Heidelberg United are the Champions of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues for the first time following a commanding performance in the title decider in Brisbane.
Heidelberg dominated large portions of the game and eventually ran out 2-0 winners over Brisbane Strikers courtesy of a goal in each half – Adrian Zahra and Sean Ellis finding the back of the net.
The win marks the first national title for the club since their 1996 National Soccer League Cup triumph under the name Collingwood Warriors, and their first under the Heidelberg name since 1993 in the same competition.
The win caps off a stunning season that saw the Melbourne-based outfit shine in the Westfield FFA Cup and claim the PS4 NPL Victoria Premiers crown.
Overcoming the typical Queensland humidity, the visitors showed the most promising attacking signs early as Lewis Hall delivered two attempts in the opening quarter hour.
The first clear cut opportunity fell for former Hyundai A-League player Zahra on 18 minutes, forcing Strikers keeper Zac Speedy into a full-stretch low tip around the post.
Seeing off the storm, Striker enjoyed their best period of the clash midway through the half, culminating with an angled strike across the face of goal from Jeremy Stewart.
However, Heidelberg capitalised on the miss shortly after as Zahra converted the opener – benefitting from a deflection and converting into an open goal after the onrushing Speedy blocked and initial attempt from former Striker Alexander Schiavo.
The visitors nearly doubled their lead before the break as Jack Petrie’s goal-bound free-kick was denied by another full stretch Speedy tip.
A brief Strikers surge early in the second half produced promising half-chances for the hosts, however, they failed to find the final ball into the box.
Soon after Ellis effectively put paid to their hopes of a comeback on the hour – his pressure on Speedy resulting in a fumble from young Strikers gloveman, with Ellis reacting sharply to steer the ball into the open net.
A pair of quick chances for Strikers for Ryan Palmer and Jake McLean failed to trouble Heidelberg keeper Christopher Theodoris-Petropoulos, summing up Strikers’ evening.
The Brisbane club ultimately was unable to muster the late drama that has typified end-of-season deciders in the Hyundai A-League hosted in the Queensland capital.
Ellis’ high work rate and goal saw the Scottish wide attacker win the John Kosmina Medal as the stand-out player of the decider.
Ellis said, “It feels amazing. I worked hard and how could I complain?”
“We pressed them high and didn’t let them pass the ball about but getting the goal was a bit of a lucky break coming into half time.”
Talking about his goal, Ellis conceded, “I don’t really know what happened. The ball came over, it hit me in the head, maybe he fumbled it and I just put it in the net.”
PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Grand Final 2017
Saturday, September 30
Perry Park, Brisbane
Brisbane Strikers FC - 0
Heidelberg United FC – 2 (Adrian ZAHRA 42’, Sean ELLIS 61’)
Official attendance: 1,105
Brisbane Strikers FC: 1. Zac Speedy, 4. Jake Marshall, 5. Greig Henslee, 6. Ethan Docherty, 7. Michael Lee, 8. Michael Angus, 10. Jake McLean, 11. Jeremy Stewart (19. Luke Marsh 76’), 13. Sam Knight, 17. Hiroki Omori, 18. Ryan Palmer (3. Braedon Steel 68’)
Unused: 2. Fraser Eller, 14. Joel Anich, 20. Mitchell Thorn
Yellow cards: Henslee 73’
Heidelberg United FC: 1. Christopher Theodoridis-Petropoulos, 2. Joshua Wilkins, 4. Jordan Wilkes, 6. Lewis Hall, 7. Reuben Way, 9. Adrian Zahra, 10. Jack Petrie, 12. Ken Athiu (21. Michael Trigger 72’), 13. Luke Byles, 19. Sean Ellis (17. Steven Pace 82’), 40. Alexander Schiavo (8. Andrew Cartanos 61’)
Unused: 3. Leslie Doumbalis, 23. Christian Pavlidis
Yellow cards: Way 20’ Hall 84’, Wilkins 90’, Cartanos 90+2’
Match officials: Adrian Arndt (referee), Joey Lee (assistant 1), James Sherry (assistant 2), Lara Lee (fourth official)
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