Saturday, 1 July 2006 8:55 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne returns to Bob Jane Stadium this weekend after a desperately unlucky two-all draw last week away to Preston.
John Anastasiadis’s men will be looking to continue their superb undefeated home form and at the same time consolidate a position in the top two.
Both sides met earlier in the season in a Round 5 encounter which saw a 49th minute equalizer from George Tzirtis earn South a deserved point after the visitors had gone behind via a goal from Solomon Islands international Henry Fa’Arodo.
Interestingly, South are yet to defeat the Royals since re-entering Victoria’s Premier State competition and will be eager to end the hoodoo against Dave Winton’s men.
Essendon may be without the electric pace of Fa’Arodo who is currently trialing with A-League outfit the Queensland Roar.
Fa’Arodo’s pace can cause any defence massive problems with his potential absence significantly decreasing the Essendon attacking threat.
From a standings perspective Essendon need the 3 points to put pressure on the top 6 whilst defeat could see them draw alarmingly near the relegation zone such is the relative closeness of this season’s competition.
In the South camp, Vasilios Natsioulas may be a chance of returning after injuring himself in training the day before the Preston game with his presence needed in order to cover a squad which has been decimated through injuries.
With central midfielder Antonio Naglieri and defensive colossus Con Blatsis still quite a way from returning to competitive action, players like Gianni DeNittis, Andrew Bourakis and exciting Under-21 player Jose Vasquez will have to step up and fill the void.
DeNittis did well out wide on the right last week against Preston showing good composure and ability to cope and contribute at this level and will no doubt be required to perform a similar role against the Royals.
South have piled on 17 goals in their last 4 home encounters playing a brand of entertaining and swashbuckling football that is a rare treat in such a tight and closely contested league.
Coach John Anastasiadis and the players have managed to go some way in returning the club back to the glory years where South Melbourne home games were considered an extremely intimidating proposition for any visiting team and will be in no mood to drop this regained aura against the Royals.