South Melbourne FC

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South Melbourne FC v Essendon Royals – Match Report

South Melbourne FC v Essendon Royals – Match Report

Tuesday, 10 July 2007 12:44 AM

By Michael Tsoukalis

South Melbourne has failed to pick up a crucial three points, wasting a host of chances in the first half to eventually end up with a disappointing nil-all draw against the Essendon Royals.

South now drops out of the top six and faces a very tough couple of weeks coming up against title contenders Green Gully and Oakleigh. The Albert Park-based club will need at least four points from those two matches if it is to continue to harbor hopes of playing finals football.

Coach John Anastasiadis sent out a well balanced lineup. Mitch Langerak started in goals with the back four consisting of new central defensive pairing Tansel Baser and Frank Drakopoulos with Adam Van Dommele and Ramazan Tavsancioglu playing in the left and right back roles respectively.

In the centre of the park Sammy DeVito played the defensive midfield role with Gianni De Nittis deployed out-of-position in a central midfield role. Trent Waterson and Yusef Yusef patrolled the right and left flanks with Ricky Diaco returning from injury to lead the attack whilst Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes also made his return in a free attacking role tucked in behind Diaco.

South jumped the Royals in the first half and really should’ve iced the game in the first 30 minutes.

Four minutes in and South had their first good chance. A short corner was played to De Nittis who whipped in a stinging cross-shot that the diving Diaco missed by inches with a lunging header.

Two minutes later and Diaco should’ve scored after being played through one-on-one with only Royals keeper Marko Sutalo to beat. Unfortunately for South, Diaco smashed his stinging drive, from just inside the box, against the upright.

After ten minutes Essendon nearly turned in an own goal after great work down the right hand side by Waterson saw the ex-Sunshine Georgies player whip in a superb ball to the near post that was nearly bundled home by a scrambling Royals defender who just managed to clear for a corner.

On 17 minutes a deadly ball into the box by Yusef Yusef was instinctively, but almost disastrously, headed towards goal by a covering Royals defender with the ball landing just wide of Sutalo’s right upright with the keeper well beaten.

South continued their onslaught on 20 minutes when a scramble in the Essendon six-yard box saw the ball nearly forced home but eventually cleared by the desperate Royal’s defence.

Then on 24 minutes South were denied a goal after a corner from the right was met with a firm header with the Georgies managing to clear off the line, however, the ball appeared to be have gone over the goal line. The linesman kept his flag down with the rebound falling to the luckless Diaco who again smashed his effort, from four-or-so yards out and on a slight angle, into the upright.

On 30 minutes it was the turn of Moraes to miss a golden opportunity. A quality ball was whipped in from the left flank with the ball eluding the defence and Diaco and falling to Moraes on the back post 10 or so yards out. Unfortunately for South the Brazilian rushed his attempted volley and sliced his volleyed effort way wide.

After a productive first half, South appeared to tire in the second half and run out of imagination. Essendon were quite happy to sit back and soak up all the pressure with South custodian Mitchell Langerak failing to be tested throughout the match.

Essendon played such a defensively minded game that at least 70-80% of the second half was spent in their half, however, with at least 10 men behind the ball, the Royals managed to continually stifle South’s creativity.

The Royals sent on young striker Farouk Tijani on 67 minutes, deploying him as a lone attacker and hoping his silky dribbling skills and pace could carve out a chance on the counter. Tijani did break free on a counter attack soon after coming on but was quickly closed down by the South defence. A move which started and ended Essendon’s attacking ambitions for the match.

The introduction of the classy Vasilios Natsioulas did spark South for five-or-so minutes with substitute Nathan Caldwell also causing a nervous moment for the Royals after his stinging 20 yard drive saw Sutalo fail to glove the ball cleanly with the Royals fortunate that no South player was following up.

Essendon’s defence continued to battle and managed to soak up the entire half to take home a somewhat fortunate, however, well-earnt draw.

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