VPL Finals Week Two: Dandenong Thunder

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Dandenong Thunder have had a season to remember; claiming the VPL Minor Premiership weeks in advance before taking out the Dockerty Cup. Their aim is now to claim the first Victorian treble for 31 years with the next step a match against Oakleigh Cannons this Friday in the Victorian Premier League Major Semi-Final. Here we preview their chances against last season’s runner-up.

Read the Oakleigh Cannons preview here.

Last week:
Having claimed the Minor Premiership, Dandenong had the week off to nurse any injuries and to scout their opposition one last time. With Oakleigh playing the tough Green Gully last week, Dandenong’s fresh legs will be hoping to run rings around the Cannons.

This week:
A victory for the Thunder will see them straight through to their first Grand Final since 2009 and will confirm their status as Premiership favourites. A loss will not be the end of the world however, as the double chance will ensure they survive another week to play the winner of the Minor Semi-Final to try and snare the second Grand Final position.

Why Dandenong will beat Oakleigh: 
Dandenong have been the best side in the Victorian Premier League this season and have arguably been the best side to contest a VPL season in recent memory. With strike power all over the pitch Dandy have no weak points and for that reason alone are hard to break down.

Why Dandenong won’t beat Oakleigh:
Luke Sherbon. The Welsh midfielder has been a key player for the Thunder this season, controlling play from the middle as well as equalling the club goal scoring record with 17. The problem is, he may not play. After succumbing to a hamstring injury in the Dockerty Cup Final, Sherbon has been on ice since, but it is still to be seen if he will take any further part in this season. With such a critical player potentially missing, the former UEFA Champions League players’ absence could be what stops Dandenong from completing the Triple Crown.

Player to watch:
Despite some impressive attacking players such as Canadian Nate Foster, Sean McIlroy and Liam Kearney, the player with the brightest future at the club is Anthony ‘Bryan’ Bran at centre back. A classic ‘beanpole’ defender, Bran was selected for the Young Socceroos as recently as last season and has been in form all year. Earmarked by former Oakleigh coach Arthur Papas as a future star, Bran has continued his development this season at his new club.

Prediction:
Matches between these two sides this year have been quite even, but with a Grand Final spot on the line except Dandenong to rise to the occasion and dominate from start to finish.

Match details:
What: VPL Major Semi-Final
Who: Dandenong Thunder vs Oakleigh Cannons
Where: George Andrews Reserve
When: 8.15pm, Friday 28 September

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Christian Layland
The Media Manager at Western Sydney Wanderers for four seasons and the Melbourne Victory W-League team for two, Christian is co-founder and Chief of Staff of The Football Sack and currently coaches at Wanderers Academy.
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