Heidelberg United hosted Dandenong Thunder in Round 2 of the NPL men’s season on a warm Sunday afternoon. After a defeat in the previous round, they were eager to get the win in front of a devoted fan base.
The Warriors made a few changes heading into this clash to try turn the tide with Sean Ellis, Kazuki Okada and debutant Deion Nikolaidis coming in for the injured Josh Pin, Eoin Ashton and suspended Ajdin Fetahagic.
As skipper Reuben Way was still sidelined due to his own injury, Heidelberg needed to be at their very best to overcome a Thunder outfit that hadn’t lost in eight games dating back May of last year.
The ‘Bergers started off the game pressing the away side, but no clear-cut chances to get past a solid Thunder backline. Just like the previous round, it is the creativity that can be improved in this newly Heidelberg squad.
At the other end, Thunder scored the first goal of the afternoon, where a pass managed to find its way to Ali Sulemani who slots it past Nick Eres to put Thunder ahead.
A high challenge from Dominic Falla in the box gave the visitors an opportunity to increase their lead from the penalty spot, where Florent Indalecio put it away.
Before the second half, Heidelberg made two half-time substitutions as Luka Ninkovic and Eoin Ashton replaced Mallan Roberts and Kazuki Okada, hoping this could be the moment to ignite a comeback.
With Ajdin Fetahagic suspended and a hampered Roberts coming off during the break, the backline of Heidelberg was a makeshift one that had Ivan & Joseph Franjic occupying the centre-back positions.
As a result, Thunder added a further two goals with James Poole slotting it past Eres, followed by Sanih Zijai off the bench who was found in space to add misery to a dispirited Heidelberg side, as the frustration and despair was felt in the stands in a disappointing afternoon.
The ‘Bergers will urgently require a win when they travel to play the old enemy of Bentleigh Greens on Friday at 8:30pm at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex.
Heidelberg United 0 – Dandenong Thunder 4 (A. Sulemani 26’, F. Indalecio 39P’, J. Poole 64’, S. Zijai 88’)
63 – Nicholas Eres (GK)
4 – Mallan Roberts (20 – Luka Ninkovic 46’)
6 – Joseph Franjic
8 – Dominic Falla
9 – Adrian Zahra (C)
10 – Ivan Franjic
12 – Deion Nikolaidis
14 – Kaine Sheppard (11 – Andrew Cartanos 60’)
15 – Brian Summerskill
19 – Sean Ellis (23 – Chudiar Tharjiath 62’)
22 – Kazuki Okada (21 – Eoin Ashton 46’)
Subs not used:
1 – Alex Golikidis (GK)
16 – Johnpaul McTheophilus
Heidelberg United 1 – Dandenong Thunder 2