Monday, 5 May 2008 12:30 PM
By George Kouroumalis & John Kyrou
A determined and disciplined home performance by South Melbourne has seen the Blues defeat the high-flying Richmond Eagles 1-0 in an entertaining game at Bob Jane Stadium on Sunday.
With an expectant crowd on hand, both clubs were keen on gathering all three points for different reasons. A win for the Eagles was important for the away side to further cement their position in the upper regions of the table, whilst a win for South was vital in allowing for the Blues to exit the relegation area and propel themselves into 8th position on the table.
South started the game the stronger of the two sides and launched their first attack on goal via a stinging drive in the 7th minute.
A storming run down the left hand flank by Goran Zoric culminated in the sharp midfielder putting a speculative shot wide of the target.
With a vocal home contingent behind them, South continued to pour on the early pressure and came within inches of scoring in the 11th minute. A well worked move saw Ricky Diaco stream down the field before playing a diagonal ball into the path of Gianni De Nittis. The youngster hit a horizontal ball to Fernando, who hit his shot wide of the target.
The home side was now completely dominating play and continued to pepper the Richmond goal. In the 14th minute, a speculative long-range drive by Sam Poutakidis found the target but failed to get past the prying arms of Richmond goalkeeper Stuart Webster.
Richmond dodged yet another bullet in the 20th minute, after a well-worked move ended with the ball at Fernando’s feet just on the edge of the area. The Brazilian hit a superb low drive past the outstretched Webster but the ball struck the inside of the far post and stayed out.
Richmond responded and launched their first real attacking foray of the match. With the South back four giving the highly-regarded Richmond front men no space at all, it was left to former South player George Goutzioulis to launch a speculative long-range drive onto the target. With the ball headed for the top corner, South captain and goalkeeper Dean Anastasiadis made a strong and athletic save to thwart the effort. Richmond continued to try and unlock the disciplined South defence via further long-range efforts. Another swirling shot by Goutzioulis saw the ball fly well away from the target.
South arguably had the best chance to take the lead in the 29th minute, when a superb interception by Zoric in his own half saw the hard-working winger claim possession, dart past a host of Richmond defenders and find himself in the box. Instead of taking the shot himself, Zoric opted to lay the ball off to the open Fernando. With only Webster to beat, Fernando made the wrong decision in trying to chip the oncoming keeper, which ended up flying over the bar for a goal kick.
South had the final chance of the first half in the 43rd minute, when an inch-perfect long ball by Adam Van Dommele was superbly flicked on by De Nittis into the path of Diaco. With Diaco seemingly in space, an excellent tackle by Richmond captain Stuart McCluskey saved the day for his side once again.
South continued their attacking mood in the second half, pushing forward to try to claim the opening goal. The goal arrived in the 47th minute, when a sweeping move culminated in the ball finding the feet of the elusive De Nittis up front. Although he scuffed his initial shot, De Nittis recaptured possession and slotted the ball underneath the oncoming Webster to open the scoring for the home side.
The Blues had a chance to double their advantage only moments later, when yet another counter attacking move saw Van Dommele dash forward and push to the ball out to Zoric on the left hand flank. Zoric, who was having a superb game, played a swinging ball into the six yard box. With both Diaco and De Nittis ready to pounce, Webster commanded his six yard box well and captured possession in an impressive fashion.
The game threatened to turn ugly only minutes later, when a bad challenge on Rama Tavsancioglu resulted in a mid-pitch scuffle with most of the players on the field taking part. However calm was quickly restored and the offending Richmond player received a yellow card, much to the disappointment of the South fans, who believed that the card should have been another colour.
With the South defence completely shutting down the Richmond attacking third, the home side continued to push forward and had several chances to finish the game off. De Nittis had two chances to score his second for the night in the 64th and 68th minutes, but on both occasions fired inches over the bar. Tavsancioglu also had a fantastic chance to score, when he gained possession in midfield and went on a storming run that got him into the penalty area, however as he was about to shoot the Richmond defence caught up and managed to deflect the shot away to safety.
Richmond missed a great chance to equalise in the 82nd minute. An inch-perfect cross from the left hand flank was met in the air by Richard Cardozo, who hit his powerful header wide of the target and out for a goal kick, ensuring that the three points remained at lakeside.
South will look to build on this great result as it travels to Epping Stadium next Sunday to take on the Whittlesea Zebras in a much-anticipated Mothers Day encounter.