Following their great escape against the Moreland Zebras, Melbourne City will travel to Dandenong this week for a top of the table clash against the high-flying Thunder in round 14 of the PS4 NPL2 Season.
Last week’s draw with the Zebras saw City central defender Jordan Hall, who had been named in the NPL2 East April team of the month two days prior, undergo his very own redemption arc over the course of the 90 minutes.
For it was Hall that got on the end of a magnificent Ali Eyigun free kick, first with his head and then on the follow up off the post with his right foot, to equalise for City in the 93rd minute and salvage a draw for his side. This moment of triumph however, only coming after the standout defender had inadvertently put his side down one goal to nil after he turned the ball into his own net attempting to clear a Zebras cross in the 23rd minute.
The draw saw City slip to third on the NPL2 Eastern Conference table, however Hall’s last minute equalizer ensures that City sit only two points behind the league leading Dandenong City and Thunder sides, who both won their round 13 games.
To be only two points behind the league leaders is a commendable feat for City, who have taken four points from back to back clashes against the second placed sides in the hyper competitive NPL2 Western Conference.
A win against the Thunder would guarantee that City would sit no lower than second on the NPL2 East table coming out of the round.
The Thunder come into the game on a five-game winning streak and undefeated since their round two defeat to the Springvale White Eagles (A game which also saw the White Eagles and Thunder both deducted competition points for crowd trouble).
The Thunder’s round 13 game saw them defeat Western Conference foes Ballarat City 4-0.
Held scoreless for an hour, the Thunder eventually broke through with a strike from former A League star Kristian Sarkies in the 63rd minute before talismanic Thunder striker Brandon Barnes broke through for a hattrick with goals in the 75th, 89th and 91st minutes.
Sarkies, a former A League champion with the Melbourne Victory, and Barnes, scorer of 19 goals so far this season and holder of the record for most goals scored in a single NPL game with 8 against Nunawading City in 2016, are just two of a number of big name players for the high flying Thunder.
The Thunder can also call upon the likes of former Italian lower leagues player Nick Modaffari, former Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Knights star Rodrigo Vargas and - a name that will be very familiar to any City fan – defender Simon Colosimo, who racked up 63 appearances for the then Melbourne Heart as well as 26 appearances for the Socceroos.
Led by first year head coach Gianfranco Impellizzeri, the Thunder have scored 33 goals so far during the season – leading the NPL2 East – whilst conceding 19 on the back end.
Melbourne City and the Thunder will meet at 6pm at George Andrews Reserve in Dandenong South, with both sides U20 sides meeting beforehand for a 4pm kick-off.
NPL Victoria - Round 14
Dandenong Thunder SC vs Melbourne City
Saturday 13 May
George Andrews Reserve, Dandenong South
Seniors: 6.00pm Under 20’s: 4.00pm
Entry at gate prices