Thursday, 10 October 2013

Preliminary Final Preview - Northcote City vs South Melbourne

Wouldn't it be nice if we could make the grand final? It won't be easy, of course. But in addition to the chance to win the whole damn thing, there's also the carrot of playing at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, which is a very lovely venue to watch a game from, and for crying out loud, isn't it about time South played a game there in front of everyone so we could all have a legitimate excuse of going to that venue?

Anyway, at best I can only pretend to know what I'm doing when I start waffling on with regards to tactics and such. As it is, the first two of our games against Northcote in 2013 have been made irrelevant by the fact that the South team that rocked up for those games no longer exists. So what can we take out of the most recent game, played just a few short weeks ago?

Well, that we can match them, and even dominate the fixture. That we'll have to be really careful with our offside trap. That we're going to have to lift our game somewhat, as the tight confines of Port Melbourne don't really suit us, though they may make it easier to defend our wings which have been a problem for a while now. The tighter confines will also hopefully mean that Bryan Bran doesn't get found out of position as much as he was last week. As terrific as he was with his intercepting play against the Knights, watching the various videos posted also showed that because he was prone to heading up field to make those interceptions, there was a lot of space behind him after the fact - meaning that it's not much good him doing all that work if we don't win the second ball as well, or turn it over straight away, before we can reset the defence.

I'm also not expecting Northcote to put in the kind of performance that they did against Bentleigh last week. Frankly, both teams were garbage, but we know that both are capable of much better performances. And as poor as their performance was, Northcote, perhaps uncharacteristically had more possession than their opponents - for the most part, they just couldn't make anything of it count. But both these teams will probably know each other inside out by now. If I had to pick a weakness for our opponents, my uneducated guess would be the defence. Get enough half decent balls into the six yard box, and they won't handle it too good.

As much we'd like to claim the underdog status, and the fact that we've come a long way in a very short space of time, there will be no moral victories after this game. Lose, and there'll be all the usual recriminations about what could have been done better etc, and the usual haha you lost jibes. That's to be expected. If we win, there'll be the mandatory Northcote were the real best team this season, South just bought their way to a grand final, yadayadayada. All of which should concern not one jot. Our job is to win for South's sake, and not worry about what the others may think of such a victory - and that includes the quite stupid discussions revolving around what we should do at the A-League after the VPL grand final if we make it.

Surely if we made it that far, after the game we'd be too busy commiserating a loss or celebrating a win? It just goes to show how small South has become in the view of some of our own fans, which is a pity. Time was we used to be the centre of the universe. While I can understand how and why people might react that way, it's all a bit sad. The situation was made funnier though, when someone explained that we'll all be kicked out of the game anyway before the Heart game starts.

Looking ahead with as little hubris as possible, there's also another issue. The boys from SMFC Radio claim that Bryan Bran, Tyson Holmes and Trent Rixon are all at risk of missing the grand final (should we make it that far) if any of those three players gets a yellow card against Northcote.

Reports suggest that the outer wing at Port Melbourne will be opened up, which is good news for everyone, except probably Clarendon Corner, who will probably do what they usually do anyway and pick the absolutely worst spot on the ground. Their call I guess, and weren't they meant to be dead anyway? One suggestion I will make is bring an umbrella, because if the weathermen and/or weatherwomen are right, then it could rain on Sunday, and there's very limited cover at Port Melbourne - and if it's windy, you probably don't want to be stuck behind the Plummer Street goals either, just in case a random branch falls off one of the trees and cracks your skull. Seen it happen there once.

For Those Planning On Driving To The Ground
At such a small ground, with what's expected to be a half decent crowd, parking will be a bit of hassle. In addition, due to the Melbourne Marathon, there will be several road closures, which may affect your journey. For more details, see this link.

Or, you know, you could catch the bus to the ground.

Something To Do With The NPL
It appears as if the clubs had a bit of a win in the courts on Monday, getting their case moved to the Supreme Court and also having their injunction against the FFV continuing the NPL upheld. I may or may not have something in this week's edition of Goal Weekly on the matter. Probably out of date already.

You Know It's Getting Serious...
... when even your students are asking about how your team is going.


  1. Thanks for the heads-up re Melb Marathon. I'm running in one of the events, and hadn't even considered the traffic implications for getting to Port afterwards.

  2. The key to beating Northcote on a small ground like Ports is too full press them all over the park. It's not a ground to let them come at u. The tightness of the width will allow this as Soolsma and whoever else is playing out wide will need to come in anyway. Strangle their midfield, and press their defenders. That is the key

    1. Good plan. The ball over the top is always going to come from Northcote, so this press will ensure any lob will be a panicked rush job and won't be of great quality.

  3. Speaking of Port Melbourne, you have to feel a bit sorry for them and the Knights. They were the two clubs that were handicapped by the Southern Stars debacle. Before the points deduction, Port could not be displaced from the Finals, and the Knights were a shot for the top spot. Now, they are both out!

    Savvas Tzionis

    1. The sad thing is everyone thinks its all business as usual
      eg canteen ratings, finals, this player, that player, game plan

      "Something to do with the NPL'!!

      it sounds like all this NPL fuss is some small distraction

      People do not realise that this could be the last time we play Northcote, or Knights, or Bentleigh or Gully, people do not realise that they want to push Sth and all these clubs into 'amateur' status and into zones

      Its like a comet hurtling down to earth and cause people can't see it,
      they go ahead with their lives, blissfully unaware and ignorant

      Wake up, get galvanised, get active

    2. In my case, not unaware or ignorant, but a bit weary of the whole thing, and just for the moment trying to put the focus back on to the players and our team, who've reached a stage of the season they've not done so for a very long time. When this season's over, I'm sure the NPL will dominate the off-season discussions like nothing else.


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