Friday, 24 May 2013 9:14 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC hosts the Oakleigh Cannons at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening in what is a must-win game for the Club.
Peter Tsolakis’ men go into the game having suffered a 3-2 defeat against Hume City at Broadmeadows Valley Park last Sunday afternoon. Two quick goals from Turhan Sumbul and Atilla Ofli gave Hume an early 2-0 lead in the first half, however a first half injury time penalty by Dimi Hatzimouratis and a powerful header by centre-half Shaun Kelly on the hour mark drew South level, before substitute Sean Canham gave Hume the three points with a goal nine minutes from time. It was South’s second away defeat in a row. Oakleigh Cannons also head into Sunday’s match on the back of a defeat, having lost 0-1 against Dandenong Thunder at Jack Edwards Reserve last Friday night.
A major positive for South last week was the return of centre-forward Trent Rixon, who managed to play out the full game and win the penalty that got South back into the contest. Rixon had not played for the Club since coming on as a substitute in the final game of last season against Heidelberg United on Sunday 16 September 2012. Right-back Tom Matthews also appeared in the Senior side for the first time since that Heidelberg match, coming on as a substitute after 82 minutes last Sunday. South is sorely missing the services of Alan Kearney, who has not played since picking up an injury against Southern Stars on 13 April but there is a chance that he will play on Sunday. Dimi Tsiaras copped a few nasty challenges against Hume but is expected to be available for the Oakleigh match on Sunday, as will Renco Van Eeken, who came off the bench against Hume having pulled up sore from the Richmond game on 12 May.
Sunday evening’s match gives South an excellent opportunity to win its second home match in the Victorian Premier League this season as Oakleigh are currently struggling in ninth spot on the ladder. However new coach Miron Bleiberg has plenty of players capable of defeating South, with the likes of Lewis Italiano in goal as well as former South players Ricky Diaco, Goran Zoric and Jesse Krncevic. Italiano in particular has been outstanding since returning to the Victorian Premier League and will prove very difficult to get past on Sunday. In the 17 matches that the two sides have played against each other in the Victorian Premier League, South has won eight, Oakleigh has won six and there have been three draws. In the corresponding fixture at Lakeside Stadium last season on Sunday 8 July 2012, a superb Glen Trifiro free kick (13’) and a Tsiaras back post tap-in from Trifiro’s corner (62’) gave South a two goal lead before Diaco’s late free kick (89’) gave the home side a brief scare before it held on to deservedly win 2-1.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 5PM at Lakeside Stadium. Memberships and merchandise will be available for collection and purchase.