Monday, 3 March 2008 8:36 AM
By George Kouroumalis
A superb South Melbourne performance has seen the home side completely destroy Western Suburbs by 5 goals to nil in front of a healthy and vocal crowd on Sunday at Bob Jane Stadium.
Coach John Anastasiadis made four changes to the starting line-up from last week, bringing in Gianni De Nittis, Hamlet Armenian, Fernando De Moraes and Tony La Verde, whilst dropping Nathan Caldwell, Shane Nunes and Yusuf Yusuf to the substitutes bench. Ricky Diaco missed out altogether with a slight groin strain.
La Verde was making his debut for the club and slotted into the much discussed defensive midfield role, alongside Bill Natsioulas, who played in the centre of the park. Joining the duo in the midfield were Fernando and Goran Zoric, who patrolled the right and left hand flanks.
In defence, Sam Poutakidis moved to the right back position, whilst Adam Van Dommele retained his position on the left, next to the two centre backs in Ramazan Tavsancioglu and Steven O’Dor. Up front, Gianni De Nittis and Hamlet Armenian were asked to perform the attacking duties, with the two youngsters keen to impress and cement a permanent starting 11 birth.
South started the game in an offensive mood, mounting an early raid on goal in the 3rd minute. A poorly defended cross fell to Poutakidis outside the area, who then launched a somewhat speculative volley from 20 yards out, only to see his shot fly wide of the goal. With the South mindset clearly on show for all to see, the home side launched another foray forward five minutes later, when a sublime run by Fernando culminated in a quick shot which saw Suburbs goalkeeper Gal do well to parry onto the post and away to safety.
South continued to raid the Suburbs goal and only minutes later a surging run by Poutakidis down the right hand flank saw the right back cut past the defender before hitting a poor shot straight into the arms of Gal. With Western Suburbs on the back foot, South squandered another chance in the 22nd minute, when a well weighted corner by Natsioulas was headed just over by O’Dor, who had leapt well over everyone in the area.
However the frustration felt by the South fans turned into joy in the 27th minute, when another run by Fernando once again culminated in the Brazilian launching a long range effort. Although Gal managed to get a hand onto the ball he could not prevent it from going into the back of the net and giving South a deserved 1-0 lead.
South were not done with yet and doubled their advantage in the 30th minute. A brilliant solo effort by Fernando once again saw the midfield maestro embarrass the Suburbs defence down the left hand side, before playing an inch perfect pass to the back post for Natsioulas to tap in with consummate ease.
With South in a rampant attacking mood, the side continued to press forward and squandered a guilt edged chance in the 33rd minute, when Gianni De Nittis missed a one on one chance just inside the area, after latching onto a 25 yard diagonal ball by Sam Poutakidis, who was having a superb game at right back.
Suburbs did have a chance against the run of play just before the half time break, when some poor defending by South and a quick counter-attack saw young Dimitri Hatzimouratis burst past the defence and into the area, before hitting his shot well wide of the target and away for a goal kick.
South commenced the second half in the same manner as the first, creating a chance almost immediately after the re-start. On this occasion Fernando, who was having a stellar game in the middle of the park, launched a stinging drive from long range on target, before keeper Gal made a superb acrobatic save to deny the Brazilian.
South went three up only ten minutes later after some brilliant lead-up work by Hamlet Armenian saw the speedster take on and pass the defenders before hitting a shot that was saved by Gal initially, but fell to the feet of De Nittis inside the area, who marked his return to the starting line-up in style with a calm finish.
With the South fans in party mode, Fernando sent them into further celebration when he hit a superb free kick from 25 yards around the wall and into the goal in the 60th minute, leaving Gal rooted to the spot and acting only as a spectator. The goal will surely be a contender for the goal of the round.
The intensity of the game dropped off for a period just after the goal until the 78th minute, when a superb triple save by Gal saw South fail to take advantage of another golden opportunity to score. The ball however was not properly cleared and De Nittis had another shot on goal which beat Gal but was cleared off the line by his defence and over the grandstand to safety.
South iced the game in the 88th minute when Armenian once again found space on the left hand side of the area before slamming an inch perfect ball to the back post. Poutakidis was steaming into the area and latched onto the ball and slammed a shot into the back of the net for South’s fifth and final goal of the evening.
South will be looking to replicate this performance when it travels to Oakleigh on Friday night to take on rivals Oakleigh Cannons, in what promises to be an exciting match in front of a big crowd.