Derby Preview – SMFC vs Heidelberg

It will be yet another huge clash away from home when South Melbourne FC takes on old rivals Heidelberg United at the Olympic Village on Sunday afternoon.

Last week, South fought back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to register a draw away at the Bentleigh Greens. Milos Lujic and Nick Epifano were the players that got on the scoresheet for South in the second half, with the team finishing the match strongly following what could be described as a very underwhelming first half.

South is yet to taste defeat in 2015 across all competitions and will be desperate to maintain that record against old foes Heidelberg United. The historic Heidelberg-South Melbourne derby is one that goes all the way back into the 1960s, with the teams first meeting each other on Monday 30 March 1964. South Melbourne Hellas beat Alexander 2-1 on that day thanks to two goals from George Papadopoulos.

It remains to be seen what starting eleven Head Coach Chris Taylor will take into the derby this Sunday. David Stirton has started every League match this season, although the recruit is facing stiff competition for the right sided spot in attack from Tasmanian Andy Brennan. Mathew Theodore played an impressive 90 minutes against Bentleigh, with most only expecting an hour’s work from the man returning from hip surgery. The diminutive midfielder is likely to start the derby, providing that his body has had enough time to recover. The tenacious Cody Martindale was another who impressed at Kingston Heath, coming on at half-time and helping South wrestle control of the midfield battle.

South was far too strong in both encounters against Heidelberg last season, with two 3-0 victories underlying their superiority. Having said that, Heidelberg were very impressive in their return to Victoria’s top flight in 2014, winning twelve games en route to finishing third in the League standings. The Bergers have started strongly again this season, winning three out of their first four games to sit in sixth position.

One thing that Taylor and his coaching staff won’t have to worry about is containing star Heidelberg marksman Dan Heffernan, who is expected to miss the game through injury. The striker netted 18 times last season and finished second behind South’s Milos Lujic in the Golden Boot award. Despite this setback for the Bergers, the home side still have a number of players who can find the back of the net, with Kaine Sheppard likely to be the man that the South defence must be most wary of.

Sunday’s clash marks the 78th time that the two sides have faced off against each other in League competition (both at State League and National League level). South has won 40 times, Heidelberg has won 20 times and there have been 18 draws. South’s best win against the Bergers was 5-0 at Middle Park on 17 November 1991, with Heidelberg’s best win against South being 5-2 at Middle Park on 4 July 1977.

Heidelberg have not beaten South since triumphing 2-0 at the Olympic Village on 11 July 2010. Whilst form and recent history means nothing when these sides face off, South will be hoping they can once again rise to the challenge in a big game as they have done so often in recent times.

Sunday’s derby match kicks off at 4pm at the Olympic Village.