South Melbourne FC hosts the North Sunshine Eagles in their Westfield FFA Cup Fifth Round meeting at Lakeside Stadium this Wednesday night.
In the Fourth Round, South travelled to Whittlesea United on Saturday 14 March and triumphed 0-5. On the same afternoon, North Sunshine booked its passage into the next round – and set up a date with the NPL Victoria Champions – following an astonishing 6-6 (4-2 on penalties) victory against NPL 1 side Sunshine George Cross.
As this Cup fixture is sandwiched between tough League matches against the Melbourne Knights (last Saturday) and Hume City (this upcoming Saturday), Head Coach Chris Taylor is likely to shuffle his South Melbourne side for the match against North Sunshine, who are currently on top of the State League 1 North-West division.
Full-back Tim Mala, who received a red card in the League match against Green Gully on Saturday 4 April, will serve the second of his two match suspension against North Sunshine on Wednesday night and will be available for the Hume City match this upcoming Saturday evening.
It will be interesting to see what attacking line-up Taylor decides to play on Wednesday night. Centre-forward Milos Lujic has started every game in 2015 and has scored seven goals across all competitions this season, with the latest being from the penalty spot against the Melbourne Knights last Saturday.
South Hobart signing Andy Brennan was tremendous in the derby victory, displaying scintillating pace, power and skill in a performance that was capped off with him scoring the match-winning goal just after half-time.
Wednesday night’s meeting with North Sunshine may be an opportunity for Jake Barker-Daish to make his first start for the Club. The former Adelaide United midfielder made his first appearance for South when he came off the bench against the Knights last weekend, following a knee injury that had kept him out of action in the early stages of 2015.
Taylor and his charges must be wary of the threat posed by North Sunshine, given the Eagles’ form in recent times. They were promoted to State League 1 on the back of a Championship winning season in 2014 in which they lost only three matches. North Sunshine has continued their good form by starting 2015 with two wins from their first three League fixtures, with Raul Isac netting four times thus far.
The incredible match with Sunshine George Cross in the previous Cup round saw the Eagles initially take a 4-1 lead, before the Georgies fought back to level the scores at 4-4 to take the match into extra time. Paul Connelly’s men looked certain to be knocked out when they conceded two more goals, whilst two red cards left them with nine men and trailing 4-6. Amazingly, they scored twice with two late goals to level the match before eventually winning an epic clash on penalties.
Each club that has made it to this current phase of the Westfield FFA Cup requires three more wins to progress to the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32. Whilst South would appear strong favourites for this fixture, the magic of Cup competitions means that the result is never certain until the final whistle.
The match against the North Sunshine Eagles kicks off at 7:30pm at Lakeside Stadium on Wednesday night. All South Melbourne members (except online members) have free entry into the ground provided that they show their membership at the gate. Those who are unable to make the match can follow proceedings on the Club’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, using the handles #SMFC and #FFACUP.