By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC will look to continue its winning start to 2014 when it travels to Green Gully on Saturday afternoon. A win at Green Gully Reserve will give Chris Taylor’s side three consecutive League wins at the beginning of the season, matching Peter Tsolakis’ achievement at the beginning of 2013 and matching South’s best start to a League season since 1985.
Standing in the way will be a Green Gully side that has only been defeated at home by South only once in 28 years. That defeat came in the opening round of the League season last season (Saturday 6 April 2013) when goals from Brad Norton, Marinos Gasparis and Renco Van Eeken gave the away side a professional 0-3 victory. Gully won the return fixture at Lakeside Stadium 1-3 on Sunday 7 July before the two sides met again in the Elimination Final at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday 29 September. Following a tense 90 minutes without a goal – including a penalty save by Kieran Gonzalez from Norton – the match was won thanks to a 91st minute strike by Tyson Holmes that sent South through to the Semi Finals.
South won its second National Premier League game in succession this season when it defeated Port Melbourne 2-3 at SS Anderson Reserve last Friday night. Substitute Leigh Minopoulos won the game with strikes in the 80th and 83rd minutes. Green Gully won its opening round match 4-0 against Werribee City at Green Gully Reserve on Sunday 16 March before losing 1-0 against ten-man Dandenong Thunder at George Andrews Reserve last Saturday 29 March.
It will be interesting to see if Taylor changes his side on the weekend and gives starts to Minopoulos, James Musa, Kobbie Boahene or Andrew Mullett, all who started on the bench against Port Melbourne. Players to watch out for from Green Gully include the usual suspects in Jason Hayne, Osagie Ederaro, Matthew Sanders and the Vargas brothers (Andy and Roddy), with those players having given outstanding service to Gully over many seasons. Player-coach Jeffrey Fleming has also given fantastic service to Gully over many years and will no doubt have his side ready to give South another difficult matchon Saturday.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 3PM at Green Gully Reserve, with the NPL 20s kicking off at 1PM.