Nate Foster’s second half goal settled the result after a first half brace from Luke Sherbon, in what was on the whole an assured performance bar Bryan Bran turning the ball into his own net on the stroke of full time.
Dandenong coach Chris Taylor was happy with his side’s display, in the process keeping what he believes is a numerical and psychological edge over the rest of the VPL heading into the finals series.
“The win just keeps things ticking along. Oakleigh had a good result last night and it’s important that we keep pace, not allowing them to close the gap on us.
That puts a different sort of pressure on them. We’ve been top all year and that’s the way we want to keep it,” a confident Taylor said after the match.
“I thought they had passages in the game, but never really created anything in the second half, and when we went forward we looked quite dangerous.
“It always suits us when we’re up a goal because other teams have to come at us, and we’re good at finding space.”
Northcote started well enough, however, and could have even opened the scoring in the first ten minutes through an unmarked Dean Piemonte, after he was found with a brilliant cross from Milos Lujic, but Stuart Webster did well to come out quickly and force doubt into the diminutive attacker’s mind.
Somewhat against the run of play, the Thunder went up in rather fortunate circumstances at the 14 minute mark, after Matthew Theodore looked to have gone down a bit too easily in the box.
Luke Sherbon however, showed great confidence in bamboozling Chris Petropoulos with a Panenka, before adding another eight minutes later after a superb finish, making it 15 goals for the season so far, with six from the spot.
In the second half, Dandenong created a number of chances and had Petropoulos to thank for staying marginally in it, but Nate Foster put the game to bed in the 76th minute, delightfully chipping the Northcote keeper with his first touch to cap off a very good game personally, and as a collective.
The only blight on Dandenong’s game was Bryan Bran’s unfortunate own goal in the last minute of regular time, deflecting the ball in from Alex Rojas’ free kick from just outside the box.
“We did start off quite well. We wanted to come out pressing from the start which was good, but in our minds, we were a bit unlucky with the penalty and it seemed to change the game after that,” Northcote assistant Chris Cappioni said, after Goran Lozanovski declined to comment.
“He looked to have gone down, and I thought it was a little bit soft. Maybe later on in the game, but in the first 10-15 minutes, from our angle I thought it was a bit hard. Dandenong are flying, and when you’re flying, things happen to go your way as well.
After what looked to have been a confidence-boosting win last week over the Melbourne Knights, their display after the penalty lacked any sort of grit and determination.
“The guys were still demoralised after half-time, going 2-0 down like that, and we were a little bit static in the second half, but as the game wore on we were able to show a bit, so hopefully they can bounce back from this.”
Northcote have a good opportunity to do exactly that when they host Moreland at John Cain Memorial Reserve next Saturday, while on Friday night, the league-leaders travel to face Bentleigh at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex.
Dandenong Thunder 3-1 Northcote City
Dandenong Thunder line-up: 1. Stuart WEBSTER, 3. Andrew MULLETT, 5. Bryan BRAN, 13. Shane REXHEPI, 14. Craig ELVIN, 6. Ross THOMPSON (12. Shpetim MALA 56’), 7. Liam KEARNEY, 8. Matthew THEODORE, 11. Iqbal JAWADI, 19. Nathaniel FOSTER BOWEN (9. Veton KORCARI 84’), 20. Luke Flynn SHERBON
Goals: Sherbon 14’, 22’, Bowen 76
Northcote City line-up: 22. Chris PETROPOULOS, 16. Paul SAVIO, 18. Antoni JANKOVSKI (3. Kristian KONSTANTINIDIS 75’), 6. Bonel OBRADOVIC (11. Jonathan VOULGARIS 58’), 10. Alex ROJAS, 7. Dean PIEMONTE (14. Michael CATALANO 72’), 2. Adrian CHIAPPETTA, 9. Milos LUJIC, 8. James KALIFATIDIS, 12. Hayden D'AGOSTINO, 5. Bradley TRELOAR
Goals: Bran (OG) 90’
Yellow Cards: Savio 32’, Jankovski 63’
Written by Ante Jukic (FFV Website)