Monday, 30 April 2007 1:05 AM
By George Kouroumalis
Altona Magic has defeated a gallant but ultimately unlucky South Melbourne 3-1 in front of a healthy crowd at Bob Jane Stadium on Sunday.
South started brightly surging forward almost immediately, when Brazilian maestro Fernando was released into space just outside the area. The midfielder launched a cracking drive on target, with veteran goalkeeper Bojo Jevdevic coming to Altona’s rescue with a great save to his left.
In the tenth minute, Altona pushed forward against the run of play, where experienced midfielder Daniel Vasilevski played a well weighted through ball into the path of Koce Delev. Delev, with only the keeper to beat, placed a brilliant shot onto the target and past the outstretched Mladen Tosic in the South goal, giving his side a 1-0 advantage.
South, who looked somewhat shell-shocked, responded in the twentieth minute when they were given a free kick just outside the area. The quick thinking Fernando played an early ball into the unmarked Ricky Diaco. The former A-League star hit a first time drive past the keeper, putting his side back on level terms.
South should have taken the lead in the 28th minute, when a lovely sweeping move culminated in Nathan Caldwell finding himself in acres of space inside the area, with nobody marking him. To the disbelief of all fans at the ground, the former Melbourne Knights striker hit the shot directly at the feet of the stationary keeper.
Just before the break, Jevdevic once again pulled off a series of sublime saves within the five minutes, where both Caldwell and Diaco had their shots foiled by the experienced campaigner, who was at that point having an absolute blinder in the Altona goal.
The second half started where the first half finished, with Jevdevic continuing to be a rock, saving a point blank strike from Fernando in the moments just after half time.
In the 60th minute, Altona had a rare foray forward, when captain Vasilevski was played into acres of space along the right hand side of the park. Looking up, Vasilevski played a sensational ball into the box, causing mass confusion amongst the South Melbourne defence, culminating in Ramazan Tavsancioglu forcing the ball into the open net.
With South 2-1 down, Diaco looked to take matters into his own hands and had two inventive strikes hit wide of the target in both the 71st and 76th minutes after turning the defence inside out on both occasions.
The reigning champions had arguably its best chance of the game in the 77th minute, when a storming run by substitute Yusuf Yusuf was finished by a superb ball being played into the path of Bill Natisoulas. To the complete dismay of the home supporters, Natsioulas hit his shot into the arms of the man of the match Jevdevic, who pulled off another sterling save.
Altona then quickly countered and, after some confusion between the defence and inexperienced keeper Tosic, the ball fell to the open Vasilevski who hit his strike into the open net, sending the three points to Paisley Park.
Altona’s relieved coach Vlado Tortevski was pleased with the result. “ The side was sensational in their efforts today” said Tortevski post-match. “I hope that this will turn the side’s fortunes around for the rest of the season.”
Perth Glory bound South defender Dino Djulbic was left to rue the results. “We were unlucky but next week we will lift with the addition of Tansel Baser, who returns from suspension. We have missed his experience so far in the middle of the park.”