Andy O’Dell couldn’t turn the Bentleigh Greens’ poor form around in his first game in charge of the club, as Jamie Reed inspired Dandenong Thunder to a 2-0 win at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex last night.
A win would have given the Greens some breathing space on the table, but with five matches to go and fixtures against Heidelberg, HumeCity and Richmond, Bentleigh needs to improve quickly if they are to avoid a relegation scrap with the bottom sides.
Dandenong’s star import Reed continues to be one of the stories of the season since his loan switch from Welsh side Bangor City, scoring both goals early in the first half to deliver the Thunder their fifth league win in a row.
It was clear Andy O’Dell would be adopting a cautious approach, choosing to employ Damir Lokvancic as a lone striker and leaving Johnny Sapazovski on the bench.
However, things did not go to plan for the home side.
It took just five minutes for Reed to get on the score sheet. Scott Bulloch’s long-range shot was well saved by Damir Salcin who dived low to his left, but the Bentleigh keeper could do nothing to prevent Reed from pouncing on the rebound and tapping in from the edge of the six-yard box.
Some dreadful marking from the Greens cost them a second goal after 18 minutes. Left completely unmarked in the centre of the box, Reed was on hand to comfortably head home Bulloch’s corner kick.
Sapazovski was brought on after the goal for Sam De Vito, who failed to run off a knock he picked up in the opening minutes.
The change sparked Bentleigh into action with Alex Rojas trying his luck from distance and almost finding the net, with his low shot whizzing inches past the upright.
Then, a beautiful passage of play saw Lokvancic put Sapazovski through on goal with a stylishly flicked pass. Dandenong goalkeeper Stuart Webster did well to stop the substitute’s shot but must have felt relieved when Sapazovski’s follow-up attempt struck the post.
But Bentleigh were unable to carry the momentum into the second half, as Dandenong started strongly after the restart.
Geoffrey Kellaway’s strike from the right-hand side of the box flew wide, and soon after, Ryan Davidson’s looping header clipped the bar.
Thunder coach Stuart Munro chose to substitute Reed eight minutes into the half, with the star striker showing signs of the hamstring soreness he experienced during last weekend’s clash against Altona Magic.
The Greens also had injury concerns. Dean Piemonte – one of the Bentleigh’s better performers – pulled up badly after a long sprint down the left wing and had to be replaced by Vasilos Natsioulas.
Despite not scoring, Damir Lokvancic was having a very good game and it was a real surprise when he was brought off with 15 minutes to play.
The pace of Dandenong’s Kellaway was causing major concerns for the home side, and the winger forced Damir Salcin into a spectacular diving save after he cut past Jack Webster and unleashed a powerful left-footed shot.
The closing stages produced few scoring opportunities as the Thunder held on for a well-deserved victory.
Courtesy of Football Federation Victoria