By Lance Jenkinson
For the second home match in succession, the Melbourne Knights’ face another local derby. This time against Oceania champions South Melbourne.
The Knights are in hot form going into this week’s crucial match and are unbeaten in their last eight games, suddenly finding themselves only six points out of the top six, boosting Knights run to the playoffs even further is the inclusion of former English international Peter Beardsley.
Last Sunday Melbourne played last placed Sydney United and returned home with three valuable points, Michael Reda put the Knights a goal up in the 52nd minute when his shot deflected off a United defender ended up in the top right corner.
The Knights were left to play with ten men in the 61st minute when Rody Vargas was given a red card. Five minutes from time, Paul Urlovic headed in what was to be the sealer.
However, a minute later United gave the ‘Mighty Reds’ a mild heart attack when Nick Bosevski sent one into the back of Martin John’s net. It was all academic as the Knights left Sydney United Sports Centre with a hard earned victory.
South Melbourne have been very inconsistant since returning from the World Club Championships in Brazil last January. Before the season kicked off South Melbourne were all the rage to make it three National Soccer League titles in a row.
After last weekends 2-1 loss at home to Marconi, South were sitting in ninth position on the table and in great danger of not seing any playoff action at all. If South are to qualify for the playoffs, they will need win today and start to build momentum in the run towards the finals.
On the other hand the Knights must keep their juggernaut rolling on, as it has in the last eight matches. South Melbourne’s defence held some of the worlds best strikers at bay in Brazil and coach Ange Postecoglou will be hoping for more of the same today at Knights Stadium.
It’s not going to be easy holding down a player of the calibre of Beardsley, but Nick Orlic, Con Blatsis, Steve Iosifidis and Robert Liparoti are more than capable of holding any team scorless. Two hundred game player, ex-Knight Fausto Di Amicis, if he does recover from injury, is likely to replace one of the four in the second half.
Chris Jones will be given the goal keeper’s position. Steve Panopoulos, Richie Alagich, and David Clarkson are likely to control the midfield for the Lakesiders. South Melbourne have a very exciting bunch of forwards to choose from. Michael Curcija is currently leading the NSL scoring with 14 goals, he works very well with Vaughan Coveny and Paul Trimboli.
Then you can add super sub John Anastasiadis and you have a team that is very hard to beat on it’s day.
South Melbourne must keep a close eye on our own Paul Magdic and Mark Silic who have been in awesome form in recent weeks, but overall, the Knights as a whole have been superb and Vlado Vanis does not want it to stop here as they are peaking at the right time of the season.
This Sunday’s match is going to be exciting and should be played in front of a very vocal crowd. I believe the Knights can avenge their 3-0 Round six loss against South Melbourne and continue their push for a playoff spot.