By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC hosts the Melbourne Knights in another crucial National Premier League derby on Sunday afternoon at Lakeside Stadium. For South, the derby presents an opportunity to at the very least maintain a six point advantage over Oakleigh at the top of the NPL ladder. For the Knights, the derby presents the opportunity to break into the top five on the NPL ladder and at the same time inflict another defeat on South in 2014.
Chris Taylor’s South side go into the match having won four League matches in a row, with the most recent being the professional 2-0 victory against Hume City at Lakeside Stadium last Sunday evening. After a slow first half, South put the foot down in the second half and won thanks to an own goal from Izzy Erdogan and a wonder goal by Nick Epifano to move to 46 points on the NPL ladder. The Knights head into the derby having won its last five matches across all competitions, with its most recent being the thrilling 3-2 win in extra time in their Dockerty Cup Semi Final against Bentleigh Greens on Tuesday night. The Knights have now moved well away from relegation danger and presently sit comfortably in mid-table.
The two sides have already met twice this year and on both occasions the away side won. On Sunday 27 April, Milos Lujic’s late goal won the derby for South 0-1 at Knights Stadium (League fixture). The Knights gained revenge at Lakeside Stadium when they defeated South 0-2 in their Dockerty Cup Quarter Final meeting on Wednesday 25 June thanks to goals from Tomi Uskok (42’) and Shayan Alinejad (58’). Those two players, along with goalkeeper Chris May and transfer window signing Stipo Andrijasevic, are the players that punished South in the Cup tie and are the danger players for Andrew Marth’s team. South Melbourne has not defeated the Melbourne Knights since returning to Lakeside Stadium in 2012 and the Knights have been the only team to hold South goalless at Lakeside Stadium in 2014.
Sunday’s derby kicks off at 5PM at Lakeside Stadium. 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 #SMvMK.