Heidelberg United fans will long remember Tuesday night as the night their beloved Bergers upstaged an A-League club to progress into the final 16 of the FFA Cup competition. The Bergers became just the second Victorian club to defeat an A-League rival in the history of the FFA Cup, when it defeated Perth Glory 1-0 at home on Tuesday evening thanks to a spectacular Kenny Athiu strike soon after the break.
Athiu and strike partner Sean Ellis, had earlier given a hint of what was to come when just before the break, they both had the best chances of the game to that point only to be foiled by Glory gloveman Liam Reddy. The home side opened the game taking it to the Glory in a direct fashion, pumping balls into the Glory box whenever they got the chance and working hard all over the pitch.
The home side looked uncomfortable against the visitors attack for a brief ten minute spell when strikers Taggart and Keogh threatened briefly. Keogh went down under a challenge, but had his appeal for a penalty waved away by the referee much to the disbelief of coach Ken Lowe. However the Bergers finished the half the stronger and when Ellis combined with Athiu for the latter to fire a missile into the top right hand corner for the winning goal just after the break, the Bergers grew noticeably more confident in their play.
Defensively the Bergers were outstanding, led by skipper Luke Byles and Steven Pace with Jack Petrie screening effectively and breaking up numerous Glory sorties. When the A-League team did threaten as they did on a couple of occasions in the second half, Bergers keeper Chris Theodoridis was up to the task saving good chances from Glory’s Keogh and sub Daniel Stynes.
But it was the Bergers, who once again finished the stronger of the two teams, with Reuben Way firing into the side netting late in the match from a clear opening.
Heidelberg striker Kenny Athiu celebrates with teammates after scoring a spectacular winner to knock out Perth Glory. PHOTO: Kostas Deves
The Bergers had strong performers all over the park, with none of their players lowering their colours to their Glory opponents on the day.
For Heidelberg coach George Katsakis, the win ranks ” as one of the biggest wins in my coaching career. The plan was to go at them and go at them at the pace we usually do in our long NPL season. Had it not been for a couple of blunders in front of goal, it could’ve been two or three. ..I think we’re finding the gap between the A-League and NPL’s narrowing to be quite honest. There’s been a lot of talk about that. We’ve talked about a second tier and some of these ( Heidelberg) boys are fairly appropriate for forming part of those teams. No doubt today, who was the A-League team out there? I think we really stood tall and took the game to them. We looked on par.”
Results of other Rd of 32 FFA Cup matches played midweek were:
Olympia FC 0-5 Apia Leichhardt
Peninsula Power 0 -2 Melbourne City
Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 Wellington Phoenix
Blacktown City 3-2 Central Coast Mariners
Darwin Rovers 0-8 Sydney FC
Gold Coast City 3-1 Western Knights
Moreton Bay United 4-2 Broadmeadow Magic