Another week sees Heidelberg United on the road and facing an evenly-matched opposition as the challenge for a coveted top-two finish heats up another notch. The ‘Bergers, fresh off a dominant win at Kingston Heath last Friday, face an equally buoyant Dandenong City at the Frank Holohan Soccer Complex on Friday.
When the sides met back in Round 10, Heidelberg United scored all three points on the back of a 5-2 win, leaving Dandenong City with just one win and a draw from its first 10 games in the NPL. But, much has changed since that late April fixture, much on the back of Dandenong City’s foray into the mid-season player transfer market.
A mid-season change of coaching panel, along with the signing of ex-A-League stars Adrian Leijer (defender), Carl Valeri (nidfielder) and Brandan Santalab (forward) during the transfer window has seen Dandenong City steadily climb up and out of the relegation battle – and leaves itl with an outside chance of making the top six.
Heidelberg United is starting to show signs that it is hitting its straps at just about the ideal time of the season, and with several players either returning or due to return from injury soon. With many of the inclusions against Bentleigh having a solid game, it will be a case of needing to perform to be in the starting team – perhaps the type of coaching headache George Katsakis and Jeff Olver would prefer to have leading into another finals series.
“Our second half (against Bentleigh) was exceptional. To be so dominant and move the ball so quickly against a team that was second on the ladder at this time of the season is phenomenal. Defensively, we were very good and our midfield worked hard to close down any avenues they might have had to hurt us. Once we got going with the first goal, we took control, and the rest was history” surmised Katsakis.
With the two teams so well-matched and boasting very similar records since their Round 10 encounter, Heidelberg will have to be at its best to come away with a positive result at an unfamiliar venue. The equation, however, remains simple for the ‘Bergers – keep winning its last handful of games in the regular season to give itself a real chance of another trophy.
HUFC TV will be live streaming the match from shortly before 8:30pm on Friday (July 26) on its social media platforms via the links at www.hufc.com.au/hufc-tv