Saturday, 18 February 2006 12:47 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
A clinical Kingston City has ended South Melbourne’s perfect start to the 2006 Vodafone Cup season with a resounding 3-0 win at Grange Reserve.
Two goals from close range in the first half by Joe Spiteri and Joey Di Iorio broke the visitors’ spirit with Spiteri putting the icing on the cake with a late third.
South coach John Anastasiadis chose to change his lineup from last week, dropping Arthur Tsirtsakis from midfield and handing a start to Peter Koutsoupias.
Tsirtsakis’s demotion meant that South played the game with a clear 4-4-2. Dean Anastasiadis was once again in goals with the back four unchanged. Arthur Tsonis partnered Con Blatsis in the heart of the defence with Rama Tavsancioglu and Ivory Coast native Jonas Salley playing left and right back respectively.
In the centre of the park Tansel Baser and Scot MacNicol played in the defensive and attacking midfield roles whilst Brazilian Fernando Moraes and youngster Evan Karavitis where planted on the left and right flanks.
Up-front Peter Koutsoupias and Trinidad and Tobago excitement machine Kevin Nelson formed South’s attacking frontline.
The game had barely begun when Kingston got off to a dream start. South conceded a dangerous free-kick just outside their box with Kingston’s Jim Latinopoulos producing a quality strike headed for the bottom left corner. Anastasiadis managed to get a glove to it but failed to parry it away with the ball falling to ex-Melbourne Knights front-man Joe Spiteri who from 6 yards out made no mistake, smashing the ball into an empty net to hand Kingston the lead in the 2nd minute.
South where stung into action and began dominating general play. Five minutes in Kingston custodian Michael Turnbull failed to glove a 25 yard effort from Fernando with Koutsoupias failing to anticipate the rebound, allowing the Kingston defence to clear for a corner.
Then in the 9th minute a South throw in was pounced on by Nelson who turned and unleashed a stinging drive from outside the box that Turnbull did well to save for a corner.
South should’ve equalized in the 26th minute after a quality cross from the right by Karavitis saw Turnbull misjudge the flight of the ball and fail to glove or punch it away. The ball fell to Baser who nodded towards goal finding Nelson who from 2 yards out seemed to head the ball away as if he was defending as opposed to nodding home, when the latter appeared the easier task.
South were then dealt a major blow when inspirational defender Con Blatsis went off with an injury. After receiving treatment the South colossus couldn’t return with George Tzirtis taking his place.
Thirty-four minutes in and Kingston scored the goal that broke South’s back. Against the run of play a corner from the right-hand side wasn’t convincingly cleared by South with the ball eventually falling to unmarked ex-Werder Bremen youth player Joey Di Iorio who from 8 or so yards out smashed it past Anastasiadis.
Tzirtis almost replied immediately after he unleashed a spectacular 30 yard effort that was destined for the top right-hand corner, only for the long reach of Turnbull to scurry back and glove at the second attempt.
South began the 2nd half with young-gun Gianni De Nittis replacing Kevin Nelson. Nelson had certainly been livelier than his strike partner Koutsoupias, so perhaps the substitution was injury related.
The visitors where out of the blocks immediately when a good chance in the 47th minute fell to MacNicol who had a decent ball played into his feet, but unfortunately, his less favoured left foot saw his shot from just outside the box sail way wide.
Spiteri then nearly wrapped up proceedings when he worked a decent angle for himself in the 51st minute only for his strike to trickle narrowly past the left-hand upright.
Fifty-nine minutes in and Tzirtis again nearly scored with a rocket-like effort, this time the busy South midfielder saw his drive from just outside the Kingston box smash into an unknowing defender in the 6-yard area with goalkeeper Turnbull well beaten.
Kingston had caught the eye all night with their counter-attacking football and it was on the counter in the 63rd minute that Kingston nearly got a third. The “Reds” as they like to be called broke down the right with a quality ball supplied into the heart of the South box. Ex-South striker Michael Curcija found himself un-marked and with a relatively simply header, however, Curcija couldn’t direct his effort either side of Anastasiadis with the South keeper comfortably gloving.
The game continued with South dominating possession but failing to produce a telling final ball to create a decent opening with Kingston’s experienced defence comfortably absorbing any threat.
Kingston then wrapped up proceedings when a seemingly harmless searching ball into the edge of the South box in the 81st minute saw Spiteri easily outmuscle Salley and then proceed to intelligently beat Anastasiadis on his near post with a side-footed effort.
It was a goal which summarized South performance, a game in which they dominated possession but lacked any real cutting edge with Kingston showing their quality by punishing three costly mistakes.