Avondale cruises to win over Thunder
By Billy Green
Avondale Heights has defeated bottom-of-the-ladder Dandenong Thunder in difficult and slippery conditions at George Andrews Reserve.
With both teams struggling to maintain possession for extended periods, it was the simplified forward structuring of Avondale which overran the stunted press of Dandenong.
On 7 minutes, Avondale’s Francesco Stella was rewarded with a penalty after an illegal tackle from the Dandenong defence.
He slotted it into the bottom right corner and gave the visitors an early one-goal lead.
In an evenly-matched contest, the hosts had opportunities of their own soon after.
At the 13-minute mark, a poor pass in the Avondale defence left goalkeeper Christopher Mayward scrambling to control the ball as Dandenong striker Veton Korcari closed in on it.
A cross from Fitim Ibraimi reached Feston Azizi outside the area, but his strike on goal sailed well over the crossbar.
Avondale looked to take a two-goal lead on 24 minutes when Mathew Sanders beat Dandenong 'keeper Zaim Zeneli wide of the goals.
Turning the ball in towards the empty goals, it was beaten off the line by a desperate sliding save from defender Adam Petko.
Neither team maintained long periods of possession in the fast-paced, end-to-end plays.
Dandenong’s Brody Paterson imposed himself on the match late in the half, first striking from outside the box and forcing Mayward to push the ball over the nets.
Moments after he placed a corner into Korcari, but marginally missed the opportunity for a header.
Late in the half, the home crowd erupted after a free kick was awarded to Stella, and resistance from Korcari left him with a yellow card.
Rain began hailing down as the second half began, making it even more difficult for the teams to hold onto clean possession in the slippery conditions.
This looked to suit the visitors more, creating opportunities through fast breaks and long balls out of defence.
On 58 minutes, Alex Khrapko received a cross on the edge of the box and finished well to push the deficit out to two goals.
Soon after, a frustrated Ibraimi laid a rough tackle on an Avondale defender and was sent back to the locker rooms after receiving his second yellow card.
With the hosts playing a man down, Avondale began to dominate the latter moments of the match.
Zeneli played a brilliant match, preventing what could have been a much uglier scorecard for the hosts.
Both Mathew Sanders and Jason Principato had shots on goal, and both were saved well by Zeneli.
On 78 minutes, Zeneli again prevented a second Khrapko goal, and followed it up with another great save from the resulting corner.
Avondale striker Jeffrey Fleming began to impose himself late in the match, missing one strike wide at the 87-minute mark.
In injury time, Fleming met a corner on the far post and slotted it in off his head to close out the match with a strong 3-0 win.
Next week, Avondale faces a must-win match against Werribee City FC, while Dandenong plays Northcote City FC for the chance to pick themselves up from the bottom of the NPL ladder.
Dandenong Thunder SC 0 lost to Avondale Heights FC 3 (Stella 7’, Khrapko 58’, Fleming 90’) at George Andrews Reserve
Dandenong Thunder SC: 21. Zaim ZENELI, 24. Victor MUJEDINOVSKI (8. Lewis FOSTER 90+3’), 3. Ramazan TAVSANCIOGLU, 5. Faisal SAKHIZADA, 4. ADam PETKO, 17. Fitim IBRAIMI, 11. Timmy PURCELL, 12. Brendan ELMAZOVSKI, 27. Brodie PATERSON (18. Jarod BLACKBOURN 68’), 9. Veton KORCARI, 10. Feston AZIZI (23. Michael GERACE 68’)
Unused sub(s): 2. Jarryd BARNES, 20. Anthony SARIC
Yellow card(s): Korcari 40’, Ibraimi 57’
Red card(s): Ibraimi 62’
Avondale Heights FC: 1. Christopher MAYNARD, 5. Jeffrey FLEMING, 6. Anthony STRANO, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Alex KHRAPKO (10. Burakhan KOCA 87’), 11. Francesco STELLA (23. Daniel SLOVACEK 83’), 13. Michele CRAZIA, 28. Anthony FALLONE, 16. Mathew SANDERS (4. Jacob COLOSIMO 82’), 17. Phillip RICCOBENE, 19. Jason PRINCIPATO
Unused Sub(s): 5. Zoran PAJIC, 20. Frazer SIDDAL
Yellow Card(s): Nil
Red Card(s): Nil