By Nick Creely
NPL 2 EAST
REVIEW – ROUND 23
Spare a thought for Murray United, who had to travel four hours home to Lavington after being smashed by one of the in-form teams in the state, if not the country – Dandenong Thunder.
With the crowd in raptures at George Andrews Reserve on Saturday evening, the Thunder continue to breathe down Dandenong City at the top of the ladder after winning 3-1 and never looking in trouble.
There was a familiar face that greeted the Thunder on Saturday, with soccer legend Archie Thompson suiting up for United. Thompson played 224 games for Melbourne Victory in the A-League, kicking 90 goals, and also represented Australia on 54 occasions for 28 goals.
He joined Murray for the first time this season after retiring from his A-League career. His presence alone was not enough to prevent his side from a first half onslaught with Thunder scoring three times.
It was star striker Brandon Barnes who got them going early with an impressive strike that reached the back of the net, setting the tone for the rest of the night.
In what has been yet another extraordinary season from the Englishman, he has scored 27 goals from 22 starts at an average of 1.2 per game – mind blowing considering Thunder have scored 61 goals for the season as a team.
The in-form Veton Korcari then followed suit with his ninth major of the season from just 16 starts to hand them an ominous 2-0 lead before half time.
But more disaster struck before the whistle blew, with a crucial error from Murray resulting in an own goal.
With the damage done, Murray began to tighten up defensively despite Thunder looking dangerous in their attacking corner, and to credit United’s credit, they managed to hold Thunder scoreless in the final half.
They even added a consolation prize themselves, with Thompson nailing a penalty shot late in the game to add some respectability to the scoreboard.
Dandenong City, meanwhile, drew 1-1 on Sunday at Mahoneys Reserve – and holds top spot – while Springvale White Eagles lost 2-5 to Melbourne City FC at Latrobe University in Bundoora at the exact same time.
In Round 24, City faces Box Hill on Friday night, Thunder travels to take on Eastern Lions and Springvale hosts Nunawading.