Sunday, 5 February 2006 10:14 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne has performed a “great escape” scoring two goals in injury time to claim a triumphant 0-2 victory against bitter rivals Heidelberg United to get their 2006 Vodafone Cup season off to a superb start.
A 92nd minute headed goal by Ivory Coast defender Saly Jonas as well as superb 94th minute chip by Tansel Baser saw John Anastasiadis’s men capitalize on their second half domination and bring the elusive 3 points against the Bergers back to Lakeside.
After exciting pre-season signing Kevin Nelson was told literally minutes before the kick-off that his clearance had yet to be rubber stamped, South coach John Anastasiadis was forced to tinker with his lineup.
Anastasiadis brought in Peter Koutsoupias to replace Nelson with the ex-Whittlesea striker asked to do a selfless job in attack by running all day and trying to put pressure on the Heidelberg defence.
The rest of the South lineup consisted of Dean Anastasiadis in goal, a defensive quarter consisting of Con Blatsis and Arthur Tsonis as the central pairing with Saly Jonas and Ramazan playing in the right and left back positions respectively. South chose to flood the midfield region with Tansel Baser, Scot MacNicol and Arthur Tsirtsakis all having central roles with youngster Evan Karavitis and outstanding Brazilian Fernando playing on the right and left flanks with Peter Koutsoupias playing a lone role up front.
A dour first half in which Heidelberg edged proceedings saw the Bergers keep the ball better than South and create the half’s best opening. In the 9th minute, diminutive striker Nick Marinos managed to latch onto a long searching through ball, beating the offside trap and with South keeper Dean Anastasiadis in his sights, the scurrying South defence managed to recover enough ground to force Marinos to sky his attempt over the crossbar.
South also had a fluttering moment in the 28th minute after a defensive mix-up between Tsonis and Blatsis saw both defenders misjudge their attempted headed clearances allowing for the Bergers to get in behind the South defence. Thankfully for South the superb covering play of Ramazan prevented Anastasiadis having to make a save, with Ramazan closing down for a corner.
In the second half, South coach John Anastasiadis took off Evan Karavitis and replaced him with the busy George Tzirtis and almost immediately, South started to stamp their authority on the game.
South began to threaten and some nice interplay from the visitors down the right saw a 60th minute MacNicol cross nodded wide by Blatsis who found himself unmarked in the Heidelberg box but stretching to make contact with the ball.
The visitors trapped Heidelberg in their defensive half in an intense final 20 minute period, with experienced South players Con Blatsis and Tansel Baser beginning to boss proceedings with superb support from the likes of Scot MacNicol and the incredibly sharp Brazilian Fernando.
Seventy-one minutes in and a superb run down the left by Ramazan saw the wing-back cut the ball back for Blatsis who proceeded to attempt a volleyed snapshot, unfortunately for the visitors Blatsis failed to connect cleanly with Acevski easily gloving.
Baser then proceeded to miss two guilt-edged chances. The first arrived in the 75th minute after a free kick by Fernando wasn’t convincingly cleared by the Heidelberg defence with the ball falling to MacNicol who unleashed a low drive that worked its way through a sea of legs only to fall to Baser who from 4 yards out sent his side footed effort wide.
Then in the 84th minute, a superb searching long ball from defence saw Baser played in behind the Heidelberg backline, only for the midfielders first touch to severely let him down when a good touch would’ve left him with a relatively easy side-foot finish.
A 91st minute goal-mouth scramble saw Con Blatsis’ lunging attempt from point blank range hastily cleared by a desperate Heidelberg defence. From the resulting corner a superbly timed late run into the box by Saly Jonas saw the powerful Ivory Coast native tower over everybody and send a powerful header into the back of the net to the delight of the 3-4 thousand South fans who made the journey to Olympic Village.
Heidelberg almost immediately replied when Adelaide recruit Saranti Parissos latched onto a searching long through ball that caught the South defence pushed far too up the field, Parissos’s touch was decent but his final attempt, an angled drive across the face of Anastasiadis’s goalmouth, was solidly gloved by the South custodian.
From the resulting goal kick, Baser caught a tired Bergers defence napping, working his way in behind and spotting Heidelberg custodian Lou Acevski slightly off his line.
Baser then proceeded to unleash a brilliant and delicate 94th chip that caught Acevski by surprise with the Berger keeper only able to watch as the ball sailed over his head and into the bottom right corner, to the sheer delight of Baser and the tremendous traveling South support.