South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

Match Preview – South Melbourne FC vs Oakleigh Cannons

Match Preview – South Melbourne FC vs Oakleigh Cannons

By John Kyrou

The top two sides in the National Premier League Victoria competition meet on Friday night when the Oakleigh Cannons host South Melbourne FC at Jack Edwards Reserve. With South currently leading the Cannons by nine points on the League ladder, victory for the Cannons will reduce that lead to six points whilst another win for Chris Taylor’s side will see them extend their lead at the top to at least 11 points (assuming that Heidelberg defeats Werribee City on Sunday). With the season approaching the halfway mark, such a massive lead at the top of the ladder will allow South Melbourne to be well placed for the challenges that lie ahead for the second half of the season.

Oakleigh got back into winning form against Werribee City with a 2-0 victory at Jack Edwards Reserve last Saturday night. The three points were vital as Miron Bleiberg’s side had dropped crucial points in their previous few League matches against Northcote City (1-1 home draw on 18 May) and Pascoe Vale (2-0 away loss on 23 May). Friday night’s match is of huge importance to the home side as it cannot afford to slip 12 points behind South on the NPL Victoria ladder, and will no doubt be going for the three points it needs to stay in touch with the League leaders. With players such as Dean Piemonte, Andreas Govas, Nate Foster and former South men Goran Zoric and Dusan Bosnjak at his disposal, Bleiberg will be confident his side can be the first ones to take points off South this season.

Chris Taylor’s men head into Friday’s match confident and knowing that even a draw at Jack Edwards Reserve will be no disaster as it will still maintain at least a nine point lead at the top of the ladder (assuming Heidelberg win). Nevertheless, it is expected that South will go for the three points to try and extend its winning run to 12/12 in the League and 15/15 across all competitions. All of Taylor’s players will want to perform well in the Oakleigh match to stake their claim for selection in the big Dockerty Cup Quarter Final match against the Melbourne Knights. The biggest selection headache for Taylor will be which two of three players he selects to play at centre-half. Andrew Mullett stepped in to replace injured Captain Michael Eagar (against Pascoe Vale and Werribee City) and then replaced New Zealand international James Musa (against Dandenong in both Cup and League matches) and was one of the reasons why South kept clean sheets in all of those games. As Club Captain, Eagar would be expected to play in every match barring injury or suspension so the other spot at centre-half appears to be a choice between Mullett and Musa. The Kiwi international did himself no harm for selection when he played well for New Zealand against South Africa last Friday night before coming off the bench to score for South against Dandenong two days later.

Friday night’s match against Oakleigh Cannons kicks off at 8:30PM at Jack Edwards Reserve. Those unable to make the game can follow it with live updates on the South Melbourne FC Facebook page and on the Club’s official Twitter @smfc with the hashtags #NPLVIC and #OCvSM.

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