Warriors v Cannons Preview

by Greg Blake

Heidelberg United FC vs Oakleigh Cannons FC



Heidelberg United’s Saturday night win at Altona Magic reminded me of that little gust of a southerly ruffling the tree-tops after a summer hot spell. The change hasn’t arrived quite yet, but the signs are there that relief is imminent.

It’s a pass mark for new boss, John Anastasiadis, but the better gauge as to where Alexander is at early in 2024 comes this Friday night when the Warriors defend home turf against arch-rivals Oakleigh. If the cool change is sweeping in, trust it being tested when the Cannons bring the heat in round two.

The win at Magic was solid enough, but it was just a win against a team blown to smithereens by Oakleigh in the last year’s finals. There was a clear new game plan, an air of confidence and a rekindled sense of joy about Heidelberg in the 1-0 triumph. They looked fitter and stronger, none more so than than the irrepressible Sean Ellis.

And I’ve no doubt that Ellis and the significant cluster of Heidelberg players retained by  Anastasiadis from 2023 will be stirred by some not small degree of vengeful indignation when they face the Cannons this week.

Chris Taylor’s Cannons humiliated Heidelberg three times last season, winning 5-0 at Catalina Street, 5-1 at their place and 3-0 in the Dockerty Cup Final. Oakleigh’s win at Olympic Village was an NPL worst home loss for Alexander and the aggregate 10-1 league scoreline was also a Berger NPL-era worst.

And it’s worth noting that Heidelberg United is undefeated at Olympic Village since a home loss – ironically against Altona Magic – in May last season. That run of nine games undefeated in league and cup (discounting the home game against Avondale played at the John Cain Reserve) includes seven straight wins coming into Friday night.

But likely Oakleigh won’t care too much. Their last two starts at Olympic Village; a 5-0 drubbing of South Melbourne in the 2022 grand final and a 5-0 clobbering of the Bergers early last season.

And just a footnote on Ellis, who looks a million bucks heading into the new season. At 34 and a recent new dad, Ellis looked done at times over the past two seasons. Already a club legend, the diminutive flame-haired Scot looks ready for a huge 2024 season. And his next goal for the club will give Ellis 65 career league and cup goals for Alexander and edge him past Jimmy Campbell into all-time second top – behind only Gary Cole – on the list of club goalscorer.

Let’s hope he bags a couple against Oakleigh on Friday night.

Match Details: 

Venue: Olympic Village

Kick Off: 7:30pm