South Melbourne FC finally returns to Lakeside Stadium on Sunday as Chris Taylor’s side host John Anastasiadis’ Bentleigh Greens in the 2015 PS4 NPL Victoria Grand Final rematch.
South returned to winning ways last Saturday with a hard-fought but professional 2-1 victory at Hume City. Matthew Millar scored both of South’s goals and the result kept South on top of the NPL Victoria ladder ahead of this weekend’s round of matches.
Captain Michael Eagar and Iqi Jawadi both missed the Hume match, with Jawadi having not played since being substituted in the first half of the Port Melbourne game in early March. Both will be pushing for inclusion for Sunday’s game and it will be interesting to see who Taylor leaves out should he bring those two players into the side.
The Bentleigh Greens have started their 2016 campaign solidly, with four wins, a draw and a defeat from their opening six league matches. Their most recent result was a comfortable 3-0 victory against Melbourne Victory last Friday night. Their captain Wayne Wallace, Chris Lucas, Tyson Holmes, Troy Ruthven and Matt Thurtell are all key players for the Greens and their influence will need to be stifled if South wants a result on Sunday.
South and Bentleigh are very hard to separate in terms of the league standings in 2016 and historical head-to-head league meetings (see below table) between the two clubs. Both are at the top of the NPL Victoria table with the exact same points and goal difference, with South just ahead only on goals scored (19 to Bentleigh’s 15). Both teams finished level on points at the top of the table in 2015 – with South winning the Premiership on goal difference – before Bentleigh won the Grand Final meeting a few weeks later.
Although the two sides have been neck-and-neck in recent times, South has not beaten the Greens in five attempts (including this season’s FFV Community Shield). South’s last win against Bentleigh was on 11 May 2014 with a 2-1 win at Lakeside Stadium. The home fans will certainly accept an identical result to that this Sunday evening.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 4pm at Lakeside Stadium. 2016 SMFC memberships will be available for purchase and pickup outside the main entrance.
SMFC v Bentleigh Greens – Head to Head (League & Finals)
Matches Played: 15
Wins (SMFC): 6
Wins (BGFC): 6
First match: Bentleigh Greens 0-1 SMFC (15 May 2005, Kingston Heath)
Last match: SMFC 1-3 Bentleigh Greens (13 September 2015, Lakeside Stadium)
Biggest Winning Margin (SMFC): 2 goals (3-1 win, 21 August 2005, Lakeside Stadium)
Biggest Winning Margin (BGFC): 3 goals (4-1 win, 21 July 2013, Lakeside Stadium)
Most Goals in a Match (SMFC): 3 (21 August 2005, Lakeside Stadium)
Most Goals in a Match (BGFC): 4 (21 July 2013, Lakeside Stadium)
Biggest Finals Win (SMFC): None
Biggest Finals Win (BGFC): 3-1 (13 September 2015, Lakeside Stadium)