South Melbourne FC heads into tonight’s Westfield FFA Cup Round 7 clash against the Frankston Pines at Lakeside Stadium knowing that they are just one win away from once again gracing the national stage.
Victory against the Pines, who compete in State League 1, will guarantee South Melbourne a passage into the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 proper, joining the ten A-League teams and various state league clubs from around the country. Winning tonight will also see South qualify for the Dockerty Cup semi finals, making this clash all the more vital.
SMFC’s 2015 Westfield FFA Cup Qualifying Campaign so far:
Round 4: 5-0 v Whittlesea United (Saturday 14 March) at Thomas Street Reserve.
Round 5: 8-0 v North Sunshine (Wednesday 15 April) at Lakeside Stadium.
Round 6: 3-1 v Melbourne Knights (Friday 5 June) at Lakeside Stadium.
Iqi Jawadi’s stunning long-range effort gave South a precious 0-1 win against the Dandenong Thunder last Saturday night and continued South’s run of three consecutive wins across all competitions. Goalkeeper Fraser MacLaren produced a man-of-the-match display in his first full debut for the club, pulling off a string of fine saves to ensure the three points. With first-choice goalkeeper Nikola Roganovic available after serving his mandatory one-week suspension following his sending off against the Melbourne Knights on 5 June, it remains to be seen who will start in between the sticks tonight.
Another man who could feature heavily in tonight’s game is recent signing Andy Bevin, who arrived at Lakeside Stadium from MLS side Seattle Sounders last week and made his debut against Dandenong. With Frankston likely to take a defensive mindset into the game, Coach Chris Taylor will be hoping that Bevin and fellow attackers Milos Lujic and Nick Epifano are able to create early goal scoring opportunities.
Frankston Pines have been impressive in reaching this stage of the FFA Cup, with the State League 1 South-West club one of the remaining lower division clubs still alive in the competition. They earnt the right to play against South Melbourne by beating NPL Victoria side Avondale FC 1-0 in a major FFA Cup qualifying upset. Frankston currently sits in seventh position in their League and heads into tonight’s clash having lost 2-1 against Noble Park at the weekend.
Frankston Pines’ 2015 Westfield FFA Cup Qualifying Campaign so far:
Round 3: 4-2 v Moreland United (Saturday 7 March) at C B Smith Reserve.
Round 4: 5-1 v Kings Domain (Saturday 14 March) at Monterey Reserve.
Round 5: 3-1 (AET) v Morwell Pegasus (Wednesday 15 April) at Monterey Reserve.
Round 6: 1-0 v Avondale FC (Sunday 7 June) at Monterey Reserve.
South Melbourne and Frankston Pines have previously played each other six times in the old Victorian Premier League, with South winning five of those games and the other game ending in a 1-1 draw. The last match played between the two sides saw South defeat Frankston 1-3 at Monterey Reserve on Sunday 24 August 2008 thanks to goals from Fernando De Moraes (69′, 81′) and Gianni De Nittis (89′). South has won all three of their home matches against Frankston.
Tonight’s match shapes as one of the defining games of the season for South Melbourne, with the chance to again compete for national glory on the line for Australia’s most successful football club. The match kicks off at 7:30pm at Lakeside Stadium. All 2015 South Melbourne members have free entry.