South Melbourne FC

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Heidelberg v South Melbourne – Match Report

Heidelberg v South Melbourne – Match Report

Monday, 12 September 2005 12:05 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

South Melbourne’s expectation defying season has come to an end after a solitary first half goal from Heidelberg midfielder Nick Sabljak was enough to see the Bergers through to the 2005 Vodafone Premier League Grand Final.

A match that many wished had occurred on the final day of the season was forced into a 30 minute delay after a stream of late arriving supporters formed a seemingly endless que just before kick-off, all the more phenomenal when one considers the poor weather no doubt kept thousands more at home.

With Con Blatsis missing through injury, Coach John Anastasiadis handed promising youngster Steven O’Dor a start in the centre of defence alongside the giant frame of Arthur Tsonis. Fellow youngsters Sammy DeVito and Ramazan took up their customary positions at right and left back respectively. In the centre of the park Arthur Tsirtsakis started in the anchor defensive midfield position with Kosta Salapasidis used as an attacking central midfielder. Out wide the silky skills of Fernando and the hard-working grit of Scott MacNicol were deployed on the right and left flanks leaving Captain Vaughan Coveny and Robbie Cattanach to lead the South frontline.

The game started somewhat patchy with both sides showing one another a great deal of respect. With so much on the line risk taking was kept minimal with two half-chance long range efforts from Heidelberg midfielder Eric Vassiliadis in the 4th and 13th minute, which both failed to hit the target, the only efforts on goal early on.

Sixteen minutes in and Salapasidis found himself in some space in the centre of the park. The ex-Parramatta player advanced forward and proceeded to unleash a strike that went well over Heidelberg custodian Lou Acevski’s crossbar.

In the 19th minute ex-South wingback Fausto De Amicis played in the leggy Yusef Yusef down the left flank. Yusef used some of his eye-catching trickery to cut inside and skip past his nearest South marker, eventually managing to unleash a low drive from just outside the box that Anastasiadis managed to cleanly glove down low.

Three minutes later and a square ball from the South midfield was misjudged by DeAmicis allowing for the alert Moraes to latch onto the error down the right flank near the edge of the Heidelberg box. Fernando attempted to shoot just as De Amicis was trying to close him down but unfortunately for South his attempt was heavily sliced, failing to test the keeper.

A South defensive lapse proved costly when a seemingly standard ball from defence to the centre of park was miscontrolled, allowing for the Bergers to seize possession deep in South’s defensive half. The error forced a dangerous foul 20 or so yards out from South’s goalmouth. Up stepped Nick Sabljak who attempted a placed curling effort that cannoned straight back to him off the South defensive wall. Sabljak however kept his head, controlling once and then unleashing a venomous 29th minute low drive from the edge of the area that rocketed past Anastasiadis and gave the Bergers the lead not to mention the all important psychological edge.

South failed to respond with their only decent attack of the first half arriving in the 41st minute after some slick work down the right flank by Fernando saw the Brazilian deliver a decent cross that the Heidelberg defence failed to convincingly clear. The bobbling clearance fell to Tsirtsakis who from the edge of the box couldn’t direct his volleyed attempt accurately enough to test Acevski.

Seconds before the half-time whistle Heidelberg produced a quality free-kick from 30 or so yards out. Heading straight for the bottom right corner, Anastasiadis did superbly well to shift his weight and produce a diving save to his left to keep South only a goal down at the interval.

Coach Anastasiadis had to make some changes at half time after South produced a totally in-effective first half display. On came Natsioulas for Tsirtsakis with MacNicol dropping into the centre of the park whilst Fernando shifted to the left flank and Natsioulas took up his customary position on the right.

The second half was only 3 minutes old when a shocking piece of miscommunication between Tsonis and Anastasiadis saw the ever alert Marinos pounce. Tsonis had played the ball back to the South keeper who hadn’t been expecting the ball. As a result, Anastasiadis scuffed his clearance with Marinos managing to intercept. Fortunately for South, the diminutive striker’s attempt was straight at Anastasiadis who gloved easily.

South came close to an equaliser after 52 minutes when NSW Premier League player of the year Robbie Cattanach found some space down the left hand side of the Heidelberg box. Cattanach sent an angle drive towards the bottom right corner that Heidelberg keeper Lou Acevski did superbly well to get a foot too, managing to slightly deflect the ball, but getting enough contact to see it past the upright.

Fifty-four minutes in and South seemingly had claims for a penalty. A nice interchange of passes down the left flank by Salapasidis and Fernando saw Salapasidis sneak into the edge of the Heidelberg area. As Salapasidis was motioning for a cross a thunderous challenge by the Bergers defence came in seemingly catching Salapisidis who stayed down for a while. However, in referee Perry Mur’s defence, there had been many similar incidents throughout the encounter with Mur no doubt choosing to approach the game in a slightly lenient yet consistent manner.

South’s earlier defensive lapse failed to be taken on board after more mucking about in the backline saw Marinos once again dispossess the South defence in the 56th minute. Marinos narrowed in on goal with seemingly only Anastasiadis to beat but as he was about to unleash, a scurrying South defence managed to put just enough pressure on him to make his eventual effort ill-directed, failing to test Anastasiadis.

In the space of 4 minutes South saw the game flash before their eyes. Firstly a Coveny break down the right saw the Kiwi international deliver a quality ball into the Heidelberg box. The ball was heavily contested but eventually fell to Fernando who from 10 yards out sent his angled 58th minute volley crashing into the crossbar with Acevski well beaten.

Then in the 62nd minute, a South strike from outside the box was clearly handled by a Heidelberg defender with referee Mur showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Up stepped Fernando who produced a low, yet unconvincing side-foot effort that Acevski picked and saved superbly well to his left. One could not help but feel that Fernando’s effort was just a bit too casual for the occasion, the lack of attempt to fool the keeper proved costly, with the vastly experienced Acevski easily guessing the right way.

Heidelberg had been rattled and no doubt tried to step up a gear in the hope of burying the game. Two decent chances were created in the space of two minutes with the first effort a 65th minute angled drive from the left hand side that narrowly trickled past Anastasiadis left upright. The second notable chance saw a venomous 67th minute Sabljak free kick from the right cause the South defence all sorts of trouble with an effort eventually directed towards South’s goal only for DeVito to clear off the line.

South were still pushing forward and a 79th minute Natsioulas cross from the right saw Coveny rise and produce a solid header that Acevski did well to parry out for a corner.

Marinos then had two golden chances to ice the game. The first arrived in the 80th minute after a quality low cross from the right was latched onto by the lunging Bergers’ front-man who just failed to keep his effort under the crossbar. Then 87 minutes in, the ex-Oakleigh striker found himself one-on-one with O’Dor. Marinos intelligently kept the ball close to his feet, waiting for the right moment to slip the ball past the South defender. When the moment arrived Marinos found himself with only Anastasiadis to beat but saw his powerful effort cannon back off the crossbar.

South almost snatched an equaliser late on when a cross from the right was unconvincingly cleared and fell to Natsioulas. The South youngster got hold of a well placed volleyed attempt that unfortunately was blocked a metre or so in front of the goal-line with Acevski struggling to make ground.

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