Friday, 13 April 2012 11:33 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC travels to Green Gully Reserve on Saturday afternoon attempting to break a 26 year hoodoo at the ground when it takes on Green Gully.
South heads into the game on the back of two victories in its opening two Victorian Premier League matches, its best start to a VPL season since the Championship winning year of 2006. Prior to the Easter break, South defeated promoted Moreland Zebras 4-0 at Lakeside Stadium before three second half goals choked the Oakleigh Cannons 1-3 at Jack Edwards Reserve.
Coach Peter Tsolakis has a near full strength squad to choose from, with all players in excellent form. Left-back Rhodri Payne trained well during the week and will be in contention for a recall to the senior squad following a pre-season injury that prevented him from playing in the opening two rounds. Joe ‘Crackers’ Keenan, who spent all of 2011 injured, came off the bench against the Cannons and scored within seven minutes before playing the long ball forward that resulted in Trent Rixon’s 94th minute goal. Keenan will also be in contention for a starting place, as will Dimi Hatzimouratis, who has been solid as a substitute. The likes of Marinos Gasparis and Gianni De Nittis also need to be considered. The only concern is right back Tom Matthews, who sustained an injury at training during the week and may be unavailable to play. If so, Tsolakis may opt to put Payne into left-back and switch Bradley Norton to the right.
Back-to-back Champions Green Gully have started 2012 inconsistently, losing against Bentleigh Greens 4-1 in the opening round before defeating Heidelberg United 4-0 in the second round. Gully have traditionally started the VPL season slowly before powering home in the later rounds and more often than not winning the Championship after a strong finals series. One of Gully’s biggest strengths is their ability to grind out results no matter who the opposition or what personnel are in their team on any given match day.
It is well known that one of South’s bogey grounds is Green Gully Reserve, a venue that South have not tasted victory in since 8th September 1986, when goals from Bobby Russell and Manny Anezakis gave the away side a 0-2 victory. South has not defeated Green Gully at their venue since returning to the Victorian Premier League in 2005. In fact South has only managed two points from a possible 21, which does not even include the penalty shoot-out loss against Gully in the Major Semi Final in 2005. In further bad news, South has only scored four times at Green Gully Reserve since that win in 1986. In the corresponding fixture last season on 14th May 2011, two Fernando De Moraes penalties were not enough in a 3-2 loss.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 3:00pm at Green Gully Reserve.
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