South Melbourne weathers Dandenong Thunder storm

By Rory Flanagan (@rory_flanagan)

South Melbourne temporarily went top of the table after surviving Dandenong Thunder's onslaught at George Andrews Reserve on Saturday night.

Depsite a 25-point gap between the two sides, it was Thunder who dominated the game.

It was an all-too-familiar story for the hosts who were beaten in similar fashion by the same scoreline in August last year. 

Iqi Jawadi's thunderbolt on the stroke of half time proved to be just enough for South, though goalkeeper Fraser McLaren bailed his side out on more than one occasion.
 
After a brilliant late comeback to defeat old foes Melbourne Knights the week prior, the visitors seemed drained and flat, whilst Dandy had all the fire and determination you'd expect from a side in a relegation battle. 
 
Amongst a solid back four, Faisal Sakhizada was a man mountain for Dandy, winning everything that came his way whilst moving ball forward accurately to keep Thunder on the front foot. 
 
Teen sensation Yusuf Ahmed was up to his usual eye-catching antics, completely burning one of the league's best left backs in Brad Norton with an outrageous first-time flick but Elmazovski was unable to make the most of his teammate's skill. 
 
Ahmed again had the speed to get in behind the defence in the 20th minute, but Fraser McLaren made a textbook one-on-one save to deny the winger his 10th goal of the season. 
 
All of Thunder's progress in the first half was cruelly made irrelevant by Jawadi's cracker against his former club. The midfielder made it number four for the season by skipping past a defender and blasting an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 20 yards. 
 
When play resumed after half time, Yusuf raced through on goal just 60 seconds in, but again McLaren stood firm to keep out the 18 year old's effort. 
 
The former Victory Youth keeper was in sublime form, recovering well to keep out Brodie Paterson's audacious lob from halfway on the hour mark. 
 
After a wonderful bicycle kick assist against Bentleigh Greens, Sakhizada nearly repeated the trick by acrobatically keeping knocking the ball to Paterson who disappointingly shot wide. 
 
Timmy Purcell's robot-like performance was capped off with a wonderful chase to win back possession, before launching a counter which saw penalty claims waved away. 
 
Thunder threw the kitchen sink and more in the final ten minutes, but it just wasn't their night as Eagar and Adams somehow managed to get blocks on efforts from Goulopoulos and Ahmed out of nowhere. 
 
Next Saturday Dandenong travels to Green Gully in a relegation six-pointer, and South entertain Werribee on Sunday, with a midweek FFA Cup fixture against Frankston Pines. 
 
Match details
 
Dandenong Thunder 0 defeated by South Melbourne 1 (Jawadi 44') at George Edwards Reserve, Dandenong
 
Dandenong Thunder: Zaim Zeneli, Jarryd Barnes, Adam Petko, Rama Tavsancioglu, Faisal Safa, Brendan Elmazovski (C), Timmy Purcell, Brodie Paterson (Feston Azizi 77'), Nelson Salvatore, Veton Korcari (James Goulopoulos 72'), Yusuf Ahmed
 
Unused subs: Anthony Saric, Fitim Ibraimi, Abdirahman Ahmed 
 
Yellow cards: Elmazovski 41'
 
South Melbourne: Fraser McLaren, Tim Mala (Tom Lakic 77'), Michael Eagar, Luke Adams, Brad Norton, Iqi Jawadi, Andy Bevin (Chris Irwin 56'), Nick Epifano, Mathew Theodore, Milos Lujic, Leigh Minopoulos (Jake Barker-Daish 68')
 
Unused subs: Nick Morton, Andy Kecojevic
 
Yellow cards: Epifano 86' Eagar 90+1'



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