South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Match Preview: Richmond Eagles v SMFC

Match Preview: Richmond Eagles v SMFC

Wednesday, 8 July 2009 2:50 PM

By John Kyrou

South Melbourne FC travels to Kevin Bartlett Reserve on Friday night to face Richmond knowing that a win or draw will keep the team in second spot on the league table. However the task at hand will not be made easy against a Richmond side out to make amends after being the first side to lose against Preston this season.

South heads into the match on the back of a comfortable 4-0 home victory against the Whittlesea Zebras in the previous round, giving the club a three game unbeaten run. In fact South has only been defeated once in 14 matches, an excellent achievement considering the struggles in recent seasons to achieve consistently good form. Also of a pleasing note is the fact that South is the highest scoring team in the league, with 35 goals from 16 matches.

Goran Zoric’s double against the Zebras took his individual tally for 2009 to double figures, with an excellent return of 10 goals from 16 games. Two more goals for Zoric will see him equal teammate Fernando De Moraes’ 12 goals in 2006. This is the highest individual tally for a South player since the club resumed life back in the Victorian Premier League. Sadly for Zoric, he still needs another 13 goals if he is to break Jim Armstrong’s club record of 22 goals in a State League season that was set in the championship-winning season of 1974.

Richmond started the 2009 season in excellent form, with four wins and a draw in their opening five matches seeing the Eagles soar to the top of the league. However it was South that inflicted the Eagles’ first defeat in the sixth round at Bob Jane Stadium and since then Richmond has struggled, with only one win in its last 11 matches. The worst of the lot was the 2-1 loss at Preston in the previous round, with the Eagles becoming the first side to lose to the Lions in 2009.

Though Richmond is third-last on the ladder, finals are still a mathematical possibility (being 9 points behind 5th position with six rounds remaining). With teams always taking points off each other, the Eagles could very well get themselves back into finals reckoning with a win on Friday night. Richmond will also be encouraged by the fact that they won the corresponding fixture 2-0 last season, thanks to a double from Pablo Cardozo (76’, 90’) that all but confirmed a spot in the finals for the Eagles and confirmed an early end to the season for South.

A point on Friday night will be enough for South to remain in second place, however with extremely tough assignments against Green Gully and Hume coming up, a win against Richmond is crucial. If other results go the right way and South wins, the Blues could end the weekend four points clear of third. This would provide the Blues with a handy gap ahead of around six other clubs also pushing for a finals spot.

Richmond first played against South Melbourne FC in 1961, with the first league meeting between the two sides ending in a 6-1 win for South at Middle Park. Antonis Hatzieleftheriou and Terry Budgen scored doubles, with John Hatzigeorgiou and Peter Tzaponis also scoring. South also had success in the return fixture, winning 3-4 thanks to a double from George Papadopoulos and singles to Stratos Kalogeros and Savvas Salapasidis.

Richmond were relegated in 1961, but returned to the State League in 1963. South Melbourne FC defeated Richmond 4-2 at Middle Park in round six before being held to a 2-2 draw at Olympic Park in the second round of matches. It was a different story in the Dockerty Cup, with South destroying Richmond 6-0 in the First Round. The next time the sides met in a league match was 43 years later, when a late Scott MacNicol goal was enough to hand South Melbourne FC a 2-1 win over Richmond at Bob Jane Stadium in 2006.

In all, the sides have met each other in ten league matches since 1961, with South triumphing seven times, Richmond twice and with just a single draw between the two teams.

Friday night’s match kicks off at 8:30pm at Kevin Bartlett Reserve (Melways reference 45 A12).

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