Friday, 27 September 2013 9:32 AM
By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC hosts Green Gully in the 2013 Victorian Premier League Elimination Final at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It is the first time that South has played in the finals series since 2011 and the first time it has hosted a finals match at Lakeside Stadium since 2006. The winner of the match will play the loser of the Melbourne Knights and Bentleigh Greens in the Minor Semi Final next weekend.
Both South and Green Gully won their respective matches on the final day of the regular season last Sunday to secure a finals position. Gully defeated Dandenong Thunder 3-1 at Green Gully Reserve and South put on a commanding display to defeat Port Melbourne 0-4 at SS Anderson Reserve. Tyson Holmes’ header in the first half sent South on their way before a second-half double from Trent Rixon (including a penalty) and a late header from substitute Brad Norton secured the three points for the away side and the right to host the Elimination Final this weekend.
The two sides have met three times already this season across League and Cup competitions and the results have been mixed. South took first honours on the opening day of the VPL season on Saturday 6 April with a 0-3 victory at Green Gully Reserve thanks to goals from Brad Norton, Marinos Gasparis and Renco Van Eeken. Gully returned the favour with a 1-3 victory at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday 7 July thanks to goals from Osagie Ederaro, Jason Hayne and Daniel Jones, with Andy Vlahos’ thunderbolt free kick being South’s only goal of the afternoon. The two sides then met in the Semi Finals of the State Knockout Cup on Wednesday 21 August, with Hayne’s second half goal proving to be the difference as Gully won 0-1 before defeating Dandenong Thunder in the Cup Final a few weeks later.
Lakeside Stadium plays host to a South Melbourne FC finals match for the first time since Sunday 24 September 2006, when Gianni De Nittis’ header from Fernando De Moraes’ cross in the 63rd minute proved to be the difference as South beat Altona Magic 1-0 in the VPL Grand Final to secure its eighth Victorian State League championship in front of 5,125 fans. Since that wonderful day, South missed the finals in 2007 and 2008 before losing the 2009 Elimination Final against Hume City at Epping Stadium. South missed the 2010 finals series before it hosted (and defeated) Heidelberg United in the 2011 Elimination Final, however the match was played at SS Anderson Reserve due to Lakeside Stadium being redeveloped at the time.
Ironically, South’s Championship year saw it host Green Gully in the First Elimination Final at Lakeside Stadium on Friday 1 September 2006. Late goals from Fernando De Moraes’ free kick (83’), George Tzirtis (89’) and an Andreas Oliveira penalty (90’) sent South on its way to the Championship. South coach Chris Taylor will be more than delighted with a similar score on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s match kicks off at Lakeside Stadium at 5pm. South fans are reminded that 2013 membership cards cannot be used for entry to the match, with free entry only for those with 2013 FFV Media Passes.