Saturday, 17 March 2007 1:05 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
Quality strikes from in form forward Ricky Diaco and Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes have given South Melbourne a 0-2 win against the Essendon Royals.
South’s first ever win against the Gary Groenewald coached outfit was kick-started in the 34th minute after Diaco had found himself in acres of space down the right hand side of the Essendon box, capitalizing on a long goal kick by South custodian Dean Anastasiadis. The former Bulleen Zebras striker calmly chose his spot and slotted the ball into the bottom left-hand corner with Royals keeper Marko Sutalo at full stretch having no chance.
After dominating the second half South sealed the game in the 85th minute when a neatly worked short corner between youngster Gianni De Nittis and Moraes, saw the Brazilian make some space for himself just outside the left-hand side of the Essendon box. Moraes then unleashed a stunning strike that left Royals keeper Sutalo with no chance as it slammed into the left top-corner of the net.
Coach John Anastasiadis had his hand forced with Vasilios Natsioulas not making the squad due to injury and being replaced in the starting eleven by off-season recruit Trent Waterson.
South lined up as follows. Dean Anastasiadis began in goals with Steven O’Dor, Dino Djulbic and Arthur Tsonis playing as a flat three in defence. In the centre of the park Sammy DeVito continued in his new defensive midfield role with Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes playing as the attacking link man. Youngster Gianni De Nittis was tucked in a slight left midfield role as well. Out wide Ramazan Tavsancioglu and Trent Waterson played in the right and left wingback roles respectively with Ricky Diaco and Nathan Caldwell leading the South attack.
South began positively and after 3 minutes a well worked move down the left saw De Nittis played in near the edge of the area. De Nittis did well to make space for a shot, but his left foot effort was straight at Sutalo who saved easily.
Fifteen minutes in and a Moraes free kick deep into the heart of the Essendon box almost found a glancing header with the ball eventually falling to Sutalo who almost fumbled.
Essendon were doing a decent job of absorbing the pressure and nearly caught the visitors out after 29 minutes when a quick break down the right flank saw the subsequent cross take a wicked deflection that almost lobbed Anastasiadis.
The Royals could’ve taken the lead on 34 minutes after an early cross from the left flank found an unmarked Nazir Ismail, unfortunately for Essendon the ball was slightly behind Ismail whose eventual effort was miss-hit and lobbed over the cross-bar from 8 or so yards out.
From the subsequent goal kick South Melbourne went ahead. A long clearance from Anastasiadis was latched onto by Diaco who worked his way into the right hand channel of the Essendon box and produced a calm angled finish across Sutalo and into the bottom left-hand corner to give South the initiative after 34 minutes. Diaco’s finish once again highlighted his importance to Blue and Whites with the 2005 VPL Gold Medal winner scoring his 3rd goal in as many matches.
South finished the half with a late flurry. First a 42nd minute free kick from the right fell to a lunging O’Dor on the back post, O’Dor got his effort on target but an Essendon defender was on hand to clear off the line.
Two minutes later and Waterson worked some space for himself just outside the Royals defensive area, his subsequent strike flew just over the crossbar but infuriated Moraes who had taken up a good position and was unmarked on the left hand side of the box.
South began to assert their dominance in the 2nd half. Waterson found some space on the right and produced a venomous head-high cross that just sizzled past a South head when all that was required was the slightest of contact directed towards goals.
John Anastasiadis’s men have conceded three times from set pieces this season and nearly conceded again in the 61st minute when a Royals corner was met with an angled header that flew just over the left top-corner.
After surviving that shock Waterson was at it again two minutes later, finding acres of space down the right flank and sending in a superb low cross that seemed destined to find the back of the net only to see Caldwell strike air from 8 or so yards though admittedly under intense pressure from his marker.
South were continuing to pile on the pressure in search of the crucial 2nd goal with De Nittis going close on 68 minutes when his strike, at the end of good build-up play from visitor, sailed narrowly wide.
Waterson was determined to show the 1000-plus traveling South faithful and the vocal and continuous chanting of the Clarendon Corner his ability and was nearly rewarded for his efforts after a superb piercing run through the centre of the park in the 77th minute saw the ex-Sunshine Georgies player play Diaco in behind the Essendon defence. The colossal forward unleashed a venomous strike from just outside the Royals box that Sutalo did well to tip over.
After 83 minutes Waterson again found acres of space down the right, this time his early cross put the Royals under extreme pressure but Gary Groenewald’s men managed to clear. Waterson perhaps would’ve been better off continuing his run into the box and having a strike but his continued dominance down the right for South was an extremely encouraging sign for Coach Anastasiadis.
South’s second goal and eventual sealer arrived after Moraes was released down the left and unleashed a decent effort that Sutalo tipped over for a corner. From the subsequent corner, Moraes and De Nittis worked a neat one-two with Moraes released in space on the left-hand corner of the Essendon box. The silky Brazilian then unleashed a rocket-like 85th minute effort that crashed past Sutalo and into the left top-corner leaving the Royal’s keeper with absolutely no chance.
To Essendon’s credit they almost pulled one back in the 88th minute after a shot from outside the box was saved well down low by Anastasiadis with the follow-up being tucked into the back of the net. The linesman however had well and truly flagged with the goal being disallowed for offside.
South now consolidates its position in the top six having collected seven points from their opening three fixtures.