By Alex Bagdasarian
Heidelberg United’s winning Cup form continued when it faced NPL3 outfit Ballarat City in Round 6 of the Australia Cup on Tuesday night at the Grange Reserve – the home of Kingston City. It takes the ‘Bergers through to Round 7, just one win away from a guaranteed spot in the nationwide Final 32 of the Australia Cup, and a Dockerty Cup Semi Final spot.
With Joseph Franjic sidelined after the win on the weekend, his brother Ivan Franjic replaced him in the starting XI, while Nick Eres made the starting eleven as goalkeeper.
The ‘Bergers have been dominant in the Cup games, cruising to big wins in the process, with the momentum slowly building in recent weeks.
The Warriors, buoyed by supporters living in the suburbs in or around Clayton South, scored early on from an in swinging corner from Eoin Ashton, which found, Kaine Sheppard rose to the occasion with a leaping header to put his side ahead.
With Brian Summerskill pulling the strings in the midfield, and continuing on his influential form in the win against Avondale, he showed his qualities once again with a sublime pass to Kazuki Okada. The move ended up with a slide pass to Sheppard, who had little trouble notching up his second of the night.
Fortune favoured the ‘Bergers for the third goal, as a cross from Ashton got a touch from the head of a defender to sneak past the keeper for an own goal, effectively killing off the contest before half time.
Ballarat did manage to score a goal early on in the second half, with Patrick Karras capitalising on some sloppy defensive play to skirt past Nick Eres and slot away an open goal.
Making a brief cameo, the return of Josh Pin will prove to be a huge asset at this point of the season for an injury riddled Warriors squad – with concerns about the trio of Zahra, Summerskill and Roberts, all of whom were forced from the field before the hour mark through injury.
Heidelberg United will look to continue their winning streak in the NPL fixture on Sunday afternoon (May 15) at 3pm against bottom team Eastern Lions, marking the halfway point of the season.
Heidelberg United 3 (K. Sheppard 11,’ 34,’ L. Lauton OG) – 1 Ballarat City (P. Karras 49,’)
GK – 1 Nick Eres
5 – Ajdin Fetahagic
9 – Adrian Zahra (c) (24 – Hussain Al Sharifi 25’)
10 – Ivan Franjic
12 – Deion Nikolaidis
14 – Kaine Sheppard
15 – Brian Summerskill (4 – Mallan Roberts 46’; 20 – Luka Ninkovic 52’)
18 – Anthony Theodoropoulos (38 – Mathew Tsalikidis 82’)
21 – Eoin Ashton
22 – Kazuki Okada
23 – Chudiar Tharjiath (19 – Josh Pin 82’)
Subs not used
GK – 1 Brendan White