By John Kyrou
South Melbourne FC hosts the North Eastern MetroStars Soccer Club in one of the 2014 PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Semi Finals at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday afternoon. At stake for the winning club is a spot in the Grand Final against either Bonnyrigg White Eagles (of Football NSW) or Palm Beach Sharks (of Football Queensland) on the weekend of 4 and 5 October.
North Eastern MetroStars (commonly known as MetroStars) qualified for the PS4 NPL Finals Series as Football Federation South Australia Minor Premiers. They won nineteen of their 26 League matches to finish eight points ahead of West Adelaide Hellas on top of the NPL South Australia ladder. Unlike in Victoria, South Australia’s NPL had a finals series after their regular season and unfortunately for the MetroStars they fell just short of being crowned overall Champions after losing the Grand Final 1-2 against the Croydon Kings at Hindmarsh Stadium on Saturday 13 September. They made amends last Saturday 20 September when they travelled to Perth and defeated Football West’s Bayswater City FC 3-4 on penalties (following a 0-0 draw in regular and extra time) to qualify for the NPL Semi Finals.
South Melbourne fans will be familiar with a couple of the MetroStars players, with forward Scott Tunbridge (2003-2004) and left back Adam Van Dommele (2007-2008) having played for the Victorians previously. The danger man to watch out for on Sunday is Tunbridge’s partner up front and MetroStars vice-captain Perry Mitris, who scored 24 goals from 29 League matches (including the finals series) in 2014. He scored 22 goals from 26 regular home & away matches, equalling what South’s centre-forward Milos Lujic achieved during South’s 26 League matches in the NPL Victoria this season.
South Melbourne FC qualified for the Semi Finals after travelling to Hobart and defeating Tasmanian Champions South Hobart FC 0-1 thanks to Jamie Reed’s overhead kick on six minutes. Unfortunately, Chris Taylor’s side were dealt a nasty blow when key midfielder Stephen Hatzikostas landed awkwardly on his right knee to sustain a season-ending injury. He will most likely be replaced in the starting eleven by Tyson Holmes for Sunday’s match. Other than Hatzikostas, Taylor has a full squad to choose from and will be expecting an excellent performance from his side at Lakeside Stadium.
Sunday’s PlayStation4 NPL Semi Final kicks off at 3:00PM at Lakeside Stadium. Those unable to make it can follow the game via live updates on the South Melbourne FC Facebook page and on the Club’s official Twitter @smfc with the hashtags #NPLFinals and #SMvMS.