Saturday, 30 June 2007 3:15 PM
By George Kouroumalis
South Melbourne has fallen to a second defeat in a row, after being trumped by the determined Richmond Eagles in a scrappy affair on a cold Friday night at Bob Jane Stadium.
South were without Ricky Diaco and Fernando, who both were forced out by leg injuries, while John Anastasiadis responded to the Heidelberg defeat the previous week by sending Sam DeVito and Bill Natsioulas to the substitutes bench. Veteran Arthur Tsonis and newcomer Frank Drakopoulos, who was making his first start in a South Melbourne shirt, replaced them. Mitchell Langerak was once again given the nod as first choice keeper, while joining Tsonis and Drakopoulos in defence were Ramazan and Adam Van Dommele.
The midfield was made up of ex-Heidelberg winger Yusef Yusef, Trent Waterson and youngster Jose Vasquez. Joining the young trio was the experienced Tansel Baser, who despite a niggling injury made yet another start for the club in the defensive midfield position. Up front, Gianni DeNittis returned from a groin injury to partner Nathan Caldwell, who without Diaco, needed to step up if South were going to take the points.
South began the game in a positive manner, threatening the Richmond goal in the 3rd minute, when a sublime run by Trent Waterson saw the quick midfielder dart past a host of Richmond defenders on the right hand flank before whipping in an inch-perfect ball onto the head of Nathan Caldwell. However Caldwell, who was in great position, launched a fairly tame header onto the target and into the arms of the waiting Stuart Webster.
South continued to push forward in the 14th minute, when Vasquez launched a strong drive onto the target from well outside the area. Unfortunately, his shot was directed straight into the arms of Webster, who made another routine save.
In the 31st minute, Richmond went a goal ahead, when former A-League player Henry Fa’arodo turned the South defence inside out on the right hand side of the area, before whipping in a low floating ball inside the six yard area. To the disbelief of the South contingent, Langerak came out to catch the ball low to the ground, but in an unfortunate incident for the Young Socceroo, the ball slipped through his arms and legs and straight into the path of the waiting Steve Burton, who tapped the ball into the open net from only one yard out.
South had their best chance of the half just before the interval, when an inventive and curling strike by Yusef from 20 metres struck the cross-bar.
The second half was a somewhat frustrating half of football to watch, with Richmond intent on defending their lead and South lacking the spark to get themselves back into the contest.
The first real chance of the half fell to Richmond, who through the dangerous Fa’arodo hit a long range effort past the outside of the post.
South didn’t really look like doing anything in an attacking sense until Natsioulas came on late in the second half. In the 73rd minute, Natsioulas linked up well with Waterson outside the area and after a string of passes struck a blistering strike onto the target and into the arms of Webster.
South continued to push forward and had a final chance to snatch a point in injury time. After some good lead up work by Andrew Bourakis, a cross into the area saw Caldwell rise for a header. Unfortunately for South, the header was tipped over the bar by Webster and South were condemned to their second straight defeat.
South Melbourne must now re-group by next Sunday when they host the Essendon Royals at 4.30pm.