Wednesday, 15 April 2009 9:35 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC travels to Green Gully Reserve on Saturday to take on fifth-placed Green Gully in what is shaping up as a very important match for the club. With Oakleigh and Richmond drawing 1-1 in their round 7 match on Easter Monday, an away victory for South will secure third spot in the league and possibly even second depending on Heidelberg’s result against the Melbourne Knights on Monday.
A positive result is also vitally important because should he play, captain Rama Tavsancioglu will celebrate his 100th league game for the club, a milestone only 36 other players have reached since South entered the National Soccer League in 1977. There will be another milestone broken should Vaughan Coveny score, as he is one goal off 100 league goals for South Melbourne FC over a 12 season career in both the NSL and the Victorian Premier League.
Despite the forthcoming milestones, the home side will no doubt make South’s task as hard as possible to achieve. History shows that South has not beaten Gully away in a league match since round 21 of the 1986 NSL season. On that September day, a goal each from Bobby Russell and Manny Anezakis led South to a 0-2 win. This means that South has not beaten Gully away in nearly 23 years. Since resuming in the VPL in 2005, South has picked up only one draw from 5 matches at Green Gully Reserve and lost the rest. To make matters worse, South has failed to score there in all five matches. With Gully only one place below South in the league standings heading into this fixture, there is no doubt that the away side will face a tough opponent. In the corresponding fixture last season, South had a bucketload of chances but could not stop Gully from winning 1-0.
While the above facts seem daunting, South can go into the fixture full of confidence after winning four games in a row, with the last result being a comprehensive 3-0 belting of ladder leaders Richmond at Bob Jane Stadium. Speaking afterwards, coach Michael Michalakopoulos was not fazed about Saturday’s trip, mentioning that “my job and the players’ job is to make sure statistics like the Gully one are erased and we are looking forward to doing that.” With Coveny motivated to score his ton and Goran Zoric on fire up forward (six goals in 6 games has him as the league’s leading goal scorer), South probably has its best chance yet of breaking the hoodoo on Saturday.
Gully heads into the match on the back of its first defeat of the season against Altona Magic. However prior to this the Cavaliers won 4 of their opening 5 matches and did not concede a goal in the process. This set a record as Gully became the first team to go through the opening five rounds without conceding since the Victorian State League was renamed the Victorian Premier League in 1991. Gully has a very strong team, with players such as Steven Tilovski, Joel Nikolic, Andy Vargas, Kole Delev, Jeffrey Fleming and Pablo Cardozo all capable of destroying South. Cardozo in particular will need to be monitored closely. Despite only netting once this season, he hit 21 goals from 23 matches last season for Richmond.
Saturday’s match will kick off at 4pm. All South supporters are encouraged to make the trip to Keilor Downs to support the team whilst potentially celebrating Rama’s 100th match and Coveny’s 100th league goal for the club.