Saturday, 10 March 2007 6:42 PM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne has collected their first win of the season, defeating the Richmond Eagles by 3 goals to 2.
Striker Nathan Caldwell made a stunning debut for John Anastasiadis’s men finishing with a double whilst South’s other goal and the eventual winner was brilliantly converted by Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes.
Richmond had equalized twice, initially through an own goal by Arthur Tsonis after Richmond winger Semir Sevic found some space down the right and whipped in a ferocious ball that deflected off Tsonis and past a helpless Dean Anastasiadis, whilst a fine back post header by James Baskerville saw the Eagles level for the second time midway through the second half.
Coach John Anastasiadis made a couple of changes from last week’s lineup. In came striker Nathan Caldwell for his first game for the club after switching from the Melbourne Knights in the off-season whilst Arthur Tsonis made his first start since his season ending injury last season, slotting in on the left hand side of a three man defence.
Youngster Nick Curtis was relegated to the substitute’s bench whilst fellow youngster Gianni De Nittis took up an unfamiliar role on the left wing.
South lined up as follows. Dean Anastasiadis started in goals with a flat back three of Steven O’Dor, Dino Djulbic and Arthur Tsonis in front of him. South stacked the midfield with youngster Sammy DeVito deployed in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role with Vasilios Natsioulas and Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes playing in the centre of the park. In the wingback roles Ramazan Tavsancioglu started on the right flank and Gianni De Nittis was deployed on the left. Up front Nathan Caldwell partnered last week’s hero Ricky Diaco.
The game started quite openly with Richmond looking to expose South down the right flank and South equally committed to playing attacking football and trying to score goals.
After 13 minutes Moraes unleashed a “daisy cutter” from 25 yards that skimmed just wide.
Three minutes later and a superb precision-based counter from South saw Moraes unleashed in acres of space down the right flank. Moraes managed to square the ball to Caldwell who from the top of the 18 yard area sent his first time strike past the outstretched right arm of Eagles goalkeeper Ivan Tomic who managed to get a glove on the strike but couldn’t prevent the goal.
After South’s bright start Richmond should’ve leveled in the 17th minute when a defensive lapse from South, who were attempting to play the offside trap, saw Henry Fa’arodo released in behind the South defence, after some recovery pressure the ball fell to a Richmond player who from 6 yards out and with a seemingly harder task to miss than score was prevented by a superb save by Anastasiadis.
South had two chances in the 28th and 32nd minutes of play to extend their lead after a Diaco shot on the turn took a wicked deflection and nearly sailed past Tomic whilst four minutes later Caldwell almost doubled his tally with a curling strike destined for the bottom right-hand corner that was well saved by Tomic.
The openness of the game saw Richmond grind out another golden opportunity in the 33rd minute when a cross from the right was met on the near post by an unmarked Fa’arodo, whose flick header sailed narrowly past the back-post.
Richmond deservedly equalized after 39 minutes when Semir Sevic exposed South down the right flank, worked his way into the box and unleashed a stinging cross that cannoned into Arthur Tsonis and flew past Anastasiadis’s near post with the keeper having no chance of stopping such a ferocious deflection.
South started the second half the aggressor with good chances in consecutive minutes. Firstly in the 56th minute some good footwork by Natsioulas created some space with his square ball to Diaco seeing the powerful striker unleash a low drive that sailed just wide.
A minute later Moraes worked a chance for himself in the Richmond box with his eventual strike forcing a great diving save by Tomic.
In the 61st minute Diaco missed a golden opportunity to hand the ascendancy back to South when a class through ball by Djulbic released the South front man down the right hand side of the Richmond penalty area. Faced with only Tomic to beat but with the Richmond keeper positioning himself well, Diaco sent his angled drive just past the right upright.
South’s positive play paid off in the 66th minute after superb work down the right by Natsioulas saw the youngster work his way into the Richmond defensive area. Natsioulas then produced a pinpoint back-post cross that was met by Caldwell who worked a quality cross range header into the bottom right-hand corner to put South back in front and cap off an impressive debut.
Richmond almost exposed South’s shaky defensive play in the 68th minute when Steven O’Dor had the ball ripped from him by Fa’arodo on the edge of the South box. The speedy Eagles striker worked his way towards goal and again from point blank range somehow managed to hit the left upright with South continuing to ride their luck.
Seventy-one minutes had been played when the Eagles managed to draw level. A free-kick from the right was sent deep into the South box with James Baskerville rising above everyone to meet the ball with his head and power past a helpless Anastasiadis on the back post.
For the second time South had squandered the lead but in the 76th minute South would take the lead and keep it for good. South’s linchpin of the past two seasons Brazilian Fernando Moraes stamped his class on the encounter after receiving the ball down the right flank, Moraes worked his way to the edge of the Richmond area whilst skipping past a couple of players and produced a darting low angled strike into the bottom right-hand corner leaving the fully stretched Tomic with no chance.
Moraes should’ve sealed the result in the 88th minute after he was released one-on-one with Tomic down the right flank. Tomic again did well to spread himself and managed to outsmart Moraes who attempted to delicately guide the ball past the Richmond custodian with Tomic comfortably saving.
With the game seemingly won referee Phil Taverna somehow managed to find 6 minutes of extra time. Considering there were no sendoffs and not a great deal of time lost to injury treatment, 6 minutes was extremely excessive.
South nearly paid dearly for dropping their concentration after a 94th minute header sailed just wide with keeper Anastasiadis scrambling and a 96th minute strike from outside the box that rocketed just past the right upright.