It doesn’t get any bigger than this in the context of the 2019 NPL Victoria season title fight. First versus second in the penultimate round, with just a point separating Avondale and Heidelberg, with both sides set to battle it out for more than bragging rights.
Avondale has led the way for the whole season, at one stage 10 points ahead of the ‘Bergers. Just six weeks ago, Avondale held a comfortable seven point advantage over Heidelberg, but in the run home the gap has closed considerably. The Avengers have been defeated in three of their past six matches in what may be an indication of the burden of being a front-runner over an extended time is showing.
For Heidelberg, it’s been a slow burn over that period. A shock away defeat at Kingston City is the only blemish in a run that has seen it haul itself back into contention for a third successive Premiers’ Plate. The ‘Bergers had a chance to come into this match as league leaders, but were held to a scoreless draw last week by an in-form Oakleigh in the Round 19 catch up match.
When the teams last met in Round 12, the end result was a more than feisty 1-1 draw. The combatants of the 2018 Victorian Grand Final have built up a steady rivalry that was on display at the Olympic Village – filled with pride, bravado, not without a touch of controversy and more than a share of bravado. With the title on the line at 2:45pm at Avenger Park this Saturday (August 17), expect plenty of fireworks.
Heidelberg United’s coach George Katsakis sums it up aptly:
“There’s no doubt about it – these two teams have been the best over the season so far. It’s two teams that are solid, strong and well structured.
“We’ve prepared for a tough game against a tough opponent who we know will give it all, and should we come out on top, we’ll know we’ve earnt it.