South Melbourne FC returns home this Saturday afternoon when they take on old foes the Melbourne Knights in a huge derby clash at Lakeside Stadium.
The match is a top of the table affair, with the Knights currently occupying second position on the PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria ladder behind Heidelberg United on goal difference. South enter this weekend two points off the pace in fourth, albeit with a game in hand over the rest of the competition. A victory on Saturday will see the defending Champions leapfrog the Knights on the table and possibly even end the round on top of the ladder.
Green Gully was the scene of South’s 2-0 victory last weekend, an explosive match that saw Tim Mala sent off following an incident in the dying minutes. Mala will miss this week’s clash with suspension, with Bonel Obradovic his most likely replacement at the right side of defence.
The loss of Mala is somewhat compensated by the return to fitness of star signing Jake Barker-Daish, who has been kept out of action in the first part of the season with a persistent knee injury. The former Adelaide United midfielder, who signed for the Club with much fanfare in February, has been in full training for some weeks and looks certain to play some part in Saturday’s match.
Dane Milovanovic, Andy Brennan and Milos Lujic were the stars of last weekend’s win, with Lujic scoring a late brace to take his season’s tally to six goals in all competitions in 2015. Milovanovic took full advantage of his promotion to the starting line-up with a commanding display in midfield, while Brennan was also impressive after coming on as a substitute.
The Melbourne Knights were the form team in the first few months of the NPL Victoria season, with five wins from their first five games leading some to label them as title contenders. Last weekend, Andrew Marth’s men dropped their first points in a 3-0 home loss against the Bentleigh Greens and then gave up a two goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to the struggling Oakleigh Cannons on Tuesday night.
In the inaugural FFV Community Shield in early February at Knights Stadium, South came from a goal down to defeat the Knights 2-1 thanks to late goals from Brennan and Leigh Minopoulos. South fans will be hoping for more heroics from their men, in a match that was once considered the biggest game in Australian football.
A large crowd is expected for the match, which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday afternoon 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 #PS4NPL and #SMFC.