SHINING in front of family, English striker Brandon Barnes had a goal-spree on Saturday afternoon to give Dandenong Thunder its 14th and most emphatic win of the NPL 2 East season.
With his father Alan in the stands, definitely picking the right weekend to be around to watch his son in Australia, Dandenong Thunder’s mercurial forward Barnes has been virtually untouchable throughout his first 10 matches… but he saved something special for his 11th.
He slotted eight goals in a marquee performance as the NPL phenomenon proved far too strong in a 10-1 triumph over Nunawading City.
The youthful Nunawading City was gallant through the first half – restricting the usual free-flowing Thunder game-plan and holding the opposition to a solitary goal from the man of the moment at the break.
But the second half was chaos for the hosts as Dandenong slammed on nine, with seven of those going to Barnes.
Barnes only opened his ledger late in the half, but number 10 had plenty more tricks up his sleeve come the second stanza.
The heavens opened just as the Thunder upped its rampage. The Barnesy Army willed its superstar striker on; “pull the trigger Barnesy,” they hollered from the sidelines.
Obliging his fans, and then some, Barnes went from a single to a hat-trick after back-to-back strikes in the 59th and 60th. He added another two more in the next five minutes to leave the crowd stunned as the scoreline went from 1-0 to 6-0 in a heartbeat. Barnes wasn’t done by any stretch; even as the rain buffeted the eastern suburbs, the Thunder striker just shone brighter.
Given it on a string from Kristian Sarkies, Nick Modaffari and Daniel Bennett, Barnes had a field day, but it wasn’t completely one-sided. He dished off plenty of near-miss opportunities and assists… it was just primed to be his day.
Barnes’ last two were split by Nunawading City’s Sam Antoniadis, who broke the Fraser Maclaren’s clean-sheet with an incredible free kick goal, but the last rites were delivered by… you can probably guess who.
His through ball in the dying minutes was meant to be to space but surprisingly his pass beat the keeper to give him his eighth to cap off the extraordinary outing.
“Every game, every time I get one, I’d like to think the next chance i’m going to score,” Barnes said. “I’m going stay as positive as I can and today clearly, one went in and they kept coming so it was good.
“We changed formation a little bit – i don’t think it was quite working for us – but credit to Nunawading, they kept the ball around.
“Kept it away from us, was very hard – in the second half we changed it to a way that was suitable for us and we played it into our advantage and did what we do best.”
The song took almost as long as the match to finish as the Thunder cheered the 10 goals for the day, leaving coach Huss Skenderovic with plenty to be excited about at the half-way stage of the NPL 2 East campaign.
“We’re quite pleased with the second half performance in particular,” Skendorovic said. “We changed formation and looked at a couple of things – was a really good game for us to actually experiment a little bit… but why change what was working?
“In the second half we went back and made a change, structurally we went back to the way we play best and with Brandon on song today to score a lot – I lost count in the end and had to ask the fourth official how many he had – but fantastic and very happy for him to do the job for us today.
“Speaking to him in regards to his positioning, I’ve told him if he does that he’ll score – three… four… five… and today it’s eight.”
It puts Barnes’ tally into the stratosphere as he’s rained 26 goals down upon NPL 2 already this season by the half-way mark.
The 14-0-0 Thunder is flying at the moment – sitting with a whopping plus-43 goal difference.
Messages of love come through after tragic crash destroys young lives… CAMERON LUCADOU-WELLS reports on the tragic Dandenong Ranges deaths of tw... Read More »