Sunday, 9 July 2006 8:09 PM
By George Kouroumalis
South has consolidated its position in second place of the Vodafone Cup after a comfortable 2-0 win over arch rivals, the Melbourne Knights at Knights Stadium on Sunday.
Due to injury and unavailability of key players, coach John Anastasiadis sent out a youthful looking South side to combat the Knights who had a point to prove after the 7-0 drubbing at Bob Jane Stadium in early June.
The changes from last week’s game against the Essendon Royals included Nick Curtis and Andrew Bourakis coming into the lineup , with Bourakis winning his first appearance in the starting lineup for the season.
Vaughan Coveny was dropped to the substitutes bench to the surprise of the traveling South faithful.
The lineup consisted of veteran Dean Anastasiadis in goals, with Tansel Baser, Dino Djulbic,Sam DeVito and Ramazan Tavsancioglu in defence just in front of him.
In the midfield Scott MacNicol and George Tzirtis were joined by youngsters Andrew Bourakis and Nick Curtis, who both were looking to impress.
Regular goalscorer Andeas Oliviera played a withdrawn role just behind Kevin Nelson, who seemed to be the only out and out striker on the park for the away side.
The game got off to a sluggish start, with both sides not really imposing themselves on the game in the early stages.
South however faced a hurdle only 4 minutes in, when Kevin Nelson went down with what looked to be a serious groin injury.
Fan favourtie Gianni De Nittis replaced the Trinidad and Tobago native, who looked devastated to have sustained such an injury.
The first real chance however fell in the 12th minute to the substitute De Nittis, who found himself in acres of space outside the area allowing him to try a curling shot at goal which was acrobatically saved by Knights keeper Adrian Cagalj, who tipped the ball over the bar.
South continued to dominate play and nearly got its reward in the 20th minute, when Nick Curtis burst through on the right hand side, only to launch a cracking volley only inches wide of the goal.
The youngsters of South continued to pepper the Knights goal, with Tavsancioglu sending a brilliant cross onto the head of De Nittis, who from 8 yards out managed to steer his clear wide of goal to the relief of the Knights faithful.
South then missed two point blank chances over, with Tzirtis and Andew Bourakis launching their efforts from inside the box well over the bar just before the half time break.
The second half provided South with almost immediate reward for their dominant display when the ball deflected into the path of De Nittis, who from just inside the area gave South the advantage, sending his volley into the back of the net.
The Knights, who had not mustered a genuine shot on goal in the game so far, looked shell shocked and were nearly made to pay for ball watching in the 51st minute, when De Nittis was once again left alone in the area after Curtis had played the ball into him.
Fortunately for the Knights, De Nittis steered his header straight into the arms of the waiting Cagalj.
In the 57th minute, the Knights were once again caught out in defence with MacNicol finding himself in hectares of space just outside the area and with only an advancing Cagalj to beat.
To the amazement of the traveling South faithful he opted to chip the keeper and bury the ball into the back of the net in what was possibly one of the goals of the Vodafone Cup season.
South nearly scored only a minute later, when Tzirtis found himself in space on the left hand side, only to drill a cross into the waiting De Nittis who once again had his headered shot saved by Cagalj.
As the game started to die down and reach an inevitable conclusion, the Knights managed to trouble Dean Anastasiadis in the South goal for the first time in the match, when Josip Kovic hit a well stuck drive directly at the keeper in the 81st minute.
Only two minutes later, the Knights were nearly on the score sheet when substitute Luke Slater, who looked lively when he came on, burst his way through the South defence with an advancing Anastasiadis to beat.
Unlike the sublime chip by MacNicol, Slater’s shot struck the cross bar and bounced back into the field of play.
With the 2-0 victory, South find itself back in 2nd place with a home game against the Sunshine Georgies next Sunday at Bob Jane Stadium.
South Melbourne FC 2 (De Nittis, MacNicol)
Melbourne Knights 0
Crowd : 700 @ Knights Stadium