Wednesday, 30 March 2011 11:19 PM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC faces a tricky assignment on Sunday when it travels to Churchill Reserve for the first time since 2005 to play a St Albans Saints side in desperate need for three points.
The away team will be going into the match confident of continuing a four match unbeaten run in the Victorian Premier League that began against Bentleigh on 6 March and has included notable victories against Oakleigh and the Melbourne Knights along the way. However in South’s way will be a St Albans side playing on its home ground and treating Sunday’s contest as ‘do-or-die’ in terms of changing its form around to ensure survival in the VPL. The Saints were promoted back into the Premier League as State League One Champions at the end of 2010 and despite managing a positive opening-round draw against Hume City on 20 February, St Albans has only managed one point since.
South goes into Sunday’s game full of confidence after coming from a goal down with 11 minutes to play to seal a stunning 3-1 victory against a strong Melbourne Knights side in last weekend’s derby. All three of South’s substitutes had immediate impact, with Daniel Vasilevski and Kyle Joryeff both scoring and Kamal Ibrahim setting up Jesse Krncevic for South’s go-ahead goal. Joryeff also drew the foul that led to Vasilevski’s fantastic free kick to level the match. Despite some minor scares, the defence continues to improve. At the other end of the field, South continues to score goals freely and is slowly consolidating itself in the top five on the ladder.
In contrast, St Albans go into Sunday’s game on the back of a 2-0 defeat against Bentleigh last Friday night. Despite only managing two points from its first six matches of 2011, the Saints have shown at times to be a team more than capable of scoring goals and causing other sides major problems. The home side’s players will also be on notice this weekend following the departure of coach Kruni Razov after the defeat at Bentleigh. Although a replacement is not yet known, South’s players need to be switched on for Sunday’s game as teams always seem to lift in the next match following a change in management. There is also the unknown factor as many of South’s players have not played at Churchill Reserve since St Albans has not been in Victoria’s top football division for five seasons.
Many people may look at ladder positions and see a huge difference between the two sides, however form does not mean anything, especially as the last meeting between these two sides showed. St Albans’ last season in the Premier League was in 2005 and in that year on Sunday 29 May the high-flying South Melbourne travelled to Churchill Reserve to play the lowly Saints, whom South had beaten 1-0 at Lakeside Stadium on 6 February. George Tzirtis’ opening goal for the away team had many thinking the result would be a foregone conclusion, however two goals in the space of a couple of minutes midway through the first half by Ivan Filipovic and Ivan Razov had the Saints dreaming of a shock win. St Albans held the lead for an hour before Vaughan Coveny’s header in injury time at the end of the second half rescued a point for South.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 15:00 at Churchill Reserve (Melways reference 14 D10).