Friday, 19 April 2013 12:21 AM
By John Kyrou
The Bentleigh Greens host South Melbourne FC at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Friday night in what is an early top-of-the-table clash in the 2013 Victorian Premier League season.
Both sides go into Friday’s fixture having won their opening two matches of the season. In addition, both sides completed resounding away victories last weekend; Bentleigh defeated defending Victorian Premier League Champions Dandenong Thunder 0-3 at George Andrews Reserve on Saturday afternoon and South defeated the Southern Stars by the same score at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex later that night. Marinos Gasparis scored a double whilst Shaun Kelly scored a late half-volley to continue South’s winning start to 2013.
South Melbourne return to Kingston Heath Soccer Complex for the second week in a row to face a Bentleigh side that has proven to be a bogey team in recent times. In fact South’s last away defeat in the Victorian Premier League arrived at the hands of the Greens in the corresponding fixture last season on Friday 15 June 2012, when a Luke O’Dea penalty ten minutes from time proved to be the difference between the two sides. Since then South has been undefeated in the Victorian Premier League in a run that began from the 2-2 draw at Epping Stadium against Moreland Zebras on 1 July 2012.
Bentleigh not only was the last team to defeat a South side on the road, they were also the side that killed off South’s finals chances at Lakeside Stadium on 9 September 2012. Andy Vlahos’ 78th minute goal looked like it would be enough to give a dominant South the victory it needed in its quest for finals football, however Scott Bulloch’s equalising goal in the second minute of injury time meant that South could not mathematically qualify for the finals despite a final-round 5-2 victory against Heidelberg . As a result, South missed the finals by a single point.
The influential Alan Kearney came off injured at the end of the Southern Stars match last week, however initial fears of an ACL injury were short-lived as Kearney will only miss 1-2 weeks with a knock on the knee. In further positive news, Tom Matthews and Trent Rixon trained strongly during the week and may even be considered to play for the Under-21s to work on their fitness as they seek a return to the senior side.
South will equal its previous record of keeping three consecutive clean sheets at the start of a season if it does not concede on Friday night. South did not concede in the opening three matches of the 1973 Victorian State League season, between 1 April 1973 and 15 April 1973. That included a 0-0 draw against Melbourne Hungaria, a 0-1 win against Fitzroy Alexander (Heidelberg United) and a 0-0 draw against St Kilda Hakoah.
Friday’s match kicks off at 8:15PM at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex.
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