By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC plays its final match of the 2014 National Premier League Victoria season against the Goulburn Valley Suns at McEwen Reserve in Shepparton on Sunday afternoon. With South already declared NPLV Champions and the Suns already relegated to NPL 1 in 2015, Sunday’smatch could be seen as a dead-rubber match, however Chris Taylor’s side will use the match as good preparation for the upcoming NPL Australia play-off match against South Hobart in Hobart next Saturday 20 September.
South go into Sunday’s meeting with the Suns unbeaten in four League matches, with its most recent result being the 2-2 draw against the Oakleigh Cannons at Lakeside Stadium last Sunday evening. Milos Lujic made that evening one to remember with a headed goal to level the scores in the 91st minute of play, bringing his personal tally to 21 League goals in 2014. This incredible return of goals elevates the centre-forward to equal second place with South Melbourne Hellas greats Con Nestorides (1966) and Charlie Egan (1985) for the most amount of individual goals scored in a League season at the Club. A goal on Sunday will see Lujic join Jimmy Armstrong (1974) and Doug Brown (1984) in equal first place with 22 League goals; two or more goals will see him break the record and leave his mark in South Melbourne history. However it remains to be seen if Lujic even plays, with Taylor maybe inclined to use Sunday’s match to play the fringe players in the squad to give them more game time. This could see the likes of Dion Kirk, Kobbie Boahene or Andy Kecojevic representing the senior side on Sunday afternoon.
In South’s way on Sunday is a Goulburn Valley Suns side that have been mathematically relegated for several weeks but are one of only two sides (Oakleigh being the other) to have taken anything from South at Lakeside Stadium this season. In the meeting between the two sides earlier this year on Sunday 15 June, Tyson Holmes hit a wonder strike to put South 1-0 ahead on ten minutes but Benjamin Clarke hit back five minutes later after tucking away Craig Carley’s through-ball. Jamie Reed had his penalty kick saved by Phillip Petrovski early in the second half as the Suns earned an unlikely point against a frustrated South Melbourne side. The Suns have lost their last five straight League matches and have not won at McEwan Reserve since their 3-2 win against Green Gully onSaturday 19 July, however they will be keen on giving a good account of themselves and finishing their season in style with a win against the Champions on Sunday. Carley has been the Suns’ most dangerous player, scoring exactly half of Goulburn Valley’s total goals this season (thirteen of their 26 goals) and he will be one for the South defence to watch out for.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 3PM at McEwan Reserve in Shepparton. 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 #GVSvSM