Sunday, 15 January 2006 11:49 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
A double and man-of-the-match performance by Tansel Baser has ensured South Melbourne a smooth progression to the quarter final stages of the Crazy John’s Cup.
In what was an attacking encounter, South went through periods of domination as well as periods of riding their luck before they eventually escaped with a 4-2 win.
Coach John Anastasiadis sent out a strong starting eleven with reserve keeper Con Dimitropoulos in goal, a central defensive pairing of Arthu1r Tsonis and Costa Rican Jonas Salley with Evan Karavitis and Under-21 player of the season Lester Abalos taking up the right and left-back positions respectively. In the centre of the park Tansel Baser continued to build his fitness and gain valuable playing time in a defensive midfield role whilst Scot MacNicol was deployed in a more attacking midfield role. On the flanks, Arthur Tsirtsakis played on the left whilst George Tzirtis played on the right with the front pairing of Fernando Moraes and new signing Kevin Nelson forming an imposing partnership with great technical ability.
Only one minute had passed when a brilliant searching ball down the left by Karavitis released Tzirtis into the Springvale box, Tzirtis passed his man and looked to square the ball for Nelson to tap in, but perhaps should’ve had a strike instead as the Springvale defence managed to recover and clear for a corner.
In the 8th minute a surging run through the centre of the park by Scot MacNicol saw the ex-Brechin player play in Baser, Baser then unleashed a decent 20 yard strike that was unfortunately straight at the keeper and hence failed to trouble Springvale custodian Dusan Janic.
South continued to create openings when in the 17th minute Moraes released Nelson down the left hand side of the Springvale box, the powerful striker attempted an angled drive but Janic saved well with his feet. A minute later Moraes produced a decent effort from just outside the box, slightly hooking his low drive past the right-hand post of Janic.
Twenty-seven minutes in and Nelson again was foiled by the feet of Janic after the Springvale keeper did well to save from point blank range. The ball eventually fell to Baser who from outside the box blazed over.
South continued to create openings with MacNicol releasing Moraes down the right in the 31st minute with the Brazilian working his way into the box and producing a disappointing strike, shooting well over the crossbar when a shot on goal was the minimum requirement from such a good opening.
Having absorbed a multitude of pressure Springvale were extremely unlucky to go behind. A 36th minute tentative long ball into the heart of the Springvale box by Tansel Baser was over hit and what appeared to be a regulation glove for Janic turned into a nightmare after the ball deviated very sharply upon bouncing, wrong footing Janic and eventually bobbling into the net.
South continued searching for the vital second goal with Tzirtis forcing a save after his 38th minute shot/lob nearly caught Janic out who was slightly off his line. From the resulting corner Salley found himself all alone at the back post and should’ve scored but failed to direct his header on target.
South extended its lead in the 41st minute after an exquisite finish from Moraes. Tzirtis battled hard for the ball in the box with the ball eventually falling to MacNicol who squared the ball to Moraes who with much to do, managed to produce a sharpish right-foot drive, beating Janic at his near post.
Two more glorious chances were spurned by the home side before the break with Nelson again being denied by the feet of Janic in the 43rd minute after breaking away down the right. A minute later a Tsonis corner was headed down and appeared to be handled on the line by the White Eagle’s defence with Janic well beaten.
Just before the break South conceded a disappointing goal. Springvale broke down the right in acres of space. A cross was produced to the back post with Leo Trebbia unmarked and South custodian Dimitropoulos ill-positioned. Trebbia produced a text-book header, comfortably beating Dimitropoulos and giving the White Eagles hope.
South started the 2nd half very shakily with Springvale seemingly rejuvenated after their late goal in the first half.
First a 50th minute strike from just outside the South box narrowly dipped over the South crossbar. Then two minutes later Springvale rattled South’s woodwork after a brilliantly struck 20 yard free-kick had Dimitropoulos well beaten.
South continued to live dangerously when a deep back-post cross from Springvale in the 54th minute saw a miscommunication in the South backline which nearly resulted in an own goal from Karavitis after a Springvale header deflected off the South youngster.
Fifty-five minutes in and Springvale striker Todd Miles latched onto a decent volleyed attempt that was saved well down low by Dimitropoulos.
Then against the run of play, South managed a third goal. Nelson was delicately played through and proceeded to round the keeper taking however a hard touch and hence pushing himself wide. To Nelson’s credit, he managed to stay composed, keep the ball in play, move towards goal and when most players would’ve had a strike, the former Canadian League top-scorer managed to pick out Baser on the back post for the easiest of tap-ins in the 59th minute.
After both sides missed genuine openings, Springvale managed to claw its way back into the contest when a long ball into the South box after 76 minutes, saw a calamity of errors ensue with the ball eventually deflecting into the back of the net in what appeared to be an own goal.
South finally put the game to rest in the 83rd minute after Moraes found some space in the middle of the park, played Nelson in down the left who received the ball and went into overdrive, easily sprinting past his marker and producing a calm left-foot finish across the keeper and into the bottom right-hand corner.