Late goal denies North Geelong
By Teo Pellizzeri
North Geelong Warriors snared a valuable point but failed to match the exploits of their relegation rivals after a 3-3 draw against Heidelberg United in PS4 NPL Victoria on Sunday.
Heidelberg very nearly snatched all three points after equalising in stoppage time and missing a gilt-edged chance to win the match at Olympic Village.
North Geelong sits 12th (15 points, -27 goal difference) after the draw, ahead of Werribee City (13th, 15, -29) and Dandenong Thunder (14th, 15, -33) in the three-way battle to avoid the two automatic relegation places. Weekend wins for Dandenong and Werribee leaves the relegation battle on a knife-edge with only two rounds to play.
North Geelong held a 3-2 lead from Reardo Luka's goal in the 60th minute all the way until stoppage time, only for Heidelberg's pressing to finally break through.
Dan Heffernan headed in from close range after Jamie Cumming's cross from the by-line, the defender first to run onto a palm out to the right by North Geelong goalkeeper Daniel Zilic.
Heffernan could have claimed all three points in the fourth minute of stoppage time but his header went wide right after a cross from deep by Kaine Sheppard.
Luka gave North Geelong the lead when he met Michael Anderson's cross from the right with a clever flick to put the ball inside the left post.
North Geelong rode their luck to see off a host of Heidelberg chances up until Heffernan's equaliser, but were an ever-present danger on the counter attack.
Heidelberg had earlier started the match in perfect fashion when Andrew Cartanos latched on to a shallow defensive clearance to volley in the opener in the seventh minute.
But North Geelong responded immediately through Anderson. Luka dashed down the left and tried his luck from the top of the box, with Heidelberg goalkeeper Griffin McMaster parrying his shot into Anderson's path.
North Geelong then took the lead on 31 minutes when Anderson's cross from the right was squared by Luka into the path of Juso Julardzija to tap in.
Heidelberg would draw level in the 45th minute when Heffernan controlled a long free kick from McMaster and steered a hopeful shot at Zilic. The North Geelong goalkeeper could not stop the attempt as it squirmed through his legs and rolled in.
Heidelberg United 3 (Cartanos 7" Heffernan 45" 90+1") drew with North Geelong Warriors 3 (Anderson 9" Julardzija 31" Luka 60")
HEIDELBERG UNITED: 23 McMASTER Griffin, 2. CUMMING Jamie, 7. WAY Reuben, 9. KANAKARIS Kostas (3. DOUMBALIS Les 63") , 10. PETRIE Jack, 12. ATHIU Kenny (22. SHEPPARD Kaine 63"), 13. BYLES Luke, 14. HEFFERNAN Daniel, 17. PACE Steven, 21. GOVAS Andreas (11. McGOUGH Mark 81"), 24. CARTANOS Andrew
Unused Substitutes: 1. KOUTSODONTIS Jason, 4. LAZARIDIS Johnny
Yellow cards: Pace 45+2"
Red cards: None
NORTH GEELONG WARRIORS: 1. ZILIC Daniel, 2. LEWIS Darren, 3. TOWNLEY Matt, 4. JURKOVIC Nikola, 6. PUGH Josh, 7. LUKA Reardo (10. YUSUF Yusuf 71"), 8. CICHELLO Vito, 11. JULARDZIJA Juso (12. RICHARDS Gareth 77") , 16. GRGIC Michael, 17. JURCIC Nicholas, 23. ANDERSON Michael (9. SAGLAM Rudi 88")
Unused substitutes: 5. BANOVAC Anthony, 31. FLAVELL Hamish
Yellow cards: Cichello 14" Luka 44", Anderson 59", Jurcic 90"
Red Cards: None