In what was a remarkable derby game between two iconic football club’s, Heidelberg United has somehow withstood 90 minutes of South Melbourne dominance to snatcha 1-0 victory at Olympic Village on Sunday.
Coming into the game both clubs knew that a win would ensure that they would climb into second place, the position that was already occupied by South Melbourne who had entered the contest on the back of 10 undefeated games.
The away side, with veteran and club legend VaughanCoveny back in the line-up started the game on fire, with Gianni De Nittis missing two classic chances to open the scoring in the opening ten minutes, only to be thwarted by Peter Gavalas in the Heidelberg goal.
South continued to bombard the Warriors goal andGavalas stood tall to deny another chance, after a bullet free kick by Fernando was steered well onto the target.
The game changed in the 15th minute however when some pushing behind play between Coveny and Eric Vasiliadis culminated with the Heidelberg veteran clutching his face.
With the referee and all fans unaware of what had occurred, Heidelberg players including Vasiliadis pleaded with both the central referee Perry Murand his assistant Hakan Anaz to send the big Kiwi off.
To the dismay of the strong travelling contingent, Mur reached inhis pocket and remarkably pulled out the red card to send Coveny off.
South responded immediately after the send-off, but Gavalas stood firm, thwarting Joseph Youssef, Gianni De Nittis and Goran Zoric with some well positioned goalkeeping.
The Blues faithful were growing increasingly frustrated by the inability to score the opening goal and were left scratching their heads once again moments later after Fernando unbelievably hit a one-on-one chance from inside the area wide of the target.
Just before the break the away side had yet another chance to open the scoring with Shane Nunes hitting a well-weighted long ballover the stagnant Heidelbergdefence and into the path of the wide open Gianni De Nittis. With only Gavalasin front of him, De Nittis hit his header into the prying arms of the Heidelberg custodian.
Despite remaining with 10 men, South started the second half in an attacking mode in an attempt to exploit the timid Heidelberg defence.
Heidelberg had the first meaningful chance of the half however, when a speculative drive from the left hand side of the area by Marinos Gasparis sailed inches wide of the post and Tommi Tomich.
South responded immediately when two inviting crosses into the area were met by De Nittis and the well-advanced Shane Nunes who both were able to nod the chances onto the target.
As per the bulk of chances in the opening half, Gavalas cleanly caught both balls to once again thwart South.
With South slowing down after playing the majority of the game with 10 men, Heidelberg started to gather possession as the game wore on and missed two half chances with Gasparis and Mark Tsiorlas hitting shots wide of the target.
Heidelberg continued to push forward and a speculative long range volley by Osagie Ederaro dipped onto the target from 30 yards, only to be denied by Tommi Tomich who fisted the ball away from danger.
It would be Heidelberg that would go ahead after a beautiful swinging ball into the area by Jim Drossos found Mark Tsiorlas with some space ahead of Steven O’Dor.
Tsiorlas then had the composure to hold his ground and steer a volley into the bottom corner to seemingly give Heidelberg the win.
South had one final chance to get something from thisgame when Fernando was released into space inside the area.
With Gavalas committing, the South faithful thought that Fernando would score, however the Futsalroo opted to chip the keeper rather than to steer the ball into one of the corners.
The loss gives sends South into fourth position, with Altona and Heidelberg leap-frogging South.
South now will re-group and host the bottom-placed Preston at Bob Jane Stadium in two weeks.