Terrific trio of minutes telling in City’s climb up the table

Jack Webster nailed a header for Dandenong City in his side's 3-2 win over Green Gully. Picture: DANDENONG CITY

By Marcus Uhe

Two goals in a wicked three-minute period during the second half helped Dandenong City to a ninth win of the 2024 season, downing Green Gully 3-2 at Green Gully Reserve on Saturday afternoon in the National Premier League Victoria competition (NPL).

Goals to veteran pair Jack Webster and Danny Kim gave City a 3-1 advantage midway through the second 45 minutes, enough to hold the home side at bay despite a late second goal.

George Lambadaridis helped City to silence the Gully home fans by opening the scoring in the 12th minute.

After Gully was penalised for a handball in the area on a Tim Atherinos volley, Kenny Athiu stepped forward to take the all-important spot kick.

His shot hit the left upright, but Lambadaridis was quick to react in the scramble to regain possession and found the back of the net.

John Hall produced one of the saves of the season to prevent Gully leveling the contest at 1-1, with a diving effort on a brilliant free kick attempt in the 18th minute preserving the visitors’ advantage.

City’s harassing forward pressure was on full display in the opening half, making the decision to play out from the back a brave one for Green Gully on a number of occasions.

They were almost made to pay at the half-hour mark, when the tenacity resulted in Lambadaridis feeding a ground ball into the heart of the penalty area, but the ball was just out reach of a darting Will Bower.

Athiu then missed a free header at the back post to double the advantage minutes later, as the visitors experienced a wasteful period of possession.

1-0 in City’s favour was the scoreline at the half, prompting the home side to emerge from the break with a renewed vigor and enthusiasm for the second half.

A handful of early chances brought Hall into the game, but nothing that caused the experienced stopper and major concerns.

That was until the 56th minute, however, when his goal net rippled vociferously after he was beaten at the back post.

A pair of City defenders in front of him caused no hesitation for Gianluca Iannucci, who curled the ball over Hall’s outstretched arms to level proceedings, celebrating with a cartwheel and backflip.

The celebrations were short lived for the home side, however, as the City entered the decisive period of the match.

Kim restored City’s lead shortly after the equaliser, as Valli Cesnik made an instant impact in his early minutes, following his activation into the game.

Cesnik worked a ‘one-two’ with Athiu on the right wing, drawing three Gully defenders, before cutting the ball back to a trialing Kim, who scored with a simple finish in the 65th minute.

Captain, Webster made it 3-1 just two minutes later, left alone at the near post following a corner to head home an important goal.

It was a comfortable advantage for City, but the buffer did remain at two goals for much longer, as Gully hit back, courtesy of a Jamie Latham tap-in in the 73rd minute.

Green Gully, who had their hearts broken by Dandenong Thunder goalkeeper Pierce Clark’s remarkable equaliser last week, pressed until the very end of the contest fully aware of the value in doing so following last week’s disaster, but their efforts proved to be insufficient, as City finished with the three points, climbing into the top six as a result.

Kim will miss next week’s important clash with fourth-placed Hume City on Friday night, after earning a fifth yellow card of the season.