Monday, 14 July 2008 2:00 PM
By George Kouroumalis | Photo by Pavlos Touliatos
Green Gully has continued its recent home dominance over South Melbourne, defeating the Blues 1-0 thanks to a Joel Nikolic goal on Saturday.
The game promised to be a tough and dour affair from the outset, with the cold and extremely windy conditions on show at Green Gully Reserve.
In the opening half, Gully kicked with the aid of the gale force wind and nearly had the opener in the 7th minute, when a long ball by skipper Dean Fak floated over the South defence and into the path of Nikolic. With only goalkeeper Tommi Tomich to beat, Nikolic misjudged the pace of the ball, allowing for the ball to go out for a goal kick.
Nikolic was proving to be a headache for South and in the 17th minute he latched onto a sublime Matthew Sanders ball from the right hand flank and tried to back-heel the ball past Tomich. Thankfully for the South defence, Tomich was able to get down low enough to make a superb close range save.
South responded with an attack of their own. Nathan Caldwell was the recipient of a long ball from Shane Nunes. Caldwell controlled the ball with his chest and then opted to hit an ambitious volley from well outside the area and against the gusty wind. The shot was on target however was brilliantly saved by Steven Tilovski, who acrobatically moved to his left hand side and turned the ball away for a corner.
Caldwell once again was on hand to create another scoring chance for the Blues by playing an exemplary through-ball past the stagnant Green Gully defence and into the path of the speedy Goran Zoric. The hard-working midfielder then launched a low shot onto the target before being once again denied by Tilovski, who parried the ball back into the path of Zoric. From the rebound, Zoric then played a square ball to his left, which found the open De Nittis. With only Tilovski to beat, De Nittis disappointingly hit a weak left-footed shot wide of the target and out for goal kick.
Green Gully found themselves in front just before the break. A dangerous cross from down the right hand flank by Sanders was poorly dealt with by Tomich and the South defence, allowing for Nikolic to muscle his way into the area and tap the ball into the back of an unguarded net.
With South’s season hanging by a thread at half time, the away side came out with all guns blazing in the second half, missing early chances through both Caldwell and Futsalroo Fernando De Moraes. In the 52nd minute, some committed Gully defending once again thwarted a South attacking foray, when a superb run by Zoric culminated in a ball being played to Rama Tavsancioglu in space. The Blues captain hit a beautiful shot past Tilovski, only for the ball to be cleared off the goal line at the last minute to keep the score at 1-0.
South continued to pile on the pressure and controversially had a goal disallowed minutes later, when substitute Hamlet Armenian was adjudged to have headed the ball into the back of the net from an offside position. This further infuriated the away side and their supporters. With time running out, South had the final chance of the game in the 82nd minute. A sublime lobbed pass over Fak’s shoulder by Tavsancioglu released Caldwell inside the area. After a great first touch, Caldwell then hit a well-struck volley onto the target, however Tilovski once again stayed low and kept the ball out with a fine save.
The win consolidates Green Gully’s position in the top two, whilst South now sit 5 points outside of the top six. Gully’s next match is a trip to Jack Edwards Reserve next Sunday to face the Oakleigh Cannons. On the same day South faces another difficult assignment, this time at home to the Melbourne Knights in a derby match that the Blues simply must win in order to have any chance of reaching the finals this season. To put the team under further pressure, another loss at Bob Jane Stadium this season will confirm South’s worst home record in a season at the stadium since moving there in the 1995/96 NSL season. Currently South has lost at Bob Jane Stadium on five occasions this season, equaling the current record (the 1996/97 NSL season and the 2007 Foxtel Cup season). Kick-off for the match against the Knights is at 3pm next Sunday.