One of the signs of a top side is how well it responds when its credentials are questioned. For Heidelberg United, the away match against Pascoe Vale posed many potential pitfalls for a variety of reasons – not least the manner of recent losses at home, the mounting injury toll and loss of players due to suspension. The emphatic manner of the 3-1 win over a difficult opponent allayed any pre-match jitters.
In fact, any ‘Berger fears were quickly dispelled by the intense start the team made at CB Smith Reserve. The customary attack on the ball, along with crisp and swift ball movement demonstrated to all that the team was on song.
The game plan went awry after little more than a quarter of an hour, when Steven Pace was winged by another shoulder injury, forcing the popular defender from the field. With barely time to prepare for play, Peter Deng was immediately thrown into the fray.
Heidelberg’s enterprise was rewarded just after the half hour mark, with Tom Cahill opening the score with a headed effort. Harry Noon was the provider, floating in a pin point cross for Cahill to latch on to. Cahill’s goal, however, was cancelled out early in the second half when Pascoe Vale levelled the score through Luca Santilli.
With the ‘Bergers desperate to reclaim the momentum, Tom Cahill’s effort to nudge his side ahead was foiled by the woodwork, the second time the ‘Berger front man was so denied on the night. However, Harry Noon put paid to ‘Berger frustrations with what was more ‘an absolute first-class bona fide work of art’ than just a goal – his left foot curler from range a sublime, yet unstoppable effort – to re-establish the lead.
The ‘Bergers were made to work hard for the three points, with the all three ultimately sealed into stoppage time. Noon, seemingly inevitably the provider once more, setting up substitute Andrew Cartanos for the ‘Bergers’ third of the night. Returning to the squad from injury, Cartanos twisted, turned and teased the Pascoe Vale defenders before squeezing home a shot inside the near post to net his first goal since the world-class effort he produced in the 2018 NPL Grand Final.
Whilst the match-winning goals by Cahill, Cartanos and Noon will grab the headlines, the oft-unheralded work of the midfield duo of Adrian Zahra and the tireless Paul O’Brien was well worthy of coach George Katsakis’ effusive praise.
“We did well across all three lines …… (but) the midfield was the heart pumping the blood through the team. The likes of Adrian and Paul, with others working through there made for the strong win.”
With Lucas Derrick starting to show more of his capabilities, Peter Deng stepping up under difficult circumstances, and the likes of Alex Schiavo, Reuben Way and Jack Petrie available to return, the fight for the top spot is still alive and well.
Pascoe Vale FC 1 (Santilli 54’) – 3 Heidelberg United FC (Cahill 34’, Noon 68’, Cartanos 90 + 3’)
Under 20s Result:
Pascoe Vale FC 2 – 1 Heidelberg United