Friday, 7 March 2008

South travels to Jack's Place looking for more points - Round 4, Oakleigh vs South Melbourne

No more final predictions, as basically no one holds me accountable and soccer-tips are not my specialty anyway.

Last time they met:

Round 20, 2007 at Lakeside Stadium

South Melbourne 5 Oakleigh Cannons 2

The 2nd half will live long in the memory of all who saw it, with South ridding themselves of their Oakleigh curse. A high quality match in which Hellas outlasted the visitors, the latter equalising twice before eventually being overrun in what was South's best football of the season. Diaco's top corner freekick to make it five was one of the goals of the season.

Oakleigh come into this game undefeated, and having just handed Coburg their first taste of VPL defeat, should be quite confident of being able to take all three points at home. The make up of the team that has excelled in recent home and away seasons but failed at in the finals has changed significantly however. Where the big names at big prices ruled the roost in three post-NSL seasons, there has been a high amount of player movement in the off-season for the Cannons. Masi is gone up front, Boutsianis is finally gone, Turnbull is gone in goals, Poutakidis of course joined South, and many have felt that their replacements are not up to the calibre of those departures. Nevertheless, Cagalj is a good pick up in goal, Apostolikas had a good year at Whittlesea, and they have an assortment of players who played finals football at other clubs last year, not forgetting the evergreen Damianos in central midfield. The most notable recruitment as far as this game goes, will surely be Trent Waterson; he who had several good games for South last season, prone to go missing in others, and who became the second successive midfielder poached by the Cannons from South in as many years.

South have some actual momentum to take into this game, having finally picked up their first points of the season in emphatic style in the previous round. This game should provide a sterner test however, against an opponent who is a genuine finals candidate as opposed to a relegation favourite. Will Johnny A' stick with his pairing of De Nittis and Armenian up front? Or will he revert to the previous dysfunctional set-up? Will Fernando get as much room as he did against Western Suburbs? How will the defense cope with a much a bigger workload after rarely being troubled last week? Will La Verde be able to step up another level in only his second senior game? South have a big five weeks ahead of them with games against Preston and the Knights away, and the as yet unbeaten AIS and always difficult Green Gully at home, so a win here, or at least a credible draw, will give confidence to the side that they can match it with the better teams and not just against the stragglers. But with Oakleigh at home, undefeated, and with South only having beaten Western Suburbs, the former should still be favourite, and would be disappointed to lose this one.

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