Lucas double helps Bentleigh to convincing win over Thunder
By Damir Kulas (@DamirKulas)
Bentleigh Greens have recorded a convincing 3-1 victory over Dandenong Thunder at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Friday night to stretch their undefeated start to the campaign to 14 games.
A double from Chris Lucas and an early strike Tyson Holmes sealed all three points for John Anastasiadis’ men, as Yusuf Ahmed’s tenth goal of the season proved to be a mere consolation for Thunder.
The home side came into the clash without the injured Matt Thurtell; the league’s joint top scorer has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with an ACL injury.
The Greens did welcome back New Zealand international Ryan de Vries, who made his season debut after re-joining the club in the transfer window, and his inclusion produced instant reward.
The All Whites forward played a ball in only for his pass to be diverted into the path of Holmes by a Dandenong defender, before Holmes buried his effort past goalkeeper Zaim Zeneli for an early lead.
An end-to-end opening to the game saw the Bentleigh attack pile plenty of pressure on the visitors defence with goalscorer Holmes and midfield engine Liam McCormick taking aim at a besieged Zeneli without much luck.
Up the other end, Thunder almost levelled the scoring when a ball into the box from Sakhizada found the head of Veton Korcari, but the 29 year-old striker saw his header dip just over goal.
Almost immediately after, Bentleigh nearly doubled its advantage as Lucas was played through on goal but the onrushing Zeneli did well to collect the ball from his feet.
Soon after, Lucas doubled the lead after getting on the end of a slick Troy Ruthven ball with a lovely dink over the keeper into the top corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.
However Bentleigh’s joyous mood was somewhat dampened when an acrobatic Sakhizada overhead met the head of Ahmed at the back post who became the first player since Green Gully’s Daniel Jones in Round 6 to score past Alastair Bray in the Greens' goal.
The away side came agonisingly close to levelling the scores two minutes into the second half when a goal-bound Sakhizada header was cleared off the line by a Bentleigh defender as the visitors piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser.
These efforts proved to be in vain as a de Vries low cross into the box was snatched upon by the quick thinking Lucas who got his second for the night and his eighth overall to restore his side’s two goal lead.
Lucas had chances to increase the margin and cap off a fine individual game with a hat-trick but fired his shot straight at Zeneli while the shot-stopper had to be at his best to deny Dion Kirk from a free-kick.
Thunder’s woes would be compounded late on when midfielder Archie Tomic was given his marching orders for dissent as the Greens sealed their eight straight victory while Stuart Munro’s side languish in the drop zone.
The Greens will look to reclaim outright top spot on the ladder next week when they meet Pascoe Vale away in a catch-up fixture while Dandenong faces the daunting task of facing South Melbourne in two weeks’ time.
Bentleigh Greens 3 (Holmes 2', Lucas 24', 56') defeated Dandenong Thunder 1 (Ahmed 33') at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
BT: 21. Alastair Bray (GK), 4. Troy Ruthven, 5. Jack Webster, 6. Liam McCormick (22. Austin Wong 83’), 9. Chris Lucas, 10. Tyson Holmes, 11. Dion Kirk, 19. Daniel Visevic, 23. Ryan de Vries (7.Jamie de Abreu 86’), 24. Luke Pilkington, 36. Steven Topalovic (17. Ryan Love 86’)
Unused Subs: 1. Ryan Scott (GK)
Yellow Card(s): Topalovic 45, Pilkington 67, Ruthven 83
Red Card(s): None
DT: 1. Zaim Zeneli (GK), 3. Ramazan Tavsancioglu, 4. Adam Petko, 6. Archie Tomic, 7. Yusuf Ahmed, 9. Veton Korcari (22. James Goulopoulos 65’), 11. Timmy Purcell, 12. Brendan Elmazovski, 14. Brodie Paterson (8. Lewis Foster 83’), 15. Nelson Salvatore, 17. Faisal Sakhizada
Unused Subs: 16. Gideon Sweet, 20. Anthony Saric (GK), Michael Gerace
Yellow Card(s): Sakhizada 76
Red Card(s): Tomic 80