Monday, 7 May 2007 11:21 AM
By George Kouroumalis
South Melbourne have won their first game in almost two months, defeating a spirited AIS side at Bob Jane Stadium on Sunday. South opened the scoring via Arthur Tsonis while Matt Mullins responded for the AIS. Nathan Caldwell netted the winner before half time.
Playing as an away side on its home turf, South Melbourne welcomed back inspirational leader Tansel Baser into the lineup, who played his first game of the season.
Baser, who was aching to be part of the action after a lengthy suspension, almost made an immediate impact in the second minute of play, when he released Caldwell into the area, only for the ex Melbourne Knights striker to hit the shot wide.
South continued to push forward at every opportunity and had another fantastic chance in the 7th minute to open the scoring. Fernando was given the ball in space by Trent Waterson just outside the area, with the Brazilian striking a wicked drive wide of the target once again.
With the vocal crowd behind them, South continued to push forward in numbers, with Wellington Phoenix-bound central defender Steven O’Dor playing a great cross into the path of Ricky Diaco. Diaco, who found himself with nobody around him, struck a header just wide of the keeper.
With South dominating the game completely by this point, it was only a matter of time before they put one into the back of the net and managed to do so in the 25th minute. After an inventive strike from outside the area by Fernando, the ball was parried by the keeper into the path of Arthur Tsonis, who tucked the ball into the open net.
In an unexpected twist and immediately from the resumption, a sweeping move by the young AIS outfit culminated in a superb run by youngster Matt Mullins, who burst through the defence like a hot knife through butter, ramming the ball past the outstretched Mladen Tosic in the South goal.
South got their one goal advantage back moments before the break when a storming and creative run by winger Yusef Yusef which saw the ex-Heidelberg player hit his shot hard at Jerrad Tyson’s feet in the AIS goal. To the disbelief of the waiting Caldwell, the keeper parried the ball into his path and with only one metre between him and the open net, he slotted the ball home.
Unlike the first half, the second half started off in a quite subdued manner, with no real opportunities falling to either side for the first 25 minutes, until a run and strike by Fernando from outside the area flew inches past the outside of the post and away for a goal kick.
In the 75th minute, South should have sealed the game, after a great bit of interplay between Fernando and Diaco saw the Brazilian hit another shot at goal, with the ball grazing the outside of the post.
In the 84th minute, the AIS almost equalised and snatched a point from the game, when some indecisive defensive work saw an opportunistic volley hit the bar and fly out for the goal kick.
South Melbourne midfielder Yusef was relieved after the game to have taken all three points. “It wasn’t our best game, but we are happy to take the points. Credit to the AIS, they kept their defensive pressure up all match and could have snatched a point at the end, remarked Yusef post-match.”
South Melbourne now host Springvale next Sunday at Bob Jane Stadium. Kick off is at 4.30pm.