By John Kyrou (Photo by Cindy Nitsos)
South Melbourne FC travels to Kingston Heath Soccer Complex tonight to face the Bentleigh Greens in another huge National Premier League Victoria match. With six rounds remaining in the season, South currently leads the Oakleigh Cannons by seven points on the NPL ladder. Assuming that the Cannons win all of their remaining six matches, South needs twelve more points to secure the League Championship and can get six of them this week with a win against the Greens tonight and then against Werribee City on Sunday.
Chris Taylor’s South side goes into tonight’s match having enjoyed a 0-3 victory against Pascoe Vale at Hosken Reserve last Friday night. Leigh Minopoulos returned to the starting eleven and scored a goal in each half, whilst centre-forward Milos Lujic scored South’s other goal from the penalty spot to take his personal tally to 16 League goals for the season. Bentleigh head into tonight’s match having not won in two matches, losing 2-1 against Oakleigh at Jack Edwards Reserve on Sunday 27 July before drawing 2-2 with bottom side Goulburn Valley Suns at Kingston Heath last Saturday 2 August.
Iqi Jawadi will miss his first game of the season tonight when he serves an automatic one match ban for his red card against Pascoe Vale (following two yellow cards during the match). There is still doubt on whether Jamie Reed will feature tonight, as the forward did not play against Pascoe Vale following an injury sustained against Northcote on Saturday 26 July. Nick Epifano sat on the substitutes’ bench for the entire Pascoe Vale match but should slot back into the midfield tonight in place of the suspended Jawadi, whilst the front two of Lujic and Minopoulos should remain unchanged from last Friday.
The two sides met earlier this season at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday 11 May and on that occasion South Melbourne triumphed with a 2-1 win over the Greens thanks to second half goals from Lujic and substitute Minopoulos. In the corresponding match between the two sides at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Friday 19 April 2013, South Melbourne defeated Bentleigh 1-2 thanks to a first half headed goal from Brad Norton and a late second half header from Renco Van Eeken.
Tonight’s game kicks off at 8:30PM at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex. 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 #BGvSM.