Monday, 4 May 2009 12:10 AM
Photo by Craig Varty
A stubborn and disciplined defensive performance by Oakleigh has seen the Cannons leave Bob Jane Stadium with a point after an entertaining 0-0 draw.
In front of a healthy home crowd, South Melbourne came out of the blocks in storming fashion, almost scoring in the 2nd minute. With the keeper stranded following on from some poor marking, Steven O’Dor hit a shot at the target, only to be thwarted by the acrobatic Adrian Cagalj. From the rebound and with Cagalj on the ground, the resulting shot was hit in identical fashion, with Cagalj somehow saving his club once again.
South continued to dominate the match from that point and continued to test Cagalj from long range, with both Vaughan Coveny and Rama Tavsancioglu being thwarted twice by the experienced custodian.
Despite South having the bulk of possession, South was unable to muster many more meaningful chances for the remainder of the half. Most of the chances came via free-kicks awarded just outside the area, most of which either flew wide of Cagalj or that were saved by the veteran goalkeeper. The closest free-kick opportunity, happened just before the break when a swinging and dipping free-kick by Fernando was plucked from the top corner brilliantly by Cagalj.
The second half continued in exactly the same manner as the first, with South continuing to pile on the pressure, whilst also dominating the possession.
With star players Ricky Diaco and Bill Damianos out for the away side, coach John Anastasiadis was content with sitting players behind the ball and attempting to hit South Melbourne on the counter attack via the quick Jerry Karpeh and vertan Juan Nilo.
Karpeh had his only meaningful chance of the game in the 53rd minute, when the former Floreat Athena (WA) player got past the South defence and hit a wild shot from long range. With the keeper in a good position, the ball swung well wide and out for a goal-kick.
In response, South continued to pile on the pressure, bombarding the Cannons 18 yard box at every possible opportunity.
In the 64th minute the home side thought they had the opening goal when Gianni De Nittis unlocked the defence to play an exquisite through ball into the path of Coveny. With Cagalj to beat, Coveny hit the close range shot way over the bar to the disappointment of the home crowd.
Coveny came close again in both the 68th and 72nd minutes when he headed two firm chances into the arms of the prying Cagalj, who was in exceptional form.
With time ticking away, yet another ball by De NIttis unlocked the Oakleigh defence, bouncing into the path of the Fernando in the box. In an awkward position and with a defender on his tail, Fernando hit a volley just over the bar.
With 7 shots on goal in the final 10 minutes, South were unable to unlock the Cannons defence, with the only threatening shot to hit the target by Fernando being curled around the corner acrobatically by Cagalj.
As the whistle blew, Oakleigh were content to take the point from Lakeside that would see them jump Hume City into 7th position, whilst South will move into outright second position on 17 points, knowing that they could fall to third place after the Richmond vs. Heidelberg game on Monday night.
Next week South Melbourne will host Altona Magic at Bob Jane Stadium on Sunday.