Thursday, 31 August 2006 4:37 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
Friday night is do-or-die for John Anastasiadis’s men who lost out on the guaranteed second chance that is afforded with a top-two finish after being convincingly beaten by Ian Dobson’s men 2-0, in last week’s final round of the Vodafone Cup.
Gully’s triumph over South saw the western suburbs based club pull off a remarkable mid-season resurrection which saw their form sky-rocket after the re-appointment of Dobson as head coach, sneaking into the top six after flirting with the relegation zone for much of the season.
South rested a number of player’s from last week’s lineup with Scot MacNicol, Dino Djulbic and Tansel Baser having little or no involvement in the game.
Their absence greatly affected the balance of South who look disorientated and lacking imagination in what proved to be one of, if not their most disappointing performances of the season.
Injury wise, Coach Anastasiadis doesn’t have any new concerns to deal with. Con Blatsis as always must be carefully nursed with the colossal defender coming off at half time last week against Gully, but Blatsis aside all players barring the long term injuries suffered by Arthur Tsonis and Vasilios Natsioulas will be available with youngster Jose Vasquez, who missed last week with groin tightness, possibly available for selection.
Under Dobson Gully have re-discovered their unspectacular yet highly effective organized brand of football, and against South last week, prevented the visitors from creating any notable openings.
The inclusion of youngsters Joel Nikolic and Matthew Sanders in Dobson’s first team plans has seen Gully’s forward line rejuvenated with enthusiasm, pace and hunger to succeed with both youngsters having found the net regularly since Dobson was re-handed the reigns.
Usual suspects Dean Fak, Brandon Vassallo, Jeffrey Fleming, Lubo Lapsanky, Andy Vargas and Dragi Nastevski are littered with experience at Premier League and National League level and have formed the basis of Gully’s success over the last 3-4 years.
All players are extremely familiar with one another’s game, strengths and weaknesses and as a result have allowed Gully to play consistent and efficient football over a long period of time.
In particular under the helm of Dobson, Gully’s defence has been traditionally very hard to break down and when one couples this fact with South’s consistent battle of finding the back of the net regularly, John Anastasiadis’s men will have to be at their best to penetrate Gully’s defensive line.
For the loser the season comes to a disappointing and premature end with the winner, seeing the draw open up dramatically with a preliminary final showing for a spot in the grand final against the winner of the Oakleigh v Altona game.