The home side made one change to it's line up from it's last league game against the Oakleigh Cannons with centre back Craig Elvin ruled out through injury, with Tim Mala coming in to replace Elvin & make his first start for the club.
Despite questionable officiating throughout the day, Thunder took home all three points against a bewildered Gully outfit that had Mile Medjedovic sent off late in the first half.
The chilly afternoon started brightly for Dandenong, with winger Liam Kearney almost catching keeper Nikola Roganovic off his line.
The cross-turned shot in the 3rd minute however, was dealt with easily by the ex-Melbourne Heart shot stopper.
Just eight minutes later, Dandenong threatened again, this time towering centre-back Bryan Bran heading just wide from a Ross Thompson free kick.
Green Gully were starved of chances thanks to a stubborn Thunder defence, but when in possession it was Jason Hayne causing the most problems.
Gully’s first chance came on the 14th minute mark, when the ball fell to Brent Fisher outside the box; however the forwards shot was just inches over the crossbar.
Dandenong star Nate Foster had so far been nullified by Gully defenders Mile Medjedovic and Rodrigo Vargas, but as many VPL sides have learned this season, it doesn’t take much for the Canadian to turn a match on its head.
In the 42nd minute Foster broke free from the defence, and strode into the box preparing to shoot before being brought down by Medjedovic.
The penalty was subsequently awarded, but Medjedovic’s ensuing red card seemed innocuous, and came to the dismay of Gully coach Ian Dobson.
After the protests from the Gully players and officials, it was Luke Sherbon stepped up to the spot and calmly slotted the ball past Roganovic to give his side a 1-0 lead going into the break.
The second half started in similar vein to the first, with Thunder dominating most of possession, and it was not long before the pressure boiled over.
In the 49th minute Dandenong went two ahead, after Nate Foster pinched the ball of his opponent and ran into the box, before teeing up Kearney to finish past a helpless Roganovic.
The sending off had clearly been telling on the Gully defence, and just six minutes later Thunder were able to score again.
Yet again Foster was the architect, as he took advantage of a mix up between Vargas and Scott Robson in the box and in similar fashion to the second goal, teed up substitute Sean McIlroy to score the third and put the result beyond doubt.
The midfield three of Dandenong were superb throughout, with Ross Thompson, Iqi Jawadi, and Matthew Theodore all contributing heavily towards the win.
After the game, Dandenong coach Chris Taylor was happy with the result, praising his makeshift defence.
“It was a great result, especially against Green Gully, a 3-0 result is good. The fact Craig Elvin dropped out just before the kick-off, and we had to re-shuffle the backline, I was happy to get the clean sheet.”
His counterpart Ian Dobson didn’t hold back when discussing the referee’s performance.
“The referee I thought was very poor today, but that’s not the excuse, we gave them three goals, two very bad mistakes in the second half, and you can’t do that at this level.”
The win sees Dandenong remain in first position, with 8 wins from 10 matches.
Green Gully are in sixth after going three consecutive matches without a win.
DANDENONG THUNDER: 1. Stuart WEBSTER, 3. Andrew MULLET, 5. Bryan BRAN, 13. Shane REXHEPI, 12. Tim MALA, 6. Ross THOMPSON, 7. Liam KEARNEY, 8. Matthew THEODORE, 11. Iqbal JAWADI, 19. Nate FOSTER, 20. Luke SHERBON.
SUBS: 21. Zaim ZENELI, 9. Veton KORCARI, 22. Sean MCILROY, 17. Hamlet ARMENIAN, 2. Enes SIVIC
GOALS: Sherbon (42’p), Kearney (49’), McIlroy (55’)
GREEN GULLY: 23. Nikola ROGANOVIC, 3. Ante CICAK, 5. Rodrigo VARGAS, 6. Stephen DOWNES, 8. Jason HAYNE, 9. Brent FISHER, 11. Scott ROBSON, 12. Matthew SANDERS, 16. Mile MEDJEDOVIC, 18. Joel NIKOLIC, 19. Jonathon MUNOZ
SUBS: 1. Michael O'FARREL, 2. Daniel JONES, 17. Andy VARGAS, 20. Osagie EDERERO, 22. Muhamed CHAWK
RED CARDS: Medjedovic (42’)
Written by Yessar Daou (FFV Website)
Image courtesy of John Punshon (Goal Weekly)