South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Blues defeat committed Pines

Blues defeat committed Pines

Monday, 19 May 2008 8:55 AM

By George Kouroumalis

South Melbourne has continued its excellent form under new coach Michael Michalakopoulos with an impressive 3-1 home victory against bottom-placed Frankston on Sunday afternoon.

The Frankston outfit arrived at Bob Jane Stadium ready to give everything for new manager Doug Hodgson, with the recently appointed coach having stamped his authority on the club with a fortnight of hard and committed football.

With that mindset instilled in all of the players, Frankston began the match strongly and were rewarded only five minutes into the contest. A corner played to the near post was turned into the back of the net by Daniel Miller. The goal was somewhat sweet for Miller, who had trialled with South in the pre-season before joining the Pines.

South responded almost immediately, with a stinging counter-attack of their own. On this occasion a superb tackle by Tony La Verde saw the ball find its way into the path of Goran Zoric, who proceeded to dash down the left hand flank and past a host of stagnant Frankston defenders. With two men in the middle, Zoric put a dangerous cross into the six yard box, only for the ball to be collected by Frankston goalkeeper Peter Zois.

With the away side content to sit back and defend their slender advantage, the home team could not muster another opportunity until the 26th minute, when a sublime run by Rama Tavsancioglu ended with the ball finding the feet of Ricky Diaco. From just outside the area, Diaco hit a stinging drive over the bar. South continued to push forward at every opportunity and some terrific goalkeeping by Zois thwarted two long-range efforts by Diaco and La Verde.

In the 42nd minute, yet another well-constructed South move forward saw the ball played into the adventurous Tavsancioglu just outside the area. After taking a touch and streaming past a defender, the hard-working midfielder was fouled just inside the area, with the referee pointing to the penalty spot and issuing a yellow card to the offending Pines defender. Diaco stepped up and calmly slotted the ball to the left of Zois, who had dived to his right, to ensure that the home side would go into halftime level with the visitors.

South continued to pile on the pressure early in the second half and half-chances fell to both Diaco and Hamlet Armenian, but neither player was able to capitalize on them. The pressure looked to have paid off in the 54th minute when South were awarded yet another penalty after Tavsancioglu was once again brought down in the area. However the celebrations by the players and home supporters were premature, as Diaco’s penalty was saved by Zois, who once again dived to his right and this time kept the ball out of the goal.

South continued to waste good opportunities in front of goal as the Pines defence began to get on top of the contest. As a result, Michalakopoulos opted to make a surprise change and introduced Fernando De Moraes into the contest. The classy Fernando had only just returned to the country after representing the Futsalroos in the AFC Tournament in Thailand two days earlier. The substitution paid off immediately, when in the 72nd minute Fernando launched a stinging left-footed drive from well outside the area past a hapless Zois to give his side the lead.

With the strong South faithful in celebration mode, a well-constructed move by the Blues saw Zoric once again rip a hole in the hearts of the Frankston defence, before playing an inch-perfect ball into the path of Diaco. With the disappointment of the penalty miss still fresh in his mind, Diaco slammed the ball into the back of the net to give South a well-deserved 3-1 victory and ensure the club’s third victory in a row.

The hard-working Frankston side must re-group before taking on the Oakleigh Cannons next Friday night. In contrast, South will now head into next Sunday’s derby game at Bob Jane Stadium against bitter rival Heidelberg United full of confidence and hopeful of seeking revenge on the 2-1 loss at the Olympic Village in the first round this season. Kick-off is at 4pm.

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