in the past three encounters.
With Cattanach a threat South’s general attacking play has improved as the angst of not being able to convert a host of chances has suddenly been lifted from the side. This has resulted in improved service and generally, a higher level of confidence and fluency in the team’s offensive raids.
Finally, Coach Anastasiadis has also been blessed with injuries. With practically a full squad to choose from it is re-assuring to know that there are likely to be players on the bench who can make a vital difference if and when called upon.