Tuesday, 19 August 2008 4:31 PM
By George Kouroumalis
Photo by Peter Kakalias courtesy of Goal Weekly
Retiring legend Dean Anastasiadis produced a Man of the Match performance to ensure that South shared the spoils in the 1-1 draw against the Whittlesea Zebras at Bob Jane Stadium on Sunday.
With the club already out of the finals race due to Heidelberg and Preston winning their respective games, South went into the contest requiring only a single point to secure their position in the Foxtel Cup for the 2009 season. On the other hand, Whittlesea was fighting for survival in the Foxtel Cup, needing a win to try and leap out of the relegation zone and overtake South or Coburg.
The home side started the game in an attacking mood, going close in the 3rd minute when a Gianni De Nittis attempt went wide of the target.
However ten minutes later the energetic striker found the net. The goal was almost identical to the winning goal scored by De Nittis in the Grand Final in 2006, when a well-weighted and inch-perfect Fernando cross was met by the incoming De Nittis, who calmly headed the ball into the back of the net.
With Whittlesea’s position in the Foxtel Cup for 2009 hanging by a thread, the Zebras almost responded moments later, when a Goran Talevski run culminated in the defender hitting a superb strike onto the target. However Anastasiadis would not be denied and he made a crucial save to keep the home side ahead.
South continued to pile on the pressure in an attempt to double their advantage and a speculative shot by Fernando, as well as a audacious overhead attempt by Hamlet Armenian were two golden chances that went either side of the upright, with the Armenian volley taking a sizable deflection off a Zebras defender.
With South controlling possession and play in general, a quick Zebras counter attack ended with a stinging long-range shot by Talevski that forced yet another solid save by Anastasiadis. In an unlucky twist for the veteran, the ball fell into the path of Steve Martin, who slammed the ball into the back of the net, ensuring his side would go into the break on level terms and denying the big South custodian a clean sheet in his farewell game.
South were not satisfied in being level and in the second half went searching for another goal. Despite creating several opportunities, nothing got past Robert Simeoni in the Zebras goal. In a rather uninspiring half of football, South’s main chance came with eight minutes to go on the clock, when substitute Goran Zoric darted past a host of stagnant Whittlesea defenders before hitting a drive wide of the target.
The desperate Zebras went forward in one final attempt to pinch a late winning goal but were denied by Anastasiadis, whose class save gave South the precious point it needed to be assured of safety from the drop zone. In what was a well-constructed move, Taleveski turned provider by playing an excellent ball into the path of Ryan O’Hare. With just Anastasiadis to beat, O’Hare was acrobatically denied by the big goalkeeper.
The final whistle signaled the end of a magnificent career for ‘Deano’, after representing the club for 10 seasons and 158 league games. In a fitting farewell, he was chaired from the ground by his teammates, after thanking the home fans for their support over the years.