Thunder thump Heidelberg to advance to final
Dandenong Thunder 3-0 Heidelberg United
The Dandenong Thunder have thumped Heidelberg United 3-0 at SS Anderson Reserve in the FFV State Knockout Cup Semi-final to advance to the final.
Dandenong got off to a flyer as the Victorian Premier League (VPL) leaders scored twice inside the opening four minutes.
Despite the ‘Bergers getting more of the ball they rarely threatened a Dandenong defence who took off Craig Elvin in the first-half.
Dandenong finished off the scoring with Shpetim Mala extending the lead with a fantastic effort on 21 minutes.
The second-half was flooded with substitutions with up to five being utilized which broke up the rhythm, United looking to youngsters to provide a spark.
Heidelberg did improve during the second period, but they didn’t have much to offer and were susceptible at the back all evening.
Dandenong could have added to the scoreboard but despite not scoring for the final seventy minutes they comfortably held their lead as the ‘Bergers struggled to muster any real chances.
Leading VPL goalscorer Luke Sherbon found the opener with a nice curling finish past Heidelberg keeper Chris May before Bryan Bran found the top corner from a rebound shortly later.
Thunder hit the net for the third time as the ball fell for Mala on the edge of the box which the wide man rifled straight into the top corner.
Despite a three goal lead Dandenong continued to play their quick tempo game with Sean McIlroy and Liam Kearney going close in search for a fourth.
Chris Taylor had his side well drilled and went close on the break through Matthew Theodore, but the former Melbourne Victory youngster struck the post.
Heidleberg didn’t have much to show to the decent crowd in the second-half even with the efforts of Zane Sole and John Lazaridis.
Dandenong Thunder boss Chris Taylor thought the early goal gave his side the confidence to push on with the game.
“It’s been the same right through the season; if we get an early goal it builds our confidence and we moved the ball around well so it was perfect stuff from us tonight,” Taylor said.
Heidelberg United Coach George Katsakis praised the efforts of Sole and Lazaridis.
“Zane Sole is terrific; his work ethic is unbelievable, he is a battler and he just keeps fighting,” said Katsakis.
“I thought he and Johnny Lazaridis were outstanding for us, they probably held the fort together.”
Both sides return to league action on the weekend with Dandenong hosting second-placed Oakleigh on Saturday, while on Friday Heidelberg travel to Bentleigh.
DANDENONG THUNDER XI: 21. Zaim ZENELI, 3. Andrew MULLET, 5. Bryan BRAN (10. Feston AZIZI 67’), 7. Liam KEARNEY (19. Nate FOSTER 49’), 8. Matthew THEODORE (2. Enes SIVIC), 11. Iqbal JAWADI, 12. Shpetim MALA, 13. Shane REXHEPI, 14. Craig ELVIN (6. Ross THOMPSON 33’), 20. Luke SHERBON (4. Brendan ELMAZOVSKI 67’), 22. SEAN MCILROY
GOALS: Sherbon (2’), Bran (3’), Mala (21’)
YELLOW CARDS: Nil
HEIDELBERG UNITED XI: 1. Chris MAY, 2. Arthur PAPADOPOLOUS, 4. John LAZARIDIS, 5. James RICCOBENE (13. James MOTSIANOS 56’), 6. John BOUNAS (12. Nick ARGYRAKAKIS 80’), 8. Zane SOLE, 9. Kristian SARKIES (14. Pave DURKIC 85’), 10. Abboud DIB, 17. Daniel PETKOVSKI (19. Abdul ABDIRAHMAN 28’), 18. Nassim COURAIL, 20. Saso ALEXOVSKI
UNUSED SUBS: 32. Dallas COLELOUGH
YELLOW CARDS: Alexovski (5’)