Monday, 3 September 2007 12:53 PM
By George Kouroumalis
For the first time since re-joining the State League in the 2005 season, South Melbourne will be in somewhat unfamiliar territory, missing out on a top six position and finals football, after a uncharacteristic loss against Western Suburbs on Sunday.
Going into the game, the equation was simple for both sides, with a Western Suburbs win ensuring that the Sunshine based club would avoid relegation.
On the flip side, the reigning champions knew that if it had any chance of making the top six it would have to overcome the resilient Suburbs outfit.
South went into the game with a fairly inexperienced line-up, with arguably the two most consistent players of the season in Trent Waterson and Ricky Diaco falling to injury and illness during the week.
Staring for South were three newcomers in Robert Wynne, Dusan Bosnjak and Bunyamin Vahid, who were all making their debut for the club in the starting eleven.
With the first half starting in a fairly slow and tentative manner, Suburbs created the first genuine chance in the 12th minute, when some poor defending by Arthur Tsonis allowed the ball to spill to Leandro Rizzo.
Rizzo, who had found himself in the right place, calmly tapped his shot from close range into the back of the net giving his side the advantage.
Suburbs continued to push forward at every opportunity and a storming run down the left hand flank by Igor Kraphko saw the energetic midfielder win a penalty after poor judgement by Ramazan.
Kraphko stepped up and slammed his penalty past the helpless Langerak to give his side a two nil advantage at the break.
South came out a more attacking side in the second half and through a couple of speculative efforts by Fernando De Moraes amd Nathan Caldwell, the away side had signalled that perhaps they were up for the challenge.
De Moraes had another chance to get his side onto the scoreboard once again in the 62nd minute, when some good interplay between him and Caldwell saw the Brazilian maestro slam the ball well over the bar.
However in the 77th minute, it was Suburbs that would grab the only goal of the half when a sweeping break by the home side saw Rizzo play an exceptional ball into Bill Sianidis.
Sianidis, who had worried South all game, composed himself and buried the chance past the keeper to give his side an amazing 3-0 win and the assurance that they would be playing in the Foxtel Cup in Season 2008.
South on the other hand will rue a season of missed opportunity, after failing o make the top six following their championship win from last season.
With the final game of the season against Kingston City at Bob Jane Stadium next Sunday, fans are asked to continue to get behind the side and to continue their valued support of South Melbourne FC.
Kick off next Sunday is at 3pm.