By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC has returned to winning form today after defeating a very disappointing Kingston City outfit 0-3 at the Kingston Heath Sports Complex.
Kingston’s Starting XI: Di El Hali Dimassi (GK), Michael Marrone, Alec Wilson, Jim Latinopoulos, Andrew Jerez, Nick Tolios, Andrew Ross, Paul Brown, Nick Stamatiou, George Papadopouloss Christopher Greechan.
SMFC Starting XI: Mitchell Langerak (GK), Arthur Tsonis, Sam De Vito, Steven O’Dor, Rama Tavsancioglu, Trent Waterson, Bill Natsioulas, Fernando De Moraes, Yusuf Yusuf, Ricky Diaco, Gianni De Nittis.
Langerak, signed on a loan deal from the Melbourne Victory,was on debut for South.
South started off brightly and was rewarded as early as the fifth minute, when a Trent Waterson cross from the right was deflected into the back of the net. Although it looked like a Kingston player had scored an own goal, referee Phil Taverna awarded the goal to Bill Natsioulas.
South dictated terms during the early stages of the game, however could not take advantage of their large periods of possession. Four minutes after going ahead, a Diaco-inspired move saw him play the ball to Yusuf on the left side. A low cross by Yusuf found Diaco by himself near the penalty spot and 1 on 1 with Dimassi. Instead of making the score 0-2, Diaco hit a weak shot towards Dimassi, enabling the big Kingston keeper to parry the ball away for a corner.
For the rest of the half, Kingston settled and began to enjoy some periods of healthy possession. However like South, their dominance in possession did not see them rewarded on the scoreboard. However Kingston did cause a few nervy moments for the South defence, still acclimatising to the addition of Langerak in goals and the loss of Dino Djulbic to Perth Glory.
In the 28th minute, a cleverly worked move saw Papadopoulos through with just Langerak to beat, however Langerak produced a strong save, leading to a scramble in the box. Eventually the South defence cleared the danger.
Three minutes later Kingston thought they had equalised with a header, however referee Taverna ruled that Langerak had been obstructed when attempting to clear the danger and therefore disallowed the goal. Kingston continued to pressure the South defence and blew an excellent opportunity to equalise on the 40th minute when a free header was directed straight to Langerak for a routine save.
Although Kingston was pressing, South was also attacking whenever possible. South could have extended their lead several times, however poor decision making saw the halftime score read 0-1 only.
The second half opened quite slowly, with South happy to hold onto their slender advantage and with Kingston not doing enough to force a change in the scoreline. However, South’s defence almost gifted Kingston an equaliser on several occasions.
A minute after Natsioulas had skied a shot at goal that would have doubled his side’s lead, a ball into the South area saw Langerak misjudge a cross, fail to properly punch the ball and fall to the ground, leaving an open goal. Luckily for South, enough defensive pressure was applied to delay the eventual shot from Kingston, which landed just wide of the goals.
Despite the small defensive lapses, South looked comfortable and began to press forward, looking to double their advantage. In the 65th minute, some good work down the left saw Waterson hit a low shot to Dimassi’s near post, producing a good save from the Kingston custodian. Seven minutes later, a break saw Diaco in some space on the left flank.
His low cross across goals found Natsioulas at the far post but a fine defensive tackle resulted in a corner being awarded instead of a goal.
From the resulting corner, South finally doubled their lead. Diaco won the ball back after losing it from the short corner played. He then took on and beat three Kingston defenders before hitting a low shot that Dimassi did well to parry, however unfortunately for him the ball fell right into the path of the incoming Tsonis. From less than a metre out and with an open goal, the big South defender made no mistake in making the score 0-2.
South suddenly began to dominate again, with Diaco running riot up front. In the 76th minute he won the ball and took on the entire Kingston defence successfully, however Dimassi did well to block his final shot.
South won a corner that was played short to Bill Natsioulas, whose cross looked like a regulation save for Dimassi, however the big keeper dropped the ball and despite his best efforts to clear the danger, the linesman flagged that the ball had crossed the goal line. Referee Taverna awarded the goal to Natsioulas for his initial cross into the area.
Despite the fact that the game was already decided in their favour, South wanted more. With the introduction of the lively Jose Vasquez onto the field, South may have added a couple more, however the linesman had other ideas, continuously flagging for offside. Kingston had been very poor throughout the half, however, they almost got onto the score sheet two minutes into injury time.
A cross to the far post was met with a firm header, in which Langerak pulled off a fantastic reflex save to deny Kingston from scoring and to give himself a clean sheet on debut.
Jose Vasquez was thrilled to get back on the park after an injury-forced absence and was characteristically modest about his fantastic performance off the bench. “It was a great game and I was happy to be out there quicker than I expected.”
South will be looking to cement their place in the top six with their next game against Western Suburbs next Friday night at 8:15pm at Bob Jane Stadium.