by John Fotinos
Make no mistake – they don’t necessarily like each other a whole lot – Heidelberg United Alexander & the Avondale Avengers.
But that all makes for a healthy rivalry and exhilarating battles over the past few seasons. And on Saturday afternoon at Avengers Park, it’s game on again as another chapter in this battle of skills and wills takes place.
Avondale, consistently up amongst the best in the past few years, host a newly minted Warriors outfit struggling to find the consistency of performance after a monumentally successful era. Consider just the last two NPL matches – from the spectacular 6-0 away win at Dandenong City a fortnight ago, to an almost equally spectacular 4-0 loss at Green Gully on a rain sodden Friday night last week. It’s enough to give even the experienced coach George Katsakis pause for thought approaching the half season mark with his team in the unfamiliar position in the lower half of the table.
One ‘Berger who’ll have fond memories of this venue is the talismanic Sean Elis. The gifted Warrior lines up for his 150th senior appearance, and who could forget his miraculous injury time winner at this ground in the penultimate round of 2019 – a winner which took the ‘Bergers to the top of the table – after trailing Avondale all season – and a third straight Premiers’ Plate.
In their only meeting in 2021, at the Olympic Village, it was the “Little Mexican” (Adrian Zahra), who added “Bandit” to his nickname, pouncing on a goalkeeper error to poach an equaliser for his side. Avondale would have been thoroughly sick of the thought of Zahra netting again, with the livewire having scored the game opener in the 2018 NPL Grand Final encounter between the two sides.
The form guide might just have the Avengers as favourites in this match, however, one can be sure that this will be a tough tight affair – write the ‘Bergers off at your peril – you just know they’ll lift for this one!
The action kicks off at 3:15pm this Saturday May 7 at Avengers Park in West Brunswick.
Tune into the HUFC TV Audio Broadcast of this match via the club site on Facebook.