BENDIGO City FC's bid to secure its first NPL2 West win of the season faces a major stumbling block this Saturday.
City come up against a Murray United FC team that sits fifth on the NPL2 East ladder and bolstered by the inclusion of former Melbourne Victory champion and Socceroo Archie Thompson.
New Zealand-born Thompson has gone back to grassroots soccer in 2017, committing to a series of matches for the north-east Victorian-based team.
He booted a goal in United's 2-all draw last weekend against Dandenong City SC.
Thompson has lined-up in six games and kicked two goals.
He will provide a huge test for a Bendigo City defence which has conceded a competition-high 37 goals, including seven in a 7-nil loss to arch-rivals Ballarat City last weekend.
Thompson told Fairfax Media earlier this year that his decision was heavily influenced by the opportunity to return to his roots on the Border and play in front of family and friends.
“I was a little surprised – when I said yes, I had butterflies in my stomach, there was a real buzz for me and I probably didn’t expect that,” Thompson said.
“I feel like I’m coming home – I’m one kilometre from where I played junior football at Kelly Park and one kilometre from mum and dad.
“Hopefully I can contribute on the field and put a few goals away, but I also have a role to play as a mentor and leader for some of the younger guys.
“It’s a role that I played in the last couple of years at Victory – no one says it out loud, but these boys are looking to you, watching how you prepare, trying to come to grips with the demands of playing professionally.
Thompson played 54 games for the Socceroos between 2001-13.
He played 224 games for the Victory and finished his A-League career in 2016 on 90 goals.
The match at Epsom Huntly Recreation Reserve kicks-off at 5pm.
It will be preceded by the under-20 youth clash at 3pm.
- with The Border Mail