Sheppard sinks Knights to keep Bergers on top
By Lou Verge (@louverga)
Heidelberg United has Kaine Sheppard to thank for the second week running, with the striker giving the home side a 1-0 win over Melbourne Knights on Sunday afternoon.
A breathless first half with several chances for both sides yielded no goals, but Sheppard eventually found a way past Knights goalkeeper Chris May with a 72nd minute header.
Heidelberg started the match on top with most of the possession in the Knights’ half, but Andrew Marth’s men had the first shot on target after 15 minutes.
Stipo Andrijasevic saw his shot bounce in front of Griffin McMaster, but the goalkeeper reacted well to tip it wide of his near post.
The Knights should have taken the lead five minutes later with what would be their best opportunity of the match, as Marijan Cvitkovic bent a cross to the unmarked Andrew Barisic.
But the striker couldn’t keep his header down from the edge of the six yard box.
Daniel Heffernan came close for Heidelberg in the 27th minute with a vicious strike that Chris May’s fingertips diverted just over the crossbar.
May denied Heffernan again minutes later, saving the low shot with his legs after the attacker had been played in behind.
The Knights custodian was busy and pulled off his best save of the match to somehow keep out a 30-yard missile from Nejc Kolman.
The home side was beginning to dominate and had its best opportunity of the first half with five minutes remaining.
Reuben Way found himself one-on-one with May, placing his shot past the goalkeeper, but it rebounded off the bottom of the upright and the Knights defence scrambled to block the follow-up effort.
The Warriors were left scratching their heads as to how they didn’t find a first half breakthrough, as Sheppard’s header smacked the crossbar on the stroke of the interval.
The second half provided fewer clear chances, with Barisic and Way seeing their respective efforts miss the target before the deadlock was finally broken with 20 minutes remaining.
Way stood a cross up from the left wing and Sheppard leapt highest to bury his header from six yards.
The Knights pushed forward in search of an equaliser but couldn’t fashion any notable opportunities as Heidelberg sat back and defended strongly.
Sheppard nearly sealed it with a second goal in stoppage time, but May was again there to maintain the final one-goal margin.
Heidelberg United 1 (Sheppard 72’) defeated Melbourne Knights 0 at Olympic Village, Heidelberg
Heidelberg United: 23. Griffin McMASTER, 2. Jamie CUMMING (11. Jacob WILLIAMS 26’), 13. Luke BYLES, 9. KostaKANAKARIS, 10. Jack PETRIE, 7. Reuben WAY, 21. Andreas GOVAS (3. Les DOUMBALIS 82’), 14. Daniel HEFFERNAN 5. Daniel VASILEVSKI 90’), 20.NejcKOLMAN, 22. KaineSHEPPARD, 17. Steven PACE
Unused substitutes: 1. Christopher MAYNARD, 12. Kenny ATHIU
Yellow card(s): Byles (70’)
Red card(s): None
Melbourne Knights: 1. Chris MAY, 4. Ben SUREY, 5. Milan BATUR, 6. Tomislav USKOK, 8. James McGARRY (7. Chris TALAJIC 80’), 10.Marijan CVITKOVIC (14. Rodrigo Covarrubias 82’), 11. Anthony COLOSIMO (9. Jacob Colosimo 88’), 18. Joshua BREKALO, 21. Stipo ANDRIJASEVIC, 23. Adrian ZAHRA, 27. Andrew BARISIC
Unused substitutes: 25. Hrvoje CAKARUN, 12. Ivan GRGIC
Yellow card(s): None
Red card(s): None