City shows fight in Warriors loss

Dandenong City defender Matthew Hennessey scored his first goal of the season on Friday night. Picture: DANDENONG CITY

By Marcus Uhe

Dandenong City’s shaky defence proved its undoing once again on Friday night in a 3-1 loss to ladder-leading Heidelberg United in National Premier League (NPL) Victoria football.

The only side in the table’s top half with a negative goal differential, the strength of the competition’s pacesetters was too much for City to overcome at home.

City kept pace in the early stages of the contest and looked to match fire with fire against the heavyweight opponent until the visitors broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute.

City only had themselves to blame, giving the ball away in their own penalty area while attempting to pass out from the last line of defence after a goal kick.

John Hall’s second pass in the attempted chain was intercepted by Asahi Yokokawa within the six yard box, with Hall scrambling to reclaim possession after a horror mistake.

With an unsettled defence, there was no time for the City defenders to cover the interception, as Kaine Sheppard put the visitors ahead.

Having opened the scoring, a shift in the game unfolded as Heidelberg endeavored to press home its advantage, with former Dandenong Thunder attacker Leo Mazis leading the charge.

Another former Thunder player in James Ali doubled the lead late in the half, after his teammates fought to keep an attack alive in the face of immense City pressure.

There was simply nothing Hall could do to prevent the goal as Ali completed a brilliant spin on Jackson Lino and fired home the goal from point blank range.

Defender Matthew Hennessey halved the deficit early in the second half with a long towering header that deflected brilliantly for the home side off the inside of the upright, injecting life back into the contest and giving City hope of snatching a point.

But the Warriors restored the two-goal buffer in the 62 minute with a gorgeous strike from the edge of the penalty area.

With Valli Cesnik dispossessed at halfway, the Warriors spring into action with a counter attack that reaped the biggest of rewards.

Yokokawa spread the ball wide to Sean Ellis, with Lino standing him up on the right hand side.

Ellis cut inboard and let rip from outside the area that cleared Hall and superbly in the top left corner.

3-1 in Heidelberg’s favour was how the score remained, leaving City without a win at Frank Holohan since round two, and having won just one of its last six contests.

Second-placed Avondale comes to Frank Holohan on Friday night.