Wednesday evening saw a squad of 22 players stride on to the pitch at Lakeside for the first pre-season friendly against Box Hill United. It was an opportunity for the players to stretch their legs under match conditions and for the coaching team to further evaluate those trialing to make the final squad.
The friendly comprises three 30 minute sessions enabling Chris Taylor to consistently rotate the squad and test various structures to see how players reacted in the different formations. It was the same for Box Hill United coach Greg Kassidas who also made use of a multitude of players off the bench are they prepare for their 2016 NPL2 campaign.
The result was a 2-2 draw with South Melbourne’s first goal scored by trialist Atilla Ofli before he backed it up again with an assist providing Leigh Minopoulos the opportunity to chip the rushing keeper to level the scores. Another highlight of the session was a classy penalty save by new goal keeper Zaim Zanelli.
Talking to smfc.com.au after the match, coach Chris Taylor was asked about the purpose of the friendly so early in the pre-season. “It was about getting some miles in the legs and get a little bit of the rustiness out of the system. There is nothing specific to work on out there other than getting people into shape. Some players had 20 minutes whilst others had longer” he said.
Taylor was also observant of some of the trialists saying “it puts them under a little bit of pressure and lets them express themselves so it helps us see where their strengths and weaknesses are. We use them to keep our players in shape as well”.
The team will travel to the Veneto Club on Monday 21st December to take on FC Bulleen Lions who are preparing for 2016 having been promoted from the NPL this year. Kick-off is at 7:30pm.