Warriors Climb Into Top 6

By Alex Bahgdasarian

Heidelberg United held off old rival Melbourne Knights with a gritty 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon in a match that saw both clubs in an enthralling battle for a top six spot approaching the business end of the season. The hard fought victory sees the ‘Bergers climb into the top six for the first time this season.

The ‘Bergers gave the faithful home supporters something to cheer about early on, with Sean Ellis providing a cross that Kaine Sheppard got the faintest of touches to, giving them a fourth minute lead.

So much of the recent attacking impetus the Warriors have displayed has been due to the integral role of Josh Pin, whose return has revitalised the front line.

However, somewhat against the run of play, the Knights equalised through Luka Celic, who hit a well struck goal into the corner. Despite its great current run of form with five wins and two draws, the one criticism that can be made of Heidelberg has been its inability to keep a clean sheet.

Undaunted, ‘Bergers responded well with a nice weighted pass from Dom Falla cutting through the defence with Pin receiving the ball to feed it off to Adrian Zahra, who was initially denied by the woodwork, but had the presence of mind to pounce on the rebound to reclaim the lead.

Just two minutes, Pin was involved yet again, with his pace once again too much for the Knights’ defence. His pinpoint pass to Ellis allowed the latter to extend the lead, once again proving to be a thorn in the side of the Knights, as he inevitably seems to be each meeting. The ‘Bergers by this stage rampant, leading 3-1, and the match barely half an hour old – the supporters in the terraces in a buoyant mood, and hoping for more after the main break.

The Knights grabbed a goal back in the second half from close range with Gian Albano being the scorer but it wasn’t enough against a team that has turned on the screws in the NPL competition, with a win putting the ‘Bergers into the top six and within reach of playing finals football.

Relieved coach George Katsakis mentioned that despite the win, the ‘Bergers really had to dig in and spend large parts of the second half defending stoutly to hold on.

“It is a pity we got to that point, because l thought we were comfortable until half-time, with the numerous goal scoring opportunities but we didn’t come out and execute our plan, second half was mostly about defending.”

Josh Pin, who turned provider with two assists and electrified the crowd, shared his thoughts about playing alongside strike partner in Kaine Sheppard.

“The more consistent that we are playing together, the more I think we gel each week. Over the past few weeks, we have been training hard to keep those combinations, improve and make them effective.”

Next up for Heidelberg United is the Round 19 away match on Saturday (June 25) at Paisley Park at 6:00pm against Altona Magic.


Match Details:

Heidelberg United 3 (K. Sheppard 4’, A. Zahra 28’, S. Ellis 30’) – 2 Melbourne Knights (L. Celic 19’, G. Albano 58’)

Line up:

GK – 1 Brendan White

4 – Mallan Roberts

5 – Ajdin Fetahagic

8 – Dominic Falla

9 – Adrian Zahra (captain)

10 – Ivan Franjic

12 – Deion Nikolaidis (20 – Luka Ninkovic 88’)

14 – Kaine Sheppard (23 – Chudiar Tharjiath 88’)

17 – Josh Pin (21 – Eoin Ashton 67’)

18 – Anthony Theodoropoulos (15 – Brian Summerskill 67’)

19 – Sean Ellis (22 – Kazuki Okada 80’)

Subs not used:

GK – 63 Nick Eres