GV Suns vs Eastern Lions preview

By Alex Mitchell

Riding high after their first win of the National Premier League season, the Goulburn Valley Suns must be ready for the division’s most in-form team tonight at McEwen Reserve.

The unbeaten Eastern Lions, who sit a top the NPL2 East, have taken 10 of 12 points on offer this season and will look for five games unbeaten against the Suns’ finest.

But the Orangemen have not lost to the Lions in their past three starts and coach Craig Carley knows how important an upset win would be.

‘‘I’ve got a lot of respect for the Eastern Lions, they’re a pretty similar club to us in terms of how they’re set up,’’ he said.

‘‘Jimmy (Williams) has got them playing a really good way, they’re a hard-working team and always hard to break down.

‘‘They always give a tough match and play a direct brand of football. They’ve got off to a flyer, but it’s certainly a winnable game for us and we go in full of confidence.’’

It might have required five goals to do it but the Suns finally banked a win last weekend, a 5-4 triumph against Manningham United in which Carley scored twice, taking his tally to four goals in four games.

But yet again the coach called on his troops to lift defensively and start grinding out results.

‘‘We have to cut out mistakes, we’re conceding far too many goals and, if we want to reach the standards we’ve set, we have to start winning some tight games 1-0 and 2-1,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve got full belief in the boys in there but if they aren’t performing there are other guys.

‘‘We’ve got Geordie Lelliott knocking on the door and if guys aren’t performing the spots will be there for the taking.’’

Changes could be on the cards however with Carley and captain Jamie England carrying niggles, defender Adam Gatcum ruled out and back-up goalkeeper Zac McLeod potentially out with a broken wrist.

Forward Alou Kuol will return to the squad and Carley said his pace and zip could cause the Lions some nervy moments.

‘‘He’s an X-factor and he’ll create something for us, he could be the difference against a side like the Lions because the way they set up, there’s space to exploit and we’ll look to get him one-on-one,’’ he said.

●The Suns’ under-20s will be out to respond to a disappointing loss last weekend in tonight’s curtain-raiser against the Lions.

Beaten 6-3 by Manningham United, a promising start to the season has been slightly tainted having won the previous two games.

The Suns enter the contest fifth on the table and will fancy a result against the ninth-placed Lions, who have opened the season with three losses in four games.

●The Suns’ seniors learned their FFA Cup fourth round opposition this week, scheduled for another trip to the city to face the Casey Comets.

The State League One South-East side finished seventh on the table last season, providing a tie the Suns would enter with a great degree of confidence.

The contest is scheduled for the April 20 weekend.