Friday, 11 October 2013 9:35 AM
By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC plays in its first Victorian Premier League Preliminary Final since 2005 when it travels to SS Anderson Reserve to play Northcote City on Sunday afternoon. The winning side will book itself a spot in the 2013 VPL Grand Final to be played against the Bentleigh Greens at AAMI Park next Saturday 19 October.
South qualified for the Preliminary Final thanks to the hard-fought 0-1 victory against their old rivals Melbourne Knights in the Minor Semi Final at Somers Street last Friday night. Trent Rixon’s goal after 67 minutes proved to be the difference between the two sides as Peter Gavalas and his defence managed to claim a third successive clean sheet. The following evening, Northcote played Bentleigh in the Major Semi Final at SS Anderson Reserve and lost 1-2 in extra time following a 1-1 draw after normal time. The win ensured Bentleigh a straight passage through to the Grand Final, whilst allowing Northcote a second chance to qualify for the Grand Final by playing South on Sunday.
Northcote City and South have faced each other three times in 2013 in both League and Cup competitions with mixed results. Their first meeting was in the Fifth Round of the State Knockout Cup on Monday 10 June as South defeated Northcote 3-2 (Brad Norton scoring the winning goal in extra time following a 2-2 draw after normal time) to progress to the Quarter Final stage. Just under two weeks later the two sides met in the League (Sunday 23 June) as Northcote smashed an extremely disappointing South side 3-0 at John Cain Memorial Park. The reverse League fixture at Lakeside Stadium was played on Saturday 14 September, when Trent Rixon’s late header cancelled Evan Kounavelis’ earlier goal to make the final score 1-1.
The last time South Melbourne played in the VPL Preliminary Final was on Sunday 11 September 2005 when it lost 1-0 against Heidelberg United at the Olympic Village in front of over 8,000 fans. South qualified for the 2006 VPL Grand Final the following season by defeating Altona Magic at Somers Street in the Major Semi Final, therefore earning the right to bypass the Preliminary Final and automatically confirm a spot in the Grand Final (like Bentleigh last weekend). Since 2006, South has not progressed further than the Minor Semi Final, when it was defeated 1-0 by Oakleigh Cannons on Sunday 21 August 2011.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 3pm at SS Anderson Reserve.