Monday, 16 July 2007 12:45 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
South Melbourne and Green Gully have played out an even nil-all draw in a game where both team’s had chances but ultimately good goalkeeping and poor finishing kept both sides scoreless.
Coach John Anastasiadis sent out the same lineup as the week before against Essendon with promising young keeper Mitch Langerak in goal. The new central defensive pairing consisting of Tansel Baser and Frank Drakopoulos had another hit-out with Adam Van Dommele and Ramazan Tavsancioglu playing the left and right-back roles respectively.
In the centre of the park Sammy DeVito continued in the defensive midfield role with Gianni De Nittis again deployed in an unfamiliar central midfield role. Trent Waterson and Yusef Yusef continued to patrol the right and left flanks respectively with Brazilian maestro Fernando Moraes in an attacking midfield role. Up front, Ricky Diaco was deployed as the lone striker.
South started promisingly when after 10 minutes good build up play by the visitors saw the overlapping Van Dommele released on the left. The ex-Adelaide United man produced a superb cross that Gully custodian Tomas Kovar managed to slightly parry away at full stretch with Trent Waterson nearly managing to steer the ball home on the back post.
Twenty-one minutes in and Van Dommele again found himself at the end of some great build-up play. This time Diaco and Moraes had combined superbly to release the South wingback who found himself on a slightly better angle this time round and unleashed a stinging drive that fortunately for Gully crashed into legs and went out for a corner.
In the 25th minute South survived a major scare after a serious defensive misjudgment by Tavsancioglu saw Andy Vargas released down the left flank and homing in towards the South area. The scurrying South defence managed to block the eventual shot but the ball deflected behind Langerak and was seemingly ready for a tap in, only for the young South keeper to throw himself at the ball and somehow end up with it.
South won a free kick in a dangerous position 30-or-so yards out in the 33rd minute. Gully failed to deal with the ball effectively with their headed clearance falling straight to the arriving Tavsancioglu who had a clear shot from just outside the box. Unfortunately for South, Tavsancioglu scuffed his shot, seeing his eventual effort trickle wide when he should’ve really hit the target.
Gully should’ve went ahead bar for a wonder reflex save by Langerak on 39 minutes after a menacing ball from the right by Kristijan Ivesic was met well on the turn by a Gully player 8 or so yards out with Langerak being at he right place at the right time to produce a wonderful, point-blank, reflex save to keep the scores level.
Just before half time South were denied a blatant penalty after Moraes had played in Diaco who had his legs taken under him after he was challenged from behind with the defender clearly getting more leg than ball, however, referee Senko Rastocic waved play-on.
The second half continued much like the first. The balance of play was generally quite even with both sides capable of creating chances and unlocking the game.
South were grateful that Langerak was in fine form for a second time, when on 59 minutes the young custodian denied Gully again with a superb reflex save. Gully had played a searching through ball over the South defence that released Ivesic one-on-one with Langerak but on an angle. The shot was well hit but Langerak did superbly well to react to the angled effort and in the end made the save look quite easy.
The game then stagnated for a while only for South to come home extremely hard in the last 15 minutes.
First Diaco latched onto a stinging 82nd minute cross from the right that saw the scurrying Gully defence do well to block the shot from 14-or-so yards out that seemed destined for the back of the net.
Then two minutes later, Diaco had a 20 yard curling effort saved superbly well by Kovar who dived at full stretch to prevent the South striker from notching his 9th goal of the season.
South should’ve snatched the points on 86 minutes after substitute Vasilios Natsioulas sent in an inch perfect ball from the right into the heart of the Gully area that gave fellow substitute Nathan Caldwell a free header from 10 or so yards out. Unfortunately for South, Caldwell failed to hit the target when that was the absolute minimum required from the quality of the chance created.
South earn a valuable point but now must push for maximum points in a fortnight’s time in the derby game against Oakleigh. A favourable run-in to the end of the season awaits John Anastasiadis’s men with maximum points against arch-rivals the Cannons going a long way towards positioning South for a strong run-in and possible finals birth.