Heidelberg United Wins NPL Victoria Championship
Heidelberg United claimed the NPL Victoria championship with a hard-fought 2-1 win against Avondale FC at AAMI Park on Sunday.
The Bergers, already back to back premiers, are now the state champions of Victorian men's football for the first time since 2001.
Goals to Adrian Zahra and Andrew Cartanos in the first half put Heidelberg in control before a Jonatan Germano tap-in set up a nervous finish.
But a sturdy effort from captain and centre back Luke Byles led a rearguard action as Heidelberg held Avondale out and claimed the trophy.
Centre forward Tom Cahill was awarded the Jimmy Rooney Medal as best afield, his performance included the defence-splitting pass that played through Adrian Zahra for the opening goal in the fifth minute.
Cartanos doubled Heidelberg's advantage with a swerving long shot in the 41st.
Avondale, coached by Zoran Markovski with head coach Anthony Barbieri suspended, struggled to create chances in the first half but lifted in the second period. After one near miss midway through the second half, Germano would score from close range after knocking in Liam Boland's header across goal.
But Heidelberg did not allow Avondale to repeat the drama of the semi-final round, holding off the comeback to claim the match in regulation time.
2018 NPL Victoria Grand Final
Heidelberg United 2 (Adrian Zahra 5', Andrew Cartanos 41') defeated Avondale FC 1 (Jonatan Germano 78') at AAMI Park
Heidelberg United: 1. Chris Theodoridis-Petropoulos, 2. Josh Wilkins, 7. Reuben Way, 8. Andrew Cartanos (25. Atilla Ofli 71'), 9. Adrian Zahra, 10. Jack Petrie, 13. Luke Byles, 15. Paul O'Brien, 16. Tom Cahill, 17. Steven Pace (3. Les Doumbalis 34'), 19. Sean Ellis
Unused substitutes: 23. Christian Pavlidis, 12. Harvey Read, 18. Jacob Talevski
Coach: George Katsakis
Avondale FC: 1. Chris Oldfield, 2. Ramazan Tavsancioglu, 5. Jeff Fleming (7. Stefan Zinni 46'), 6. Anthony Strano (17. Phil Riccobene 65'), 9. Liam Boland, 11. Evan Christodoulou, 13. Yitay Towns, 14. Kaine Sheppard (10. Jonatan Germano 46'), 15. Ross Archibald, 27. Elvis Kamsoba, 33. Joseph Katebian
Unused substitutes: 44. Evan Markogiannakis, 3. James Riccobene
Coach: Zoran Markovski
Referees: Adam Bavcar (central), Ben Schepers (AR1), Luke Camilleri (AR2), Jack Morgan (4th)
Jimmy Rooney Medal: Tom Cahill (Heidelberg United)