By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC gets its 2014 PS4 National Premier League Finals Series underway against South Hobart FC in an Elimination Final at the South Hobart Ground on Saturday afternoon. At stake for the winning club is a place in the Semi Finals against the winner of Bayswater City (Football West) and MetroStars SC (Football Federation South Australia) on the weekend of 27 and 28 September.
South Hobart FC qualified for the PS4 NPL Finals Series as Football Federation Tasmania Champions, following another dominant season in the top division of Tasmanian football. They won eighteen of their 21 League matches and won the League by finishing eight points ahead of the second-placed Tilford Zebras. South Hobart scored an astonishing 89 goals during their 21 game season, with strikers Brayden Mann (31 goals) and Andy Brennan (25 goals) contributing a remarkable 63% of their side’s total goals scored throughout the season. Ken Morton’s side then went on to win the Cup by defeating Northern Rangers 3-1 last Saturday 13 September to complete a clean sweep in Tasmania.
South Hobart FC also qualified for the inaugural FFA Cup Round of 32 this year, however they lost 4-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw during normal and extra time against Tuggeranong United on Tuesday 5 August at KGV Park in Hobart. They have been Tasmanian Champions a record eighteen times as well as winning numerous other competitions and are without doubt the best side in Tasmania. Most worryingly for South Melbourne FC and Coach Chris Taylor is the fact that South Hobart won through to the inaugural NPL Grand Final last year before losing 0-2 against Sydney United at KGV Park.
South Melbourne FC qualified for the PS4 NPL Finals Series as Football Federation Victoria Champions, finishing seven points ahead of the Oakleigh Cannons at the top of the NPL Victoria ladder with 66 points from their 26 League matches. Strikers Milos Lujic and Jamie Reed had excellent seasons, scoring 22 and 12 goals respectively in the League as South wrapped up the League Championship with two matches to spare. In their last match of the NPLV season against the Goulburn Valley Suns last Sunday 14 September, Taylor rested regular starters Tyson Holmes, James Musa and Stephen Hatzikostas and gave game time to youngsters Dion Kirk and Andy Kecojevic as South comfortably won the match 1-4.
With a full strength squad to choose from ahead of the weekend’s trip to Hobart and with many supporters flying across the Bass Strait to support the side, South will be very keen on overcoming South Hobart and progressing to the Semi Finals. The two sides have met previously, albeit in a pre-season friendly match for the Hill Street/Thrifty Cup on Sunday 16 January 2011 that South Melbourne FC won 5-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Kyle Joryeff (8’, 48’, 69’ p) and further goals from Marinos Gasparis (25’) and Fernando De Moraes (61’).
Saturday’s PS4 NPL Elimination Final kicks off at 1:30PM at the South Hobart Ground in Darcy Street, Hobart. Those unable to make the trip over to Hobart can follow the game with live updates on the South Melbourne FC Facebook page and on the Club’s official Twitter @smfc with the hashtags #NPLFinals and #SHvSM