Heidelberg United visited Bentleigh Greens in Round 3 of the NPL men’s season, on a wet and humid Friday night at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex that was an evening to expect the unexpected.
With the sprinklers taking out the supporters on the club side of the ground in the pre-match build up – whether it was humorous or even controversial – it set the tone for an eventful night coming up.
Boosted by the return of Ajdin Fetahagic, the ‘Bergers also promoted Chudiar Tharjiath to the starting XI.
It was a Warrior outfit that were out to prove to a point, showing glimpses on the counter attack with the first real move of the night a clever build up play between Chudiar Tharjiath and Sean Ellis, with the latter hitting his shot just over the bar.
As the backline faced yet another change in the absence of Mallan Roberts, Joseph Franjic notably stood up to be in the right spots at the right time, particularly with clearances.
The defence – in front of goalkeeper Nick Eres – needed to remain firm. He made his first huge save early in the second half diving to his left, evidently showing how compact the Heidelberg side were in this game.
Moments later, a pinpoint cross from Ivan Franjic found Kaine Sheppard for an instep volley that went just wide. Opportunities from nothing can cause opponents so much discomfort and that is what the Warriors are capable of.
Eres was called into action once again, to deny a header with a spectacular save to his right.
The second half’s action ramped up significantly, with the deadlock very close to being broken. What seemed like a certain goal for the Greens was denied by Joey Franjic clearing the ball off the line, putting a nomination down for goal line save of the year.
Sheppard was involved in another golden chance to take the lead, but his next attempt was blocked.
Just when we thought we’d seen it all, not once but twice the match balls were flat and had to be replaced. The Heidelberg faithful showed their frustration at the events that were unfolding right before their eyes.
With Heidelberg being dominant – and the home side not looking like scoring except for a stroke of fortune – they were awarded a penalty with Pierce Waring putting that one away to give Bentleigh the lead.
Despite the score line showing Bentleigh took their chance, Heidelberg caused them to be vulnerable at the back and looked as dangerous as the previous attack whenever they went forward with purpose.
George Katsakis gave a positive take to HUFC Media on the narrow loss:
“It’s a big improvement on the last two weeks, l was very proud of the boys,” he said.
“They gave it their all, their efforts were incredible, unfortunately to a soft goal due to a penalty it’s the way football goes but our improvement was phenomenal.”
Nick Eres gave his thoughts to HUFC Media:
“We showed real heart and it was disappointing not to get the result,” he said.
“The boys left everything out on the pitch, we deserved the three points, the decision we conceded was not ideal, but the defence was brilliant today and if we play more like that, we will win more games than we lose.”
Heidelberg United will have a lot of positives to take from this game and will be hungry for a first win when they host Oakleigh Cannons next Sunday 3pm at Olympic Park.
Bentleigh Greens 1 (Waring 81’ P) – Heidelberg United 0
63 – Nicholas Eres (GK)
5 – Ajdin Fetahagic
6 – Joseph Franjic
8 – Dominic Falla
9 – Adrian Zahra (C)
10 – Ivan Franjic
12 – Deion Nikolaidis
14 – Kaine Sheppard
15 – Brian Summerskill (21 – Eoin Ashton 62’)
19 – Sean Ellis (20 – Luka Ninkovic 68’)
23 – Chudiar Tharjiath (22 – Kazuki Okada 58’)
Subs not used:
1 – Alex Golikidis (GK)
24 – Hussain Al Sharifi
U21 Match Result:
Bentleigh Greens 3 (Lambadaridis 8′, Pollard 42′ (P), Fernandes 47′) – Heidelberg United 1 (Yoannidis 12′)