The stage is set for a long-awaited and fitting finale to the NPL finals series. The showdown between Bentleigh Greens and South Melbourne, the two dominant teams of the season, at Lakeside on Sunday afternoon looks set to answer a number of questions.

Can South fulfil its naked ambition of winning all the silverware at state level, and make it back-to-back titles for Chris Taylor’s team? Or will the Greens bury the ghost of its 2013 VPL Grandfinal loss to Northcote City, and carry home the Premier League trophy for the first time to Kingston Heath.

One name the Green team hopes won’t come back to haunt them will be South’s Golden Boot winner Milos Lujic, who’ll be out to break Bentleigh hearts again, as he did in extra time two years ago when his two goals won the title for Northcote. The Greens defence will be out to keep him scoreless as Pascoe Vale did last week.

Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s grand final, South Melbourne skipper Michael Eager has little doubt that his team faces a very tough game on Sunday.

“Probably our biggest challenge all season I’d say. We’ve certainly put in some hard yards during the week and we’ve prepared quite a lot because we’re going to have to be prepared on Sunday for what will be a very difficult game.”

“It’s not usually the case of who’s playing the prettiest football on the day,” Eager says of grand finals.

“It’s who’s prepared to knuckle down and do the bit that sometimes people aren’t comfortable with … I think for me it won’t be a high scoring game won by two or three. It’ll be one goal separating it.”

Recent head to head meetings suggest the Greens have the edge but Bentleigh coach John Anastasiadis says “past results don’t really matter. In a final both teams have to be at their best. Whoever is not will lose the game”.

Speaking on Bentleigh Greens TV, the coach says: “South Melbourne is the biggest club outside the A- League. We’re not going to hide from that but at the end of the day they’re still an NPL club, the same as us. So we’re still in the same boat. We’ll be fighting each other trying to stay alive on Sunday. Whoever remains in the boat and doesn’t sink be the winner.

“At the end of the day, it would be the first trophy that Bentleigh win (at this level), so it would be a very special day for the club if that happens.”

Kick-off is at 3.00 pm this Sunday at Lakeside, South Melbourne.
In other action this weekend, the NPL 1 E and NPL 1 W seasons reach their conclusion today.

In NPL 1 E, Kingston City and Box Hill United are both still in the running for a third-place finish. Kingston is away to Murray United, whilst Box Hill United could have a say in who wins the division title when it hosts league leader Melbourne Victory.

In NPL 1 W, 10th-placed Brunswick City hopes to make it two wins in a row when it hosts seventh-placed Whittlesea Ranges.

In State League Division 4 play-off action on Saturday, West Preston takes on Brimbank Stallions at BT Connor reserve in the North v West SL 4, runners-up playoff.

The winner goes on to meet the 10th placed team from SL 3 NW for a place in SL 3NW next season.

Source: Benteigh Greens TV