Reigning NPL Champion Heidelberg United kicked off the NPL season with a 1-1 draw at home against Pascoe Vale on Valentine’s Day evening.

Watched by an Olympic Village crowd of around 1300, the Bergers started with a virtually unchanged line-up from that which lost the Community Shield final against Bentleigh Greens the week before. The exception was midfield strongman Harry Noon who replaced Alex Schiavo who started on the bench.

It was Noon who gave his team the lead on the half hour mark when he netted from an excellent Andrew Cartanos cross.

The visitors were a little fortunate not to go into the break more than a single goal to the deficit as both Noon and Sean Ellis went close to doubling the score for the Bergers.

However the Vales came out on the front foot at the start of the second half forcing an excellent save from Bergers keeper Chris Theodoridis. On the half hour mark, Vale’s danger-man, Dutch forward Davey Van’t Schip, levelled the score.

Heidelberg United coach turned to his bench using all three substitutes in the final stanza in a bid to maintain intensity and push for a winner. With the home team pressing hard in search of a winner, the match came to an abrupt and unexpected end minutes before the final whistle, due to a light failure, with the Bergers having to be content with just a point.