Thunder claim first win, second time round

Rafe Griffin(@rafegriffin)

Thunder v Fury final

New SWQ Thunder recruit Mustafa Jafari (left)

After a 44 match streak without a win, the South-West Queensland Thunder have finally broken their duck in Toowoomba on Saturday night in a 2-1 win over Northern Fury.

The Thunder originally recorded their inaugural win in their first ever NPL match back in 2014. However, that result was expunged from the records when the team they defeated that evening, Central Queensland Energy were withdrawn from the competition three matches into the season.

Goals to new recruits Mustafa Jafari and Majok Piok midway through the first half made up the Thunder tally while Charles Staley provided tense moments for the home crowd when he scored for the Fury with five minutes remaining.

Jafari quickly become a fan favourite in Toowoomba. Every time he was anywhere near the ball, the large home crowd cheered in excitement. He was able to bring out that reaction early on making a run into the box that was ultimately snuffed out by the Fury for a corner.

Thunder defender Rowan Saloman shot towards goal but any chance of a goal was ruled out by Ash Stout’s whistle for a foul.

Jafari continued to play havoc with the Fury defence testing keeper Matt Bolton on a number of occasions.

Fury struggled to make anything count in the final third. Sam Herlihy, Stephen Blackburn and Hamish Cassady all having half chances around the 20-minute mark.

Thunder then piled on the pressure, challenging the Fury’s line on a number of occasions with Tom Fanning and Ben Barrowclift asking questions of Bolton.

Herlihy almost caught the Thunder defence napping but he was called offside. It will be something the Thunder will need to be more wary off against more experienced teams.

Straight from the restart, Jafari put a cross in for Piok who should have beaten Bolton at the back post but was caught off-balance and couldn’t get a shot away.

That was alright because in the next minute Barrowclift played a cross for Jafari at the near post that he elected to flick it on for Piok waiting at the far post who slid it past Bolton for a 1-0 Thunder lead.

The advantage was doubled four minutes later with Jafari played in. Using his pace he was too quick for the defence and tucked it away. He then cheekily celebrated his effort by sitting on the bench and clapped his own goal.

Thunder could have had three with ten minutes left in the half. Lachlan Atkinson providing a slide pass for Barrowclift who had the ball in the back of the net but denied by the assistant’s flag.

Referee Stout then had two quick-fire penalty decisions at either end of the park right on halftime. Corey Waples for the Fury and Jafari both having their shouts fall on deaf ears.

After the break, Herlihy scuffed a one-on-one opportunity before familiar combinations kicked in for the Thunder attack.

Jafari did everything but score with a run down the right and another one-on-one with Bolton who did enough to foil Jafari into shooting into the side netting.

Jafari and Piok attempted to play provider for Fanning who shot high over the bar.

The duo continuing to be busy as they exchanged shots on the Fury goal including one that Jafari rung the upright with.

The match went into a bit of a lull mid-way through the second half. Jafari attempted to bring it back to life again with a cross that just snuck in front of Piok, across the face and unable to be kept in by Barrowclift.

Jafari was replaced with just over a quarter of an hour remaining and that saw the final five minutes became an intense affair as Herlihy found the underside of the bar for the Fury, the Thunder was unable to clear and Staley cleaned up the scraps.

Sustained attack on the Thunder line was the order of the day as the Fury suddenly sprang to life. Offside calls and desperate defence ultimately kept the northerners from claiming a point.

The night was all about the Thunder though and the football faithful of the South-West Queensland zone. An almighty cheer and jubilant scenes filled Clive Berghofer Stadium at full-time and based on that performance, the Thunder will earn the ‘entertainers’ tag this season.

SWQ Thunder 2 (Majok Piok 25’, Mustafa Jafari 29’) v Northern Fury 1 (Charles Staley 85’)

SWQ Thunder: Luke Borean, Rowan Saloman, Keagan Sheridan, Ben Barrowclift, Jackson Haussler (Jack Percy 55’), Tom Fanning (Jackson Courtney 82’), Lachlan Atkinson, Mustafa Jafari (Matt Hull 73’), Majok Piok, Jacob Bigby, Xavier Pratt. Subs not used: Slide Canda, Jayden Formosa

Northern Fury: Matt Bolton, George Dalton, Tom Pearce, Kelvin Mapendere (Matt Gauci-Martin 79’), Jae Eurell, Michael Eisenhut, Stephen Blackburn (Charles Slaney 57’), Sam Herlihy, Corey Waples, Hamish Cassady, Pandeli Mihalis (Josh Bowman 40’). Sub not used: Ryan Murphy.