South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Preview: Local derby sees South travel to Port

Preview: Local derby sees South travel to Port

By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)

South Melbourne FC returns to National Premier League action on Friday night when it travels to SS Anderson Reserve to play Port Melbourne in a local derby.

South will go into the game in winning form, having opened its NPL season with a 3-0 victory over Heidelberg United on 13 March before backing that up with a 1-0 victory against Sunshine George Cross in the Fourth Round of the Dockerty Cup on 22 March. With two wins and two clean sheets to start 2014, Coach Chris Taylor will be expecting that the good form continues on Friday night. Port Melbourne goes into the game having drawn 2-2 with Dandenong Thunder in the League on 14 March before losing 0-3 against Northcote City on 22 March to bow out of Cup contention in 2014.

The away side will go into the game as the favourites, however what should not be taken lightly is the fact that Port Melbourne has enjoyed an excellent head-to-head record against South across all competitions. In the four games played between the two sides, Port Melbourne has won three, with South winning only once. As a State League One side, Port Melbourne knocked South out of the Dockerty Cup in both 2011 and 2012, both times in the Fifth Round and both times by the same score (2-1). In its first season back in the Victorian Premier League in 2013, Port defeated South 0-1 at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday 30 June. South finally defeated Port Melbourne when it won 0-4 at SS Anderson Reserve on the final day of the season on Sunday 22 September, with the win guaranteeing South a spot in the 2013 finals series at Port’s expense.

The players to watch out for in Eric Vassiliadis’ side are former South player Kamal Ibrahim and Lambros Honos, with Honos being the player that scored Port’s winning goal against South at Lakeside Stadium last season. Other key players include Nick Tzoulis (formerly of Northcote City), James and Phillip Riccobene (with James being a former South player) and vice captain Chris Grossman. For South, there are no major injury concerns and it is expected that Taylor has a full squad to choose from. It will be interesting to see who lines up in defence for South on Friday, as Brad Norton (left back) and Dimi Tsiaras (centre-back) started against Heidelberg in the League before being replaced by Andrew Mullett (left back) and James Musa (centre-back) in the starting line-up for the George Cross Cup match. Up front, it is expected that Jamie Reed will start alongside centre-forward Milos Lujic, who came on as a substitute in the Cup last weekend.

Friday night’s match kicks off at 8:30PM at SS Anderson Reserve.

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