South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Altona Magic v South Melbourne FC – Match Report

Altona Magic v South Melbourne FC – Match Report

Sunday, 19 August 2007 9:33 PM

By Michael Tsoukalis

South Melbourne’s hopes of finals football have been dealt a severe blow after a stuttering performance saw a Michael Curcija header midway through the second half ultimately prove enough for the Western Suburbs-based club with Altona managing to hold on to a one-nil result and practically confirm their place in the top-six.

South must now win there last three encounters against the Sunshine Georgies, Western Suburbs and Kingston City if they are to figure in finals action.

Injuries to Tansel Baser and Trent Waterson meant that South was forced to make two changes to its starting lineup. Yusef Yusef and Fernando Moraes came back into the team after missing the past few encounters with calf and knee injuries respectively.

Coach John Anastasidis sent his team out as follows. Mitch Langerak started in goals protected by a central defensive pairing of Arthur Tsonis and Sammy DeVito. Rama Tavsancioglu and Adam Van Dommele continued in their respective right and left-back roles. In the centre of the park Vasilios Natsioulas was given an attacking midfield role with Gianni De Nittis also partnering him in the centre of the park. Out wide, Yusef Yusef started on the right flank with Brazilian Fernando Moraes on the left. Up front Nathan Caldwell continued his partnership with South leading scorer Ricky Diaco.

With the result of vital importance for both sides, the game was very tight with little being created in the opening half hour. South’s first decent chance arrived on 27 minutes when a free kick from 20 or so yards out was hit well over the crossbar by Ricky Diaco.

Then a minute later, the game exploded into action after ex-South Melbourne striker Michael Curcija whipped in a quality ball from the right that found an unmarked Saso Aleksovski who saw his first time-volley bobble past South keeper Langerak only to be cleared off the line by the well positioned DeVito.

South began the 2nd half looking to find the crucial go-ahead goal. The skillful Natsioulas found himself in a great position just outside the box in the 48th minute but produced a disappointing effort, failing to hit the target and to test Altona custodian Bojo Jevdjevic.

Ricky Diaco spurned a golden chance in the 58th minute after Caldwell did superbly well to release Moraes down the left with a lunging pass. Moraes produced a superb cross to the back-post that took out Jevdjevic and left Diaco with an open net. Unfortunately for South, the ball was slightly high with Diaco, at full stretch, heading narrowly over from 6-or-so yards out.

Altona nearly went ahead in the 62nd minute after a superb cross to the back-post again by Curcija saw the South defence scurrying to block for a corner. From the resulting corner indecision in the South 6-yard box saw Tavsancioglu slice the ball onto the crossbar.

Altona went ahead on 66 minutes after ex-South winger Agim Sherifovski found some space down the left flank. Sherifovski produced an inch-perfect cross that found an unmarked Curcija who with a first time diving header, sent the ball crashing past Langerak from 8-or-so yards out.

It was disappointing defending from South who left Curcija completely unmarked in his most dangerous position, in-and-around the heart of the box.

South seemed to lose heart after conceding the goal with Altona nearly adding a second in the 77th minute after poor marking from the South defence saw last season’s Gold Medal winner Saso Becvinovski giving space to turn and shoot in a dangerous position on the edge of the South box. Fortunately for South, Becvinovski shot straight at Langerak who gloved safely.

In the 79th minute a superb run down the right flank byYusef Yusef saw the ex-Heidelberg winger produce a great low cross into the heart of the Altona area. Unfortunately for South there was no-one on hand to tap home what would’ve been the easiest of finishes with Altona custodian Jevdjevic no-where near the cross.

Two minutes later and South continued there search for an equalizer. This time quick control and a sharp shot on the turn from just outside the Altona box by Caldwell saw the ball flash agonizingly past the right upright with Jevdjevic well beaten.

In the 84th minute a searching ball from the right into the heart of the Altona box saw Natsioulas almost fashion a brilliant equalizer with his instinctive header crashing into the side-netting.

South’s best chance to equalize arrived in the 91st minute after Diaco made some space for himself on the edge of the Altona area. Diaco had a clear strike and from a favorable angle and looked odds-on to equalize. However and unfortunately for South, the powerful striker scuffed his shot and saw it rest comfortably in the gloves of Jevdjevic who was relieved to not have produce any acrobatics.

Altona nearly added a second with practically the last kick of the game when ex-South Melbourne defender Levent Osman was given too much space just outside the box and subsequently fired a powerful and dipping effort that Langerak did superbly well to save and deflect for a corner.

A disappointing result for South in what was a must win encounter, that said, John Anastasiadis’s men still have their destiny somewhat in their hands with their final three games of the season against teams which they have defeated early on in the season. If South manage to win their last three games the Champions will be almost certain of being able to attempt a defence of their Championship, however with the patchy form they have shown all season, John Anastasiadis’s men will have to find a level of consistency which has escaped them thus far.

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