Sole goal separates Thunder, Port, as hosts end losing streak
By Damir Kulas (@DamirKulas)
A 17 year-old forward in Yusuf Ahmed proved to be the hero for Dandenong Thunder as the home side ran out 1-0 winners over Port Melbourne Sharks at George Andrews Reserve on Saturday night.
The teenager’s 31st minute strike was enough to lift Stuart Munro’s men off the bottom of the ladder in what was their second win of the season, condemning the Sharks to a second straight defeat in the space of four days.
A cagey opening saw both sides struggle to create any meaningful goal-scoring opportunities until Trent Rixon’s ball into the box found the onrushing Kamal Ibrahim, who could not direct his shot on target.
Rixon was next to try his luck as he broke through on the left but had his goal-bound shot deflected out for a corner by the Thunder defence.
The host’s main attacking threat was the lively Ahmed who looked to his pace to expose the Sharks on the counter.
And he nearly did, before his tame shot fell safely into the arms of Stjepan Gal.
However that would prove to be a taste of things to come as captain Alan Mulcahy played the youngster in on goal, as he expertly placed the ball past Gal and into the back of the net to give his side the lead against the run of play.
Veteran defender Ramazan Tavsancioglu, who was employed in a holding midfield position for the night, almost made it 2-0 before the break as he intercepted the ball before firing his shot just wide of the post.
The second half began in a similar fashion to the first as both sides failed to test either keeper early on before a challenge from Rixon on Thunder captain Veton Korcari saw a flashpoint in the middle of the park between both sets of players.
Tavsancioglu again went close as he intercepted Gal’s pass to Alan Kearney and attempted to lob the keeper from 20 metres, but his attempt hit the top of the goal net.
Port’s Ryan Oppermann and Andrew Milicevic both blazed over after being presented with openings on goal as the visitors went in search of an equaliser.
Kamal Ibrahim’s long range effort sailed just wide of the post before the in-form winger set up substitute Nicholas Krousoratis with an inch-perfect cross, only for the latter to fail in directing his header towards goal.
The same two players would again come close in the latter stages of the contest as Ibrahim’s free-kick hit the side-netting before the former Melbourne Heart winger had another chance, cuting the ball back for Krousoratis who fired wide.
As Eric Vassiliadis’s men went in search of an equaliser, they left themselves open at the back. Thunder substitute Jarryd Barnes took full advantage, but skewed his shot over the bar after running at the Sharks defence.
As hard as Port tried to level the scores, the hosts proved to be staunch and solid in defence holding onto a 1-0 victory and ending a barren run of five straight defeats.
Dandenong Thunder 1 (Y.Ahmed 31) defeated Port Melbourne Sharks 0 at George Andrews Res.
DT: 1. Zaim Zeneli (GK), 3. Ramazan Tavsancioglu, 4. Adam Petko, 5. Faisal Sakhizada, 6. Alan Mulcahy, 7. Yusuf Ahmed (2. Jarryd Barnes 73’), 9. Veton Korcari (19. Abdirahman Ahmed 89’), 12. Brendan Elmazovski, 16. Gideon Sweet, 17. Fitim Ibraimi (18. Ariel Ritz 63’), 23. Michael Gerace
Unused subs: 8. Lewis Foster, 20. Chris England
Yellow Card(s): Korcari 27, Elmazovski 87
Red Card(s): None
PMS: 1. Stjepan Gal (GK), 2. Andrew Viola, 3 James Riccobene (Nick Tzoulis), 6. Chirs Grossman, 9. Trent Rixon (Brent Fisher), 10. Andrew Milicevic, 14. Kamal Ibrahim, 16. Alan Kearney, 19. Shaun Kelly, 20. Julius Davies (Nicholas Krousoratis), 22. Ryan Oppermann
Unused Subs: 23. Conor Reddan, 25. Michael Stark (GK)
Yellow Card(s): None
Red Card(s): None