Friday, 13 July 2012 9:16 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC host Green Gully at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday afternoon in what is shaping up to be a blockbuster match. A win for South could see the Club end the round in the top five, an amazing turnaround in fortunes from three weeks ago when it was in ninth position on the Victorian Premier League ladder and only a few points away from dropping into the relegation zone.
South’s good form in recent weeks has seen victories against rivals Heidelberg (2-1) and Oakleigh (2-1) as well as being desperately unlucky not to defeat the Moreland Zebras in an exciting 2-2 draw. These results have seen the Blues slowly climb up the VPL ladder and be in a position where a victory over the reigning VPL champions this Sunday has the potential to have South creep to within a point of third place on the ladder, the position currently occupied by Gully.
New signing Steve Burton excelled on debut for South last weekend against Oakleigh and was unlucky not to score at least twice in the 2-1 victory against the Cannons. Instead South had Glen Trifiro and man of the match Dimi Tsiaras to thank for getting the goals that secured the three points against the Cannons, who gave South a late scare in the final minute when Ricky Diaco’s free kick deflected off Tom Matthews’ foot and wrong-footed Peter Gavalas. South old boy Andy Vlahos returned for his second stint at Lakeside Stadium and his late appearance off the substitutes’ bench showed that he hadn’t lost his trademark pace and skill. More positive signs from South was Joe Keenan appearing off the bench following a recent injury, as well as the excellent performances by Tsiaras and Matthews and a big general improvement by all players. This will need to be repeated on Sunday against what will be a very difficult opponent.
Green Gully will not be giving three points up easily this weekend, as the Cavaliers traditionally are a very tough opponent to break down and are masters of grinding out results. South has never defeated Gully at Green Gully Reserve since returning to the VPL in 2005 and has achieved mixed home results against them. In the eight League matches played between the two sides at South’s home ground (either Lakeside Stadium or John Cain Memorial Park), South has won 3, drawn 3 and lost twice. In the corresponding match played in the opening round of last season (Sunday 20 February 2011), Jesse Krncevic’s early goal was cancelled out by Brent Fisher’s second half goal in the 1-1 draw at John Cain Memorial Park. South’s last match against Gully at Lakeside Stadium was the season before (Sunday 21 March 2010), when a Fernando De Moraes double, including a penalty and a wonder goal from outside the area, was enough to defeat Gully 2-1 despite Gary Wales’ goal for the Cavaliers. Earlier this season in round 3 (Saturday 14 April), Gully smashed South 3-1 at Green Gully Reserve to bring the Blues back to Earth after South began the season with two big wins. The home side will be hoping that there is no repeat of this on the weekend.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 5:00PM at Lakeside Stadium. South fans are encouraged to come down in numbers and support their team as they strive to end the round back in the top five.