FOR Ballarat Red Devils, this is very much the game they have been waiting for.
For its first five matches this season Ballarat has packed two sides onto the team bus and headed down the Western Freeway to Melbourne, or in one case, Shepparton.
Not to mention the ill-fated trip to Bentleigh that was postponed at the last minute.
But now, the tables have turned.
Ballarat is the first name on the fixture for the first time this year, holding its first ever home game in the newly formed National Premier League Victoria competition.
In what promises to be a massive match for the club, manager James Robinson said the entire club was busting at the seams to finally play on the newly completed pitch at the Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility.
Still seething after letting a 2-0 lead slip last week and forced to settle for a draw against Pascoe Vale, Robinson said his side had a steely resolve to take on the might of South Melbourne on Saturday.
Their opponents are no strangers either. It was only two weeks ago the Red Devils went down to the undefeated South Melbourne.
However, this time they will be without midfielders Shaun Romein and Liam Harding, who are both missing through suspension.
“There’s not going to be too much of a change tactically,” Robinson said.
“It’s about correcting the finer details. South Melbourne have the high-standard players that are going to hurt you if you make mistakes.”
Dane Milovanovic looks set to spend more time in the midfield this week, although the final line-up is yet to be released.
Robinson said the fact it was the first home game of the year had not been mentioned much.“It builds itself up. We don’t have to talk about it much. It generates its own hype,” Robinson said.
After winning their opening two matches of the season, the McDonald’s Reds dropped their next two, before steadying the ship with a draw the next week.
They sit in eighth position out of 14 teams, but have one game in hand of the remainder of the competition.