South Melbourne FC will be hoping to make it five straight wins across all competitions when it hosts Melbourne Victory’s NPL team at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday evening.
Chris Taylor’s side has won four tough matches in succession since losing to Richmond in late March and has managed to score in every league and cup match so far in 2016. South overcame a sluggish first-half performance at Paisley Park on Wednesday night to eventually defeat Altona Magic 3-0 and progress through to the Sixth Round of Westfield FFA Cup qualifying.
Taylor himself will be back in the dugout on Sunday, having served a one-match suspension following his dismissal against Oakleigh in last Sunday’s win. Under 20s coach Brian MacNicol took temporary charge of the team on Wednesday night and left several regular starting players on the bench or completely rested in order to be ready for Sunday’s match.
Brad Norton, Kristian Konstantinidis, Nick Epifano, Mathew Theodore, Brad Norton and Leigh Minopoulos did not feature at all in midweek, whilst Matthew Foschini and Iqi Jawadi – finally back after injury – only featured late in the match off the bench. Most of these players are expected to be back in the squad for the Victory match although some of their fellow teammates – Amadu Koroma in particular – played very well against Altona and may remain in the team on Sunday.
Melbourne Victory’s NPL team finished third in NPL 1 last season but won promotion after defeating North Geelong 2-0 in the Promotion Playoff in September 2015. Victory are currently in eleventh place on the ladder with seven points from their first eight matches and with four straight losses. They have struggled to score goals lately due to the absence of captain Joey Katebian and George Howard from the team (injury and first team duties respectively) but will note that South only got one point in meetings against Bulleen Lions and Richmond – the other two 2015 promoted teams – earlier in the season.
Sunday’s main match kicks off at 5pm, with the Under 20s match commencing at 2.30pm. SMFC will also be honouring the memory of the ANZACs in a short ceremony prior to the main game commencing.