South Melbourne FC

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Oakleigh v South Melbourne – Friendly Match Report

Oakleigh v South Melbourne – Friendly Match Report

Monday, 9 January 2006 11:35 AM

By Michael Tsoukalis

South Melbourne have lost their first pre-season friendly after a late counter-attack by the Oakleigh Cannons saw ex-NSL journeyman and Fijian international Esala Masi send his angled drive past the outstretched arms of South keeper Con Dimitropoulos.

South coach John Anastasiadis continues to use the pre-season as a chance to monitor the progress of the returning players from last season as well as continuing to trial a number of potential acquisitions.

Anastasiadis sent out a reasonably strong South outfit with veteran custodian Dean Anastasiadis in goal, a central pairing of Steven O’Dor and Arthur Tsonis with the right and left back positions taken up by Evan Karavitis and recently promoted Under-21 South player-of-the-season Lester Abalos. In the centre of the park the returning Tansel Baser took up the defensive holding role with Arthur Tsirtsakis alongside him in a more attacking role. On the left wing Peter Koutsoupias was deployed with George Tzirtis on the right. Up front Kevin Nelson took up an out-and-out striking role with Brazilian Fernando Moraes given licence to play in the hole behind Nelson.

Both sides seemed evenly matched with Oakleigh slightly edging the proceedings after an early chance fell to beanpole strike Peter Kakos who, from just outside the South box, failed to test Anastasiadis with no real defensive pressure.

New Oakleigh signing Cameron Pino was having a field day down the left wing and it was his quality ball into the heart of the South area from a set piece that nearly put Oakleigh ahead. Pino’s centre was sharply nodded down only for the ever-alert reflexes of Anastasiadis to quickly kick into gear with the premier keeper of the 2005 VPL season saving with his feet.

South then took the lead in the most unexpected fashion. Abalos keen to impress made a good run down the left, cut inside and fed the ball to Nelson, who from the edge of the box, rifled an 20 yard “daisy-cutter” comfortably past the outstretched arm of Oakleigh custodian Stuart Webster. It was the most unexpected of finishes but highlighted Nelson’s immense potential and finishing prowess.

The Trinidad and Tobago youth international nearly added to his tally late in the 2nd half after again being fed on the edge of the area, Nelson produced a sharp turn to create a yard of space, with his eventual strike forcing Webster low to glove.

Oakleigh however managed to equalise late in the half, after the ever dangerous Pino got in behind the South defence down the left hand side and sent an angled drive towards goal that Anastasiadis looked to have superbly saved, only for the ball to continue rolling towards the goal line. Anastasiadis tried desperately to parry away, getting his hands a further 2 times to the ball only for the bumpy ground and ball watching defenders to combine to see South cop a comical equaliser with Anastasiadis failing to cleanly glove.

The 2nd half saw coach Anastasiadis send out a completely different unit. Youngsters such as Gianni DeNittis, James Stefanou, Tex Apostolikas summoned from his loan with Altona Phoenix, under-21 defender Ralph Napoli, recent signing Andrew Bourakis, reserve keeper Con Dimitropoulos and two defensive trialists took the field.

Considering the makeshift nature of the South line-up coach Anastasiadis would be heartened with just how well the defence held up.

South managed to limit Oakleigh from creating clear-cut chances with Dimitropoulos managing to hold onto any ball that was coming into the box.

Furthermore, Fernando Moraes was bossing the midfield, looking to always push forward and have a shot at goal. A feat which he managed a couple times however he failed to test Webster.

Unfortunate then was the late sucker-punch South conceded with virtually the last kick of the game. Masi was released in acres of space down the right hand side in what appeared to be clear miscommunication amongst the makeshift backline. The Fijian international took a touch to enter the box and then smashed his strike past Dimitropoulos and into the far left hand corner with what proved to be virtually the last kick of the game.

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