South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Match Report: SMFC v Western Suburbs

Match Report: SMFC v Western Suburbs

Saturday, 9 June 2007 11:46 PM

By John Kyrou

South Melbourne recorded its second victory in a row, with a frustrating 2-1 win against Western Suburbs at Bob Jane Stadium on Friday night.

South coach John Anastasiadis started the match with a similar starting line-up that defeated Kingston 0-3 the previous week. The only exception was new defensive signing Adam Van Dommele, who replaced midfielder Bill Natsioulas after the two goal hero from the Kingston game succumbed to injury during the week.

Western Suburbs begun with Stjepan Gal in goals, Eddie Cetkin, James Stefanou, Tom Markovski, Terry Antoniadis, Igor Khrapko, Nikola Raoma, Vasilios Sianidis, Zoran Cvetkovski, Dimitri Hatzimouratis and Leandro Rizzo. Stefanou returned to Bob Jane Stadium for the first time since being loaned to Suburbs at the beginning of the season.

The game began slowly, with both sides struggling to get into their normal rhythms. Nine minutes into the match, South was dealt with a major blow, when Van Dommele injured himself venturing forward. The former Adelaide United player was forced to hobble off with what looked to be a leg injury and was replaced by the ever-reliable Tansel Baser.

The first goal-scoring chance did not arrive until the 16th minute, when a Fernando back-heel found De Nittis, who laid the ball off perfectly into the path of Baser, who had steamed forward. Baser’s final shot unfortunately sailed well wide of the goal. Two minutes later, South almost conceded an opener. A defensive blunder almost gifted Western Suburbs the lead, however South survived the scare.

In the 30th minute, the opening goal arrived. A quick cross by Diaco into the Western Suburbs area saw a Suburbs defender handle the ball and give away a penalty. Fernando took the spot kick and made no mistake, placing a low shot into the bottom right corner of the goal, well and truly beating Gal. The goal was the first goal that Western Suburbs had conceded in over a month of Foxtel Cup football.

Suburbs lifted their intensity after going behind and pressed forward in search of an equalising goal. A free kick won on the edge of the area presented them with an ideal opportunity to level the match; however Khrapko’s shot went well over the crossbar without troubling Langerak.

The match began to open up, as Suburbs took the game to South. This allowed South more space in order to counter-attack. South almost took advantage of this in the 40th minute, with an excellent counter-attacking move involving Baser, Fernando and Diaco. Fernando’s final ball saw Diaco with an opportunity to double his side’s advantage. However, his left foot shot was straight at Gal, who claimed the ball comfortably. A minute later, all three players were again involved in a similar move, with the final shot being deflected for a corner.

Suburbs had been defending quite comfortably without being afraid to venture forward themselves. They were rewarded three minutes from halftime, when Rizzo found space for himself on the right flank, directly in front of the vocal and colourful Clarendon Corner. Rizzo cut inside before unleashing a blistering low shot from just outside the area, which flew across Langerak’s goal and into the far corner of the net for 1-1. To make matters worse for South, De Nittis hobbled off the ground at halftime with a suspected groin injury. He was replaced by Nathan Caldwell.

The second half began like the first, with both sides taking a while to settle in again. In the 49th minute, South missed a half-chance to re-take the lead, when Diaco met a Tavsancioglu cross firmly, but directed his header over the bar. Two minutes later, South almost went behind when a dangerously low Suburbs cross into the South area somehow managed to evade everyone and go out for a goal kick.

Suburbs were starting to show the Bob Jane Stadium faithful why they were such a well-drilled side that had been able to grind out results in previous weeks. However they almost fell behind when a defensive error presented Yusuf with an opportunity. Yusuf took on and beat two players, before unleashing a shot which sailed narrowly wide of Gal’s near post. A minute later, a similar error in the South defence saw Suburbs almost take the lead instead. However in the resulting goal-mouth scramble, South did enough to clear the danger and keep the scoreline level.

Suburbs were beginning to take control of the game and almost took the lead in the 72nd minute, when an out-swinging corner from the grandstand side was met by Markovski. His volley from near the penalty spot sailed just wide of Langerak’s goal, with the home crowd breathing a sigh of relief. South was suddenly under serious pressure from Suburbs, who had worked their way back into the game quite nicely. However after the Markovski volley opportunity, South finished the game stronger. In the 74th minute, Diaco found himself in space on the left side. Diaco managed to get a shot at goal; however his shot was weak and once again straight at Gal.

Three minutes after Diaco’s weak attempt, Suburbs’ defence, who had been solid all game, caved in to concede a bizarre winning goal for South. A cross from the right flank saw mass confusion in the Suburbs defence. Gal came off his line to collect the ball; however lack of communication saw one of his defenders make a poor attempted clearance instead. The ball deflected over Gal’s head and back towards the Suburbs goal. Gal did well to palm the ball onto the crossbar; however he was left stranded on the ground as the ball fell invitingly for Diaco, who with an open net had no problem in heading South back into the lead.

South had one final chance to wrap the game up in injury time, when a ball forward fell invitingly for Caldwell. Instead of laying the ball ahead of him to potentially set himself up for a 1 on 1 opportunity with Gal, Caldwell opted to head for the corner flag. However South had done enough and time had run out for Suburbs, with the fulltime whistle sounding moments later to condemn Suburbs to their first loss in 5 weeks.

South Melbourne will have the opportunity to further consolidate their position in the top 6 next Sunday, with a trip to the Sunshine Georgies at Chaplin Reserve. Kick-off is at 3pm. At the same time, Western Suburbs will be looking to make amends when they face high-flying Essendon Royals at Ralph Reserve.

Privacy Preference Center