Thursday, 21 June 2007 2:42 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
The Melbourne Victory has comprehensively beaten a vastly weakened South Melbourne outfit by 5 goals to 1.
South sent out a side without first team regulars Ramazan Tavsancioglu, Gianni DeNittis, Ricky Diaco, Nick Curtis, Adam VanDommele, Fernando Moraes and with emerging youngster Jose Vasquez starting on the bench.
Players like Andrew Bourakis, and Frank Drakopoulos who have hardly featured all season where given a chance to get some playing time under their belts against high quality opposition.
South’s starting lineup read as follows. Mitchell Langerak started in goals with Frank Drakopoulos and Steven O’Dor the central defensive pairing whilst Arthur Tsonis and Sam DeVito played at left and right back respectively. In the centre of the park Tansel Baser played in his customary defensive midfield position with Andrew Bourakis the attacking midfielder. Trent Waterson and Yusef Yusef played on the right and left flanks with the front pairing consisting of Vasilios Natsioulas and Nathan Caldwell.
It had been speculated that the Victory would send out a vastly weakened side for this encounter, focusing on trialing some youngsters, but the squad they sent out and kept on the pitch for at least 60 minutes was anything but under strength. Perhaps coach Ernie Merrick was unsure of the lineup South were going to send out and as such was keen to sure up a positive result.
South started extremely shakily with Sam DeVito being exposed down the left flank by Adrian Caceres. The ex-Perth Glory player had an angled strike trickle wide within a minute of the start of play after capitalizing on DeVito’s lack of conviction.
South failed to learn their lesson when in the 12th minute, an error down the left flank allowed Caceres to waltz unmarked into the South box and send an angled drive past the fully stretched Langerak who had no chance of keeping the well-placed strike out, Caceres took his goal well and highlighted how at a higher level, defensive lapses are usually heavily punished.
Bourakis then tested Victory keeper Eugene Galekovic on 15 minutes with a decent free kick that whilst headed for the top corner, was comfortably saved by the ex-South keeper who was well positioned.
South should’ve drawn level on 17 minutes after a Tsonis free kick from the right flank found a totally unmarked Yusef on the back post. Unfortunately for South the silky winger headed over, failing to work Galekovic when at the very least he should’ve forced a save.
Victory went two ahead in the 33rd minute after another defensive error from South saw the home side fail to clear a centre from the right flank with the ever lurking Archie Thompson comfortably side footing past Langerak with a first time effort. Thompson’s goal however did contain a suspicion of offside.
The visitors nearly added a third on 37 minutes when Daniel Allsopp was released down the right hand side of the South box with only Langerak to beat. Allsopp fired a venomous drive that Langerak did superbly well to hold onto.
After 38 minutes, South scored what is hoped to be the first of many goals against the Victory. Yusef found some space down the left side of the Victory box and sent in a low and deadly cross that was nearly steered home by Tansel Baser who saw his point blank effort well saved by Galekovic, only for striker Nathan Caldwell to pounce on the rebound and bundle the ball over the line.
In the 2nd half Coach Anastasiadis further experimented with his side, taking off Tansel Baser at half time and Vasilios Natsioulas soon after whilst bringing on three youngsters from the South youth team who have yet to taste any senior experience.
Archie Thompson set Bob Jane Stadium alight after 52 minutes when a superb individual dribble saw him take the ball from well outside the South area, dribble past 3 South defenders as well as rounding keeper Langerak to tuck home a superb individual goal.
The game resumed with Nathan Caldwell nearly adding a 2nd goal to his tally on 55 minutes when the defence seemed to open up in front of him as he surged forward. Natsioulas had broken off well down the right but Caldwell chose to ignore his run and fired a decent effort just over the crossbar.
On 59 minutes Victory added a fourth. Former South player Daniel Allsopp found some space down the right hand side of the South box. His stinging drive was well saved by Langerak but Allsopp reacted superbly to send the rebound looping over Langerak with an instinctive lunging header.
The sting from the game well and truly phased out in the last 30 minutes with Coach Anastasiadis sending on players from the youth squad for their first ever taste of senior action.
Victory however were not done, VIS youngster Alex Tabor latched onto a superb delivery from a free kick from the left in the 82nd minute with his glancing header leaving Langerak with no chance and rounding off a convincing 5-1 win for the visitors.