Monday, 18 June 2007 4:37 PM
By George Kouroumalis
South Melbourne have continued their undefeated run by extending their winning streak to three games and overcoming a determined Sunshine side at a wet, windy and freezing Chaplin Reserve on Sunday.
Sunshine who were without inspirational midfielder Jonas Salley through his departure to Adelaide United in the A-League, fielded a reasonably strong side where they started with veteran Martin John in goals.
John pre-game was seen as being the man to try and stifle any attacking foray that South would have on goal due to his exceptional run of late and experience in recent times.
Anthony Magnacca and Alfonzo Opazo were also two players in the lineup that needed to step up and control play in a manner that ensured that their side had every opportunity to take the points.
South commenced the game with highly rated youngster Jose Vasquez replacing Fernando in the center of the park, while Ramazan and Adam Van Dommele were missing due to succumbing to injuries during the week.
As the game commenced, South came out of the blocks in blistering touch, attacking from the opening possession of the game when a inventive run by Ricky Diaco culminated in the silky striker hitting a long range effort wide.
South were once again close to finding the target in only the 3rd minute, when Yusef Yusef was played into space on the left hand side of the park with the Sunshine defence seemingly allowing for the unmarked winger to take a touch and hit a brilliant cross into Tansel Baser inside the six yard box.
Baser, who was also unmarked, hit his header into the alert John, who made a great save to his left hand side.
John once again came to rescue once again in 7th minute, where Nathan Caldwell exposed a tentative defense by initially running past a number of players as if they weren’t there.
With a shot finally coming, Caldwell’s drive was hit directly into the arms of John, who looked the only man capable of stopping the South attack at this early stage of the game.
The acrobatic John once again denied Caldwell in the 9th minute, when another ball was played by into the striker who once again was in acres of space.
Although his well-struck attempt was hit well onto the target, John picked the shot off and turned the ball away for a corner.
South were rewarded for their dominance in the 15th minute, when the Georgies defence once again left Yusef unmarked just outside the area.
On this occasion the flashy winger took a touch and burst to just outside the area, smashing a low left foot drive past the unlucky John to give his side a one-goal advantage.
Diaco, who had been quite lively in the early stages of proceedings, almost doubled his side’s advantage two minutes later, when his blistering and intuitive effort was deflected inches wide of the target.
To the Georgies credit they rallied in the second part of the opening half and through Magnacca and Opazo they had two strikes hit well onto the target from well outside the area.
Unfortunately for them, each attempt to be safely and comfortably caught by Mitchell Langerak in the South goal.
Magnacca continued to push forward at every opportunity and should of done better with a half chance he had just before half time, after he skied an effort from just inside the area.
Had taken a touch rather than hit it first time, he could of steadied and made it much easier to hit the target given the conditions.
The second half continued in the exact same manner as the first did, with South attacking from outset in an attempt to try and double their advantage..
In the 52nd minute that looked to be the case when John parried a long-range effort by Diaco into the path of Bill Natsioulas, who seemingly tucked away the chance without any real trouble.
Luckily for the Sunshine side, the referee had his flag raised for offside and hence the goal was disallowed.
Although dodging a bullet previously, the Georgies were on the end of the other side of the referee’s decision on this occasion, when a ball from the right hand side by Natsioulas was handled in the area by Matthew Cini.
Referee Perry Mur subsequently pointed to the penalty spot to the dismay of the home support.
From the resultant penalty, Diaco squeezed the ball past the outstretched and somewhat unlucky John, who despite conceding the goal he had managed to get a hand onto the ball before crossing the line.
Sunshine coach John Markovski, who was nothing but frustrated with his side from the sidelines, attempted to try and spark his side into action, by substituting himself into the game in the 68th minute of play.
The former NSL star made an immediate impact setting up an effort by Opazo, which was hit wide but signaled that Sunshine perhaps were capable of pulling a goal back.
Markovski continued to reap havoc up front for the Georgies, with the South defence nowhere to be seen as the big striker hit a great strike into the diving Langerak.
From the resultant rebound, Langerak made the save of the contest when Markovski stuck a lethal left foot volley onto the target, with the Young Socceroo able to somehow turn the ball over the crossbar and away for a goal kick.
Langerak continued a sublime five minutes when he then turned a goal bound free kick by Opazo amazingly away for a corner, when the ball looking like it was going to find the top left hand corner of the net.
South had one final chance to score late in the game when Natsioulas burst into the area only for his goal bound shot to be turned away by keeper John, who had played a great game in the Sunshine goals.
Sunshine must now regroup as they host the Essendon Royals next Sunday at Chaplin Reserve, in what shapes up as a must win contest for both clubs.
On the other hand, South Melbourne look forward to two massive games in the next 7 days, hosting the Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night at Bob Jane Stadium, whilst having to also travel next weekend to Olympic Village to face arch rivals Heidelberg United.