Image: Smile for Peter
Bentleigh Greens and Heidelberg United will face off in the 2017 Dockerty Cup final after both sealed progression from their semi-finals this week.
The Greens got the job done 2-0 last night against South Melbourne, while the Bergers had an even easier time against Hume City in a 5-0 demolition.
For Heidelberg it’s a first cup final since 1993, while Bentleigh will be looking to secure a Victorian cup double – a feat that hasn’t been achieved in the state for decades.
An expectedly cagey opening first half presented itself at Jack Edwards Reserve as neither the Greens nor South could find an opening in the early exchanges.
Due to his NPL sending off against Pascoe Vale, John Anastasiadis wasn’t on the sidelines as John Ioannou and Ljuban Palinic were some of the touchline figures coaching the side.
South have struggled to claim wins against Bentleigh in recent times. The 2015 grand final along with high-profile FFA Cup encounters, plus Community Shield matches have ended in often fiery defeats, and with two days less break on their opponents following league action, this task wasn’t going to be made any easier for Chris Taylor’s side.
Lambros Honos and Ben Litfin had early opportunities for the Greens but it was South that finished the half strong and had two of the best opportunities to take the lead.
The first came via mid-season addition David Barca Moreno, with the Spaniard given too much time on the edge of the area to shoot but Ryan Scott was up to the task of saving the low drive.
The keeper made a much more impressive save moments later to deny what would have been a slick team goal as good combinations on the right involving the likes of Matt Foschini and Matt Millar ended in Leigh Minopoulos – still in for the injured Milos Lujic – shooting through traffic only to be denied by Scott’s fingertips.
Hellas’ momentum couldn’t be built on in the second half as Bentleigh shook off their indifferent form to take the lead. A classy through ball from Honos sliced open South’s defence with Matt Thurtell running through to apply the finish.
With time running out and South struggling to generate many solid opportunities to net the equaliser, Tyson Holmes struck against his old club – a goal that came all too easily as he was allowed too much space and time to run through the middle and shoot twice.
That sealed the 2-0 win and Bentleigh’s second consecutive appearance in the cup final, in the process ending South’s 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions as their attentions turn to preserving their NPL lead and FFA Cup campaign.
At JL Murphy Reserve on Wednesday, Heidelberg were able to arrest their own mini form slump, ending two straight league defeats with an emphatic win over Hume City, who were coming off a solid win against Kingston but were without midfield fulcrum James McGarry.
The Bergers were in fine touch from the early stages as the opener came in the first half when Michael Trigger got to Reuben Way’s low cross to beat Michael Weier in goals.
Chris Theodoridis denied Nick Hegarty from netting an equaliser and after that it was Kosta Kanakaris’ turn to get on the scoresheet for the Bergers from Steven Pace’s pass after a corner situation, with the side taking the 2-0 lead into the break.
It was a welcome return for veteran Pace after the Bergers struggled defensively in his absence in recent weeks.
The contest was all but over after the restart as an emphatic curling Kenny Athiu finish into the top corner made it 3-0, before Kanakaris secured his double from Trigger’s good build-up work.
The five-star win was polished off before the final whistle when Kanakaris’ cross was nodded in by Harry Noon – also a pleasing sight for Heidelberg after the midfielder had struggled with injuries in recent times as well.
Heidelberg will want to emulate their most recent league victory against Bentleigh in the cup final, but Anastasiadis’ side have proven to rise to the occasion despite any dips in league form, with the final to be played on July 5 – time and venue TBC.