Dandenong Thunder resolutely remained undefeated with a 2-0 victory over the Melbourne Knights on Saturday afternoon at George Andrews Reserve.
Luke Sherbon’s double gave Thunder allowed to stay on top of the Victorian Premier League ladder with three wins in as many games, but they did not do it as easy as the first two matches with both goals coming from the penalty spot in a closely fought contest.
After a tough encounter, Thunder and former Knights’ coach Chris Taylor was glad with the result and the clean sheet.
“We didn’t play well at all, but to get three points when you’re not…full credit to the Knights because I thought they were competitive, but in the end we grounded it out and defended quite well.”
The Thunder were lucky not to go down in the 5th minute of play, with Knights’ attacker Louis Fenton hitting the crossbar with his header in the first shot on goal for the match.
The assertive visitors were in good touch early, but a now characteristic defensive lapse was punished on the next possession, and immediately changed the complexion of the game.
The Knights had four opportunities to clear Shane Rexhepi’s free-kick in the 8th minute, but the ball eventually fell to Nate Foster, who was upended by a lunging Aaron Romein.
Luke Sherbon duly converted the penalty, sending Romein the wrong way to put the ball in the bottom right hand corner and the home side a goal to the good.
The goal was telling, because the patchy pitch at George Andrews was not conducive to free-flowing football and thus provided little in quality chances.
The Thunder were quick and robust going forward, with Matthew Theodore and Afghani recruit Iqbal Jawadi dictating a swift pace in the midfield on and off the ball.
The Knights were more measured in their approach, but were stifled by the Thunder’s pressure as well as their own carelessness with the ball.
Despite losing key holding midfielder David Kustura early with an injury, the Knights held possession for the majority of the match but continually let themselves down in the final third.
Along with the penalties, the Thunder only really had a handful of openings throughout the course of the match.
Aaron Romein did his best to make amends for the penalty and keep the Knights in the match with some fine goalkeeping, producing a double save to deny Foster in the first half and coming up with a finger-tip stop to keep Rexhepi’s top corner bound free-kick out in the 54th minute.
Good chances fell to the Knights in a more open second half through Jacob Colosimo and Jake Nakic, who hit the frame of the goal with his blistering effort, but the visitors were again made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal.
The Knights’ custodian was nevertheless the cause of the second penalty in the dying stages, bringing down Sherbon, who again sent him the wrong way and settled the result.
Knights’ coach Paul Magdic was less than impressed with his side despite the tightness of the match.
“At the end of the day, to play this poorly after getting a win last week isn’t going to do us any favours,” he said.
“We had a few chances late and the pitch wasn’t the best, but our distribution and finishing was really poor. You can’t expect to score like that, so Dandenong fully deserved the victory.”
Round Four will see the Knights host Northcote at Somers Street this Sunday at 3pm.