The Dragoons made the journey to Bieżanow to face a youthful Bieżanowianka II side, who looked to stand in the way of the Expats title glory on the final day of a gruelling league season. Ashvin Asani’s side knew that a point would be enough to secure the B Klasa title, but securing all three remained the aim.
Brian Lemmen, David Nicolas and Yuri Samyonov all dropped out of the squad to be replaced by Piotr Hajnyrch, Enrico Forabosco and the returning Joaquin Serrano. Josh Dawson moved from left back to partner Alexey Zelenkin at the heart of the defence.
With just five minutes on the clock, the Expats raced into the lead with the opening goal. Piotr Hajnrych, on the left flank, sent a cross high into the box that made its way to Robert Ambrosie on the opposite flank. The Romanian right back, whipped the ball back into the Bieżanowianka box, where Adrian Paliś waited. The Dragoons top scorer swooped, flicking a headed effort at goal that looped over Kamil Sowa’s head and nestled into the net just under the crossbar.
The Expats came close to a second just two minutes later, with Paliś again involved. The Polish striker, playing on the right side, lashed a pass across the Bieżanowianka penalty area. Flavio Nkola looked to add the finishing touch to score, but saw his shot cleared off the line.
Enrico Forabosco sent a deep corner into the box, which missed everyone. Robert Ambrosie picked up the loose ball, but sent his shot high over the goal.
Paliś looked to break into the box and create a shooting chance for himself just a minute later. Only good defending halted the forward in his tracks, but a corner presented the Expats with a further scoring chance.
Deadly Duo Strike Again?
The ForaDawson connection almost came to fruition once again from the following set-piece. Forabosco delivered into the box and the ball landed perfectly onto the head of Josh Dawson. The unmarked defender perhaps had too much time, as he saw his effort skim the top of the bar and out of play. The same combination has been a rich source of chances/goals for the Expats this season, but not on this occasion.
Down the other end, the hosts had a great chance to score and level the game. Poor communication in the Expats backline saw the burly Bieżanowianka forward, Antoni Sajnog with the ball at his feet and in on goal. The striker never looked confident however, tamely hitting his shot straight at Muñoz. The danger remained though, with the rebound landing at the feet at Jakub Gawlik.
Gawlik hit a powerful drive, that looked all the way a goal, only for Josh Dawson to intervene, with the ball striking the defender’s chest and going behind for a corner.
A frantic 10 minutes, saw the Expats continue to drive forward. A Forabosco corner, could not be cleared, but Paliś could not punish Bieżanowianka hitting a left-footed shot wide.
Bieżanowianka Battle Back!
Bieżanowianka looked to go on the attack themselves and Sajnog called Muñoz into action in the 17th minute. A counter-charge by the hosts, saw the striker find time to curl an effort from the edge of the box, but only straight into the arms of the Dragoons custodian.
Moments after, Bieżanowianka came even closer to equalising. The hosts began to find their feet in the encounter and came forward with pace. A sweetly struck curling effort from Gawlik beat Muñoz, but fortunately scudded off the top of the bar.
A period of dominance from the home side saw yet another chance come their way in the 19th minute. A great searching pass saw Gawlik beat Hajnrych for pace down the Expats left flank. The winger drove into the Dragoons box, hitting a low shot at goal. Muñoz stood firm to deny the effort with his legs, sending the ball out for a corner.
It Had Been Coming…
In the 21st minute, Bieżanowianka grabbed a deserved equaliser. The home side had been knocking on Expats door and another long ball caught the Dragoons defence all at sea. Gawlik accelerated past the backline to burst through on goal with just Muñoz to beat. The pacey forward unselfishly squared the ball to the waiting Sajnog, who took a heavy touch, but recovered his composure to tap into an unguarded net.
The goal seemed to deflate the Expats, who began to struggle to find their rhythm in possession.
Careless play at the back gave Bieżanowianka a good chance to take the lead in the 28th minute. Hubert Machalski failed to make the Expats pay however, dragging a shot wide when well placed.
Against The Run Of Play
Despite being on the backfoot for a period of time, the Expats snatched the lead on the half-hour mark.
Joaquin Serrano ran down the left side and looked to turn a defender, drawing a foul in the process. Forabosco stepped up to take the kick down by the by-line between the box and the corner flag. The Italian crossed into the 6 yard area, finding Flavio Nkola whose head connected with the ball. The Angolan’s effort thumped down into the ground, past the dive of Sowa and into the net to put the Dragoons back into the driving seat.
Serrano beautifully controlled a long pass in the 33rd minute. The Spanish sensation turned and broke forward, but saw his subsequent shot fail to trouble the target.
A Tale Of Touches
Rohit Chandran produced a sublime touch of his own moments after. The Indian whirlwind slotted an excellent through-ball to find Paliś unmarked. The Pole’s touch deserted him however, with the ball bobbling through to Sowa in the Bieżanowianka goal.
