Souths v Power

Round 7 report by Alan Clark
South Melbourne v Parramatta Power

South coach Mickey Petersen's post-match comments about what he perceives as refereeing inconsistency will likely be what produces the headlines in the daily press, rather than the one-one draw result of the game between South and Parramatta Power at Bob Jane on Sunday.

Petersen's comments are also likely to draw the ire of Soccer Australia, and perhaps result the club being fined.

"I have a real problem, for the game's sake, about refereeing consistency. I think they ruin the game," said Petersen. "In football you have your ups and downs and you've got to cope with that, but I just can't get over the lack of consistency with refereeing."

"It's really weighing the game down, in my opinion. I don't care what the rules are about saying it or not saying it," he said.

"I think the game has progressed, and far beyond the capability of referees. I'm not having a go at any individual referee - it's just the state I think we're in at the moment."

You get you money's worth at South Melbourne, but you have to stay until the curtain falls. Those who left before referee Mathew Breeze drew to an end this fascinating round seven contest would have missed John Anastasiadis' diving header to level the scores, deep into second-half added time, and with barely enough seconds remaining to allow Parramatta to re-start the game.

It was a cruel blow to Power, as their recent run had been poor, and this win would have set their season back on track again. As it is, Parramatta coach David Mitchell rued his side's turnover of the ball in the game's dying seconds.

"I'm obviously disappointed," said Mitchell. "There's ten seconds to go and we've got the ball down in the corner and give away a throw-in. I'm really disappointed for the players because they could have had their result."

"We rode our luck on a few occasions, but on the whole we defended very well and I was happy with it. It was a gutsy performance."

Power captain Alex Tobin had put Parramatta in front before the quarter-hour, and then successfully managed to defend that lead until the game was in its final throes.

What had so irked Petersen was an incident involving Power defender Nick Orlic, only last season a South player, who was booked early, then had no action taken against him after a wrestle with Paul Trimboli just before the half-hour.

"It's not about the incident. Nick (Orlic) is a great friend of mine and he's served the club well, but to me that is a blatant yellow-card offence."

"If we are going to get a player sent off for two celebrations in a game," he went on, referring to the double yellow-carding of striker Andy Vlahos in the first round game against Adelaide City, "and (the referees) are going to (apply) the letter of the law, to me (Orlic's clash) was a bookable offence."

In between Orlic's sixth-minute booking, and the incident that caused Petersen to draw into question refereeing standards, Orlic had intervened in a more orthodox manner.

Ahmad Elrich swung in a corner which Orlic managed to win in the air under challenge. The ball fell for Hamilton Thorp who shot, only to see it blocked and rebound to the edge of the penalty-area where Tobin lurked. Tobin's shot, on a ball coming towards him, was likely rehearsed countless times in training drills during his long and meritorious career. The practise paid off.

South peppered Parramatta goalkeeper Andrew Crews' goal throughout the game, sometimes bringing out the very best of Crews.

Con Boutsianis in particular set Crews tests which Crews reached into his best reserves to keep out.

Just before half-time came one such stellar moment.

South was awarded a free-kick 35 metres out and slightly to the right. This is a distance Boutsianis favours and he stepped up as anticipated. His left foot kick was arrowing into the upper-left of the goal until Crews made a spectacular diving save to turn it around the post for a corner.

The pace hotted up as the game's finish drew near. Power were successfully and capably defending South's forays, sometimes through South wastefulness, but more commonly through purpose and determination.

Boutsianis again had a wonderful opportunity to level with nine minutes of normal time remaining, after being set up by an exquisitely-played diagonal ball from Zjelko Susa, but after giving himself time to settle, Boutsianis shot wide.

Vas Kalogeracos, introduced as a late replacement for Andy Vlahos, ensured the pace never slackened. Trimboli and David Clarkson had combined productively to set up Kalogeracos, but his shot went over.

Anastasiadis had also been introduced off the bench, and was denied by an excellent diving save from Crews after getting his head on the end of a sweet move from Boutsianis, again set up by the sublime vision of Susa.

Anastasiadis came even closer just one minute later, and with the seconds ticking by, pounded the ground in frustration as his header this time cannoned off the cross-bar with Crews well beaten after again being supplied by Susa.

The South supporters thought they had finally netted when Boutsianis put the ball past Crews, but an offside decision was correctly called, much to their vociferous disapproval. Ironically, there was a delay in the game which resulted from the need to clear plastic bottles thrown onto the park by the less-well evolved members of the South support behind Crews' goal.

Five minutes of added time was signalled, and it was with the last effective touch of the game that Anastasiadis was able to level the scores with his header, supplied from the right by Kalogeracos, but once again involving Susa in the set-up.