Bergers return for second helpings, going back-to-back in NPL Victoria

Bergers return for second helpings, going back-to-back in NPL Victoria


Heidelberg United have secured back-to-back NPL Victoria Premierships after defeating arch-rivals South Melbourne at Olympic Village on Sunday evening.

Goals to Tom Cahill, Alexander Schiavo, and Andrew Cartanos combined with an own goal from South to give the Bergers a 4-0 lead headed into halftime of their catch-up round clash with Hellas.

And although a much improved South was able to answer back twice in the second half, it wasn’t enough to spark the visitors into what would have been a famous comeback, Alexandros running out 4-2 winners.

Sunday’s fixture was the only game played in the Victorian top flight this weekend, the two sides meeting in NPL Victoria’s catch up round as a result of their round nine fixture being abandoned due to a severe injury suffered by Harry Noon.

That injury, abandonment and reaction to it across social media by fans of both South and Heidelberg has added extra verve to the traditional derby clash between the two traditional powerhouses in 2018; the aforementioned Noon handed a one-match suspension for a vulgar gesture he made in the direction of South fans in Heidelberg’s spicy 3-1 victory over South at Lakeside Stadium in round 22.

Unlike last year, when the Bergers were forced to stage a miraculous come-from-behind victory over FC Bulleen Lions in the final round of the season to ensure they secured the premiership over second placed South; this win means that the Bergers are able to put their cue in the rack with two rounds remaining, having secured an unassailable seven-point lead over the second placed Bentleigh Greens on the NPL Victoria table.

Celebrating their 60th anniversary in 2018, Heidelberg has been dominant on their journey to the title, never falling below third following round three and only losing three games over the 24 rounds it took for them to secure the title.

With Premiership now in tow, Head Coach George Katsakis and his side thought’s will now turn to adding further silverware to Olympic Village trophy cabinet.

Sunday’s win ensures that the Berger’s will be given the chance to defend their NPL National Championship in the national finals and they remain alive in the FFA Cup, set to take on NPL SA side Adelaide Comets in South Australia on 29 August in the Round of 16.

The major prize for the Bergers however, will be the NPL Victoria Championship. Last year, in spite of all their success, Victoria’s top prize eluded Heidelberg, losing in the Grand Final to Bentleigh Greens at Lakeside Stadium.

For defeated South Melbourne, their chances of finals – whilst not dead – have been dealt a hammer blow. Hellas remain five points adrift of Port Melbourne in the top six following Sunday’s defeat and are five points behind seventh-placed Melbourne Knights – who with a likely win over already-relegated cellar dwellers Bulleen Lions in the next round can ensure South miss finals.

Perhaps of more concern for interim Head Coach Con Tangalakis and his side will be the relegation playoff position, which they sit only three points clear of.

South will next week travel to the Reggio Calabria Club to face Avondale FC, who are currently in the midst of a battle for second place with Bentleigh, before then hosting Port Melbourne in the final round of the season.

If results go their way, the game against the Sharks could serve as a “win and you’re in” game to decide the last of NPL Victoria’s final places. Lose, and it could consign South to a one-off playoff game with their survival in the top flight on the line.

HEADER IMAGE: Heidelberg United / Sally Tsalikidis