Straight down the other end, another Bieżanowianka long-pass floated agonisingly over the head of Alexey Zelenkin. Wiktor Gawłowski looked to be the grateful recipient of the ball, finding himself alone in the box. But like with Paliś moments before, a heavy touch saw the ball dribble out of play.
The last chance of the half saw the hosts create a chance for an equaliser. Another forward pass found Gawłowski in space on the right. The Bieżanowianka forward broke into the box, but chose to cross and subsequently failed to pick out a team-mate.
Moments after, the half-time whistle sounded with Expats with one hand on the winner’s trophy. The Expats had started the game well, however the youthful Bieżanowianka side had managed to exploit the Dragoons backline with their pace on a few occasions and put in a disciplined performance to make for an entertaining game.
The first chance of the second period fell to the hosts from a corner. Jan Wolak jumped highest to head at goal, but sent his effort over the crossbar.
A first real foray into the Bieżanowianka half saw the Expats further extend their lead in the 51st minute. Forabosco sent an inch-perfect pass beyond the last defender for Flavio Nkola to stretch his legs. The Angolan broke forward into the box, generously passing to Adrian Paliś, who slotted the ball home. The Dragoons all-time top scorer notched his 24th strike of the campaign and 59th overall goal for the club.
Three minutes later, the Expats nabbed their fourth goal of the game. Excellent football by Rohit Chandran, saw the fleet-footed attacker dance forward. A lovely threaded pass found Nkola in space and the Dragoons attacker smacked a low shot beyond the stranded Sowa to bring the score to 4-1.
What a Hit!
A beautiful strike from Bieżanowianka halved the deficit in the 58th minute. The dangerman Jakub Gawlik cut in onto his favoured left-foot just outside the Dragoons box on the right. The forward hit a fizzing effort that gave Muñoz absolutely no chance, smacking the post before hitting the net. A goal of real quality from the hosts to make the game interesting.
Straight after the goal, Bieżanowianka broke again and only excellent marshalling by Josh Dawson in the Dragoons rear-guard prevented the hosts from troubling the Expats goal.
A quick counter from Dragoons saw Paliś attempt to score his hat-trick, however the striker spanked his shot wide of the mark.
With the heat beating down onto the pitch, the Dragoons freshened the side with changes. Veteran Englishman Scott Halcrow, the bullish full-back Edoardo Battaglion and Portuguese Pitbull Gonçalo Rodrigues came onto the pitch, with Alexey Zelenkin, Piotr Hajnrych and Joaquin Serrano making way.
In the 72nd minute, the Dragoons came close to notching a fifth goal through Nkola. Chandran again came forward with purpose and found the Angolan on the edge of the box. The winger punted an effort at goal, that whistled inches past Sowa’s post.
A magical goal gave the Expats a three-goal cushion and sent the Dragoons supporters into delirium. Adrian Paliś attempted to break through into the box, with the ball making its way to Enrico Forabosco. The Italian took one touch, before nonchalantly bending a shot into the top corner to score his 10th goal of the season. The midfield magician raised his arms in celebration, receiving adulation from his team-mates. Yes, Enri we are thoroughly entertained!
Forabosco and Nkola made way to rapturous applause moments later, as club cult-heroes Cedrick Mwamba and Błazej Święcicki came on as substitutes.
Robert Ambrosie sent a firm shot wide of the target before Paliś again went for a hat-trick goal. The Polish striker, could have passed to Mwamba for a tap-in but elected to shoot from a tight angle. Sowa pushed the ball away, but only straight back to the Expats marksman.
On this occasion, Paliś passed across the six-yard box with Święcicki, looking to poach a goal. Sadly, the charismatic wide-man failed to get a good contact on the ball and it bounced off the post.
Święcicki had another opportunity to break his scoring duck with 88 minutes on the clock. Paliś showed good feet down the right and put the ball on a plate for his fellow Polish national. This time, Święcicki went for power as he latched onto the pass, blasting the ball over the bar from close range.
With the game coming to a close, the Dragoons won a free-kick from range. The stars literally aligned for Edoardo Battaglion as he ran to shoot. The Italian full-back whacked the ball as hard as he could, sending it careering high into the sky. They say if you look into the heavens with a telescope, you might just get a glimpse of the ball travelling somewhere near Uranus.
History came close to repeating itself in the dying seconds. Cedrick Mwamba came inches away from prodding his second goal, on the same pitch he scored his first. Unfortunately, it was not to be and a sharp blast from the referee ended the match 5-2.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!
The Dragoons players and fans danced in joy as the final whistle meant that the club had won it’s maiden trophy. Championes rang out around the pitch as the Expats hard work had finally paid dividends. The Dragoons had made life difficult for themselves with last weekend’s draw against Wawel, but could now put that all behind them.
In truth it has been a fantastic season for the Expats. The team put themselves in a great position to win promotion winning 14 games on the trot.
Next season will see the Expats compete at A Klasa level for the first time and we will bring you more news when we have it.
Until then, thank you to all the fans, coaches and players for your continued support. Without any of you these musings would not be possible and we hope to bring you more content in the near future!