Friday, 23 August 2013 10:27 AM
By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC faces another tough Victorian Premier League match on Sunday when it hosts Pascoe Vale at Lakeside Stadium. Following its 1-0 loss to Green Gully in the State Knockout Cup semi final on Wednesday night, the sole focus now for the rest of the season is the League and qualifying for the top five finals series. With Chris Taylor’s side sitting in fifth spot on goal difference, a win on Sunday is absolutely crucial in keeping itself in the top five and maintaining winning momentum in the League.
Despite the midweek Cup exit, South has been in excellent form over the past month and has not lost a League match since the 1-4 home defeat to the Bentleigh Greens on 21 July. Since then the Club has belted in 12 goals in two home matches, with 6-2 and 6-1 wins over Dandenong Thunder and Hume City respectively. Whilst another six goals would be fantastic on Sunday, Taylor will be more than happy with a 1-0 score line and the three points. Bryan Bran, Iqi Jawadi, Tim Mala, Nick Epifano and Luke Hopper are all expected to return to the starting eleven on Sunday after being Cup-tied midweek. It will be a battle to see who gets selected as goalkeeper, as Peter Gavalas was the Man of the Match in the League game against Oakleigh last weekend but Chris Maynard also enjoyed an extremely solid Cup game against Gully. Dimi Tsiaras resumed training during the week following a nasty hamstring injury sustained against Gully in the League on 7 July but it remains to be seen whether he will be in contention for a spot in the squad.
Pascoe Vale is an opponent not to be taken lightly, with the promoted side seven points ahead of relegation danger with only four League matches remaining (although second-bottom side Richmond have a game in hand). With familiar faces such as former South players Stefaan Sardelic, Jake Vandermey and Joseph Youssef, there is no doubt that Pascoe Vale is a team capable of winning at Lakeside Stadium and dinting South’s finals aspirations. In the earlier match played between the two sides this season on 1 June at Hosken Reserve, a stubborn Pascoe Vale side held a very wasteful South to a 0-0 draw despite being a man short for over 80 minutes of the game following Luca Santilli’s early red card. Mathematically, South can finish the round as high as third with a victory but can also finish as low as seventh with a loss.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 5PM at Lakeside Stadium.