Friday, 14 September 2012 8:36 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC completes its 2012 season when it travels to Olympic Village to take on traditional rival Heidelberg United on Sunday afternoon. Despite the result of the match being meaningless due to South’s inability to qualify for the finals and Heidelberg already doomed to relegation, both sides will be keen on getting three points for one final laugh against their respective opponents.
South go into Sunday’s game on the back of a heartbreaking 1-1 draw against Bentleigh Greens last Sunday at Lakeside Stadium. South needed to win to keep its finals hopes alive and had the precious goal it needed when substitute Andy Vlahos headed home in the 78th minute. It was a disaster from then on, as Glen Trifiro limped off with an ankle injury and then Dimi Tsiaras was red carded for a last-man foul, reducing South to nine players as the home side had used up all of their substitutions. The Blues managed to hold out until the 92nd minute when Scott Bulloch’s neat finish killed South’s season and rendered the Heidelberg game meaningless. Both players will obviously be missing for this weekend’s game.
The positive news for South is the availability of Trent Rixon on Sunday, as the striker has served his suspension obtained against Richmond on Friday 20 July. Coach Peter Tsolakis may opt to rest goalkeeper Peter Gavalas and give Under-21s goalkeeper Jason Saldaris his debut in the VPL. Saldaris has played in the Under-21s all season and only featured in the Senior team in the Cup game against Malvern City on Sunday 29 April. Some of the Club’s younger players may be given extended time on the field on Sunday and Captain Steven O’Dor may also be recalled after not being used off the substitutes’ bench against Bentleigh last weekend. A good win against Heidelberg should see South finish the season in sixth place, however a loss could see the side finish as low as ninth.
Heidelberg will finish the season in last place on the VPL ladder and will be in State League 1 next season; however that will not stop the Bergers from attempting to defeat South one final time in League competition. The Bergers have a very good record against South in recent times at Olympic Village, enjoying four wins and one draw in the last five games between the teams at the ground. In fact South’s last victory against Heidelberg at Olympic Village was on Sunday 5 February 2006, when Jonas Salley (90+1’) and Tansel Baser (90+3’) scored late goals to earn the three points for South. Heidelberg has not tasted victory in the League this season since Sunday 5 August, when it defeated the Melbourne Knights 2-1 at Olympic Village. Since then it has only managed to pick up a solitary point against Northcote and has lost every other game, including the basement battle last weekend against second-last placed Moreland Zebras 4-1.
Earlier on this season (Sunday 24 June), a powerful finish at the near post by Jason Trifiro (19’) and a second-half deflected goal from Brad Norton (55’) was enough for a relieved South to defeat Heidelberg 2-1 at Lakeside Stadium. In the corresponding match played between the two sides last season at Olympic Village (Sunday 13 March 2011), Jesse Krncevic (28’) and a Marinos Gasparis header deep into injury time earned Eddie Krncevic’s South side a 2-2 draw against the Bergers. That result broke a four-game losing run at the Village for South.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 3PM at Olympic Village.