By John Kyrou
The Ballarat Red Devils host NPL football at its new multi-million dollar facility at Morshead Park for the first time when it welcomes South Melbourne FC to town on Saturday afternoon. The home side will want to impress in front of the local support whilst South will be aiming to set a new Club record of seven straight wins achieved at the beginning of a League season.
Ballarat head into Saturday’s match having fought out a 2-2 draw against Pascoe Vale at Hosken Reserve last Saturday evening. The result would have been hard to take for James Robinson’s side considering they were 0-2 ahead before conceding two goals in the last fifteen minutes as the match finished all square. In further bad news, Liam Harding was sent off in the 78th minute and will therefore miss Saturday’s match against South. Ballarat have lost three League matches in a row and will be desperate to change things around on Saturday afternoon.
In contrast, South goes into the game with a perfect 100% winning record across all competitions in 2014. Milos Lujic’s 85th minute goal against the Melbourne Knights was the difference in the derby at Somers Street last Sunday as Chris Taylor’s side travel to Ballarat on Saturday full of confidence. Several players had excellent matches against the Knights, including Jamie Reed, James Musa, Michael Eagar and Iqi Jawadi. Substitute Leigh Minopoulos again excelled coming off the bench by playing a key role in setting up Lujic for the winning goal and now surely gives Taylor a major dilemma in deciding whether to put him in the starting eleven this Saturday.
Ballarat and South have already met in the League this season, with a goal in each half by Jamie Reed being enough for South to win comfortably 2-0 at Lakeside Stadium on Thursday 17 April. On that night, Dane Milovanovic came off the bench and nearly scored a wonderful consolation goal for the Red Devils and will be a player that South need to watch out for on Saturday. Ballarat withstood an onslaught from South in the opening 20 minutes of the match at Lakeside Stadium whilst looking to punish South with quick counter-attacking play and again this is something that Taylor’s men need to watch out for this Saturday.
Should South Melbourne defeat Ballarat, it will break the Club record set in South’s first ever season of competition (1960) for most consecutive wins at the beginning of a League season (seven wins). In 1960, South Melbourne Hellas was in Metropolitan League 1 North (the division below the old Victorian State League/Victorian Premier League) and won promotion by winning seventeen of the 18 League matches and drawing once. That draw was in Round 7 when Chris Georgousis’ men could only manage a 3-3 draw with Corio on Saturday 7 May 1960. The 2014 South Melbourne FC side will hopefully go one better with a win on Saturday.
For those unable to make the trip, there will be live updates on South Melbourne FC’s Facebook page as well as on the Twitter feed @smfc (#NPLVIC #BRDvSM)
|1960 Results||2014 Results|
|Round 1||02 April: 2-1 v Croatia (A)||13 March: 3-0 v Heidelberg (A)|
|Round 2||09 April: 9-1 v Melbourne University (H)||28 March: 3-2 v Port Melbourne (A)|
|Round 3||16 April: West Melbourne Sicilia forfeit||05 April: 5-3 v Green Gully (A)|
|Round 4||18 April: 5-0 v Maccabi (H)||13 April: 3-0 v Hume City (A)|
|Round 5||23 April: 4-2 v Sunshine City (A)||17 April: 2-0 v Ballarat RD (H)|
|Round 6||30 April: 10-1 v Moonee Ponds (H)||27 April: 1-0 v Melbourne Knights (A)|
|Round 7||07 May: 3-3 v Corio (A)||03 May: Ballarat RD v SMFC|