Steven Pace on rebounding from opening defeat

Emma Burke from HUFC Media caught up with senior men’s assistant coach Steven Pace in the lead up to Round 2 of NPLM Victoria, where Heidelberg United will host Dandenong Thunder in their first home game of the season at Olympic Park.

What were your thoughts on the first game?

It was a bit of a disappointing performance that didn’t go our way, obviously with the fact it was the first round, against South Melbourne in the big derby game. We probably didn’t play the football we would’ve liked to have played. So we’re doing a lot of work this week to rectify that coming into our game against the Thunder on Sunday.

How has this week’s training been going? Have they been focusing on anything in particular?

This week, we thought our pressure around the ball was poor against South Melbourne, so our session on Monday was based around pressuring in our press and getting players into the right areas to press the ball well enough to cause a turnover and attack from there.

Any news on Reuben Way?

Reuben trained on Monday, but he didn’t train with the group. He did some stuff with Michael Coppo, who’s our performance trainer/physio. Reuben got through the session quite well by all accounts and it’ll just depend on how he pulled up and how he goes at training on Friday before we make a call on whether he can be part of the squad for Sunday.

Do you think missing Ajdin Fetahagic will impact the team greatly this week?

No doubt. AJ’s a very good young player and he had a very good season for us last year. He’s a big part of our back four so it’ll definitely have an effect on our squad this week and the fact that he’s out means that we have to fill a hole also. That’s the tricky part – who do we slot back there to sit next to Mallan Roberts? These are the things George Katsakis and I are going to discuss this week. We’ll see how everyone trains and make a final call on Friday. It’s just more of a re-shuffle, so we need to fill a hole again this week. That’s just the way it’s obviously played out with certain injuries and suspensions after the red card.

How are you feeling about the first home game for the season?

I’m excited, actually very excited. We were very disappointed after last week, and we feel that this week is going to give us a good chance to atone for that. Being at home for the game is obviously going to be a big help – the more ‘Bergers supporters we get down there the better. We’re really confident coming into this week. It wasn’t a great start for us but we still know we have got good quality in our squad, and got good depth. We’ve got a few players that can step in and do a job for us, so even though we’re a few injuries and a suspension down, we still feel like we can fill those holes and we’re still positive about getting a result this week.

What are your expectations for the game against the Thunder?

I think we need to get back to some clean sheets and stop conceding goals. For me, that’s the biggest one. I’m pretty confident we’ll score goals this year with the fire power we have up top, but we’ve just got to get a bit more structured defensively. We need to get a bit more organised behind the ball when we lose it to ensure the opposing teams aren’t hitting us on the break, and therefore we know we can deal with those right turnovers a bit higher up the park. We’re looking to win, we’re playing at home, Dandy Thunder are coming in off a win so they’re going to be up and about and full of confidence. We’re definitely looking for no less than three points on the weekend.