Heidelberg United hosted old rival Melbourne Knights on a shivering Sunday afternoon, hoping to keep pace with the pack in the top half of the ladder.
With impressive performances as a substitute in recent weeks, John Roberts got the green light to start in the match, pairing up with Luka Ninkovic for a more formidable front line for the Warriors.
With Roberts showing his pace and dribbling ability on the wing, and Ninkovic with his towering capabilities, this duo may become a real threat in the front third at the business end of the season.
An early cross from Adrian Zahra that was deflected came to Eoin Ashton, whose shot on goal was saved Thomas Manos.
Ninkovic leapt well to nod the ball to give Roberts, who was thwarted again by Manos, with the duo working well in combination.
Another player finding added freedom in the new formation going forward was Josh Wilkins who combined nicely with Sean Ellis, for a low driven cross to Ninkovic whose nap shot was inches wide of the target.
The away side, relying on counter attacks, opened the score before the hour mark through a pass to Mohammed Sumaoro, whose low shot gave the lead to the Knights.
Moments later, as if to underscore the impetus and driving force in their play, the Warriors restored parity. A low pinpoint cross from Wilkins found Ninkovic, who hit it beautifully first time past the keeper.
The Knights retool the lead from another break forward, switching the ball to Glen Albano who struck a low shot past Theodoridis.
The ‘Bergers continued to press for a second equaliser, and into stoppage time, Ninkovic and Mallan Roberts both found headers, with the ball coming to Wilkins. The bullocking right wing back struck an unerring shot past Manos at the near post to tie up the game to and keep his side equal on points with Hume City and Bentleigh Greens in fourth spot.
HUFC TV caught up with a content George Katsakis in the post-match interview.
“It was always going to be tough, all the teams in the top half playing amongst themselves as a matter of fact there are no easy games as we have seen in the last few results but to get the point back is the most important thing.”
Josh Wilkins gave his opinions on making a recent habit of scoring goals in injury time.
“When we are chasing results, l need to get forward a little bit more than usual. l am getting in the right position and putting it away as much as l can, and trying to rescue a result.”
Heidelberg United will face another stern test when it hosts Bentleigh Greens on Sunday (July 11) at 3pm at Olympic Village.
Heidelberg United 2 (L. Ninkovic 58’, J. Wilkins 90+2’,) – Melbourne Knights 2 (M. Sumaoro 57’, G. Albano 79’,)
GK – 1 – Chris Theodoridis
2 – Josh Wilkins
4 – Mallan Roberts
5 – Ajdin Fetahagic
9 – Adrian Zahra (C)
14 – John Roberts
19 – Sean Ellis (11 – Thomas Strickland 63’)
20 – Luka Ninkovic
21 – Eoin Ashton (8 – Dusan Bosnjak 84’)
22 – Dominic Falla (6 – Lewis Hall 75’)
33 – Jackson Lino (15 – Luke Burgess 84’)
Subs not used:
GK – 63 – Nicholas Eres