Friday, 30 August 2013 10:12 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC travel to Somers Street on Sunday afternoon to play old rivals Melbourne Knights in what is shaping up to being one of the most anticipated derbies between the two sides in recent history. Heading into Round 20, the Knights are in second place on the Victorian Premier League ladder and South is in fifth. A victory for the Knights could put them in equal first place on the ladder with Northcote City, whilst three points for South Melbourne could see it end the round in third spot.
The Knights and South have fought many great battles in both the State League and the National League but incredibly both sides have not featured in the same finals series since they joined the VPL in 2005. The Knights played in the finals in 2007 and 2008 (losing the 2008 Grand Final); South played in the 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011 finals series (winning the 2006 Grand Final) and both sides missed the finals in 2010 and 2012. Funnily enough, South coach Chris Taylor was in charge at the Knights when they played finals football in 2007 and 2008.
The Knights head into Sunday’s derby in winning form, having defeated Dandenong Thunder 0-1 at George Andrews Reserve last Friday night. The Knights have won three Leagues games in a row, including a remarkable come-from-behind 3-2 win against Bentleigh in their last home match on 18 August. South will go into the game also having won their last three League games in a row, with the most recent result being the 3-2 win against Pascoe Vale at Lakeside Stadium last Sunday evening. Chris Taylor’s side has picked up 13 out of a possible 15 points in its last five League games, with its last defeat in the League being back on 21 July (1-4 against Bentleigh Greens).
In the corresponding fixture played between the two sides at Knights Stadium on Sunday 12 August 2012, Joe Keenan (2’) opened the scoring for South before Jake Nakic tapped home (33’) and then hit a wonder strike from outside the area (55’) to give the Knights the lead. Shaun Kelly (76’) saved South’s blushes by volleying home from a corner in an entertaining game that finished 2-2.
In the earlier derby played this year on Sunday 16 June, first half goals from Ben Surey (8’) and Shayan Alinejad (30’) gave the Knights a 1-2 lead at halftime (Brad Norton scoring South’s goal on 24 minutes) before South leveled following an own goal (62’) by Knights defender and former South player Ljubo Milicevic in a game that also finished 2-2. Milicevic will not feature for the Knights this time around, having signed for A-League side Perth Glory a few weeks ago.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 3pm at Knights Stadium.