Confidence high heading into Altona East Phoenix Cup tie

Off a quick turnaround, Heidelberg United are full steam ahead with their pursuit in the Australia Cup, taking on Altona East Phoenix SC on Tuesday night.

The ‘Bergers are matched up against the Phoenix hailing from Victorian State League Division 2 North-West, with the state-based preliminary rounds continuing to roll on into Round 5.

It is set to be an exciting contest, with the Warriors feeling optimistic off the back of their recent win in NPL Victoria against Hume City.

A relieved George Katsakis spoke of the importance of the victory over an equally desperate opponent that night.

“I feel relieved, the pressure was mounting up for coaching staff, the club, players, and everybody,” he said.

“That’s an indication of what’s been happening over the last two or three weeks. We’ve been in a similar situation and haven’t taken our chances, and could’ve been comfortable leaders.

“We took our chances being 3-0 up at half time. We slipped an early goal which put them back into the game.

“We’ve nullified things that we had to correct, and we are working on fixing those. We executed what we wanted in this game, and that’s the encouraging thing.”

A Warrior who brings red hot form is Kaine Sheppard, who nailed a first half hat-trick to put the ‘Bergers in such a commanding position.

As a returnee to the club this season, he has proved to be a real focal point.

“The recent result was a long time coming as we played decent football, just wasn’t finding the net,” Sheppard said.

“Our first half was really good and in the second Hume put us on the back foot, but we showed good grit and we need to show we could do that.

“I went back up top and the boys really helped with the service. The hat-trick and the win is amazing for us and brings that confidence back that we needed.

“Cup games are always fun and we know what they bring – we need to be wary.

“I’ve heard some good things about Altona East and regardless of where they are we need to be careful.”

Rotation will be key for Katsakis as he figures out the right balance to keep everybody fresh.

“We’ve had a few boys that didn’t start today and we’ll try to rotate as best we can,” he added.

“We need to be smart in how we do that and not take any chances – and still need to get the result.

“You can only beat who’s in front of you and we’ve put in the work to prepare.”