Three in a Row
The Dragoons found themselves in familiar surroundings in their away fixture against Bratniak this weekend, as both sides share the pitch at Prądniczanka.
Simon Calabrese missed the game, meaning Josh Dawson returned to centre back with Francesco Leuci starting at left back. Emre Çolakoğlu also missed out, with Rob Smits returning to action to start in the centre of the park.
There was one other change to the line up with Yuri Samyonov starting his first game of the season replacing Hugo Cruz. The Portuguese utility man has sadly had to call time on his playing career after suffering a knee injury last week. He will now resume the season on the sidelines returning to coaching duties.
An early warning sign came in the very first minute of the match for the Dragoons. A huge long throw into the Expats box saw a header flicked on and Marcin Obyrtacz had to be alert to save low to his right.
Dragoons First Chance
In the 8th minute, another long throw came into the Dragoons box. Marcin Obyrtacz punched clear and Szymon Urzędowski charged down the right with the ball. The right back released a pass out wide to find the run of Alessandro Puerini. The Italian sent a cross into the box and found Rob Smits in space. The Dutchmeester chested the ball, however, it would not fall kindly for him to shoot. With the defence pressuring Smits, he laid the ball back to Samyonov on the edge of the box. The Israeli shot first time, but could not find any power to trouble Krystian Blak in the Bratniak goal.
Samyonov found himself in the thick of the action again two minutes later. Rohit Chandran came off the wing and found Saymonov free in the Bratniak box. The Dragoons attacker evaded two challenges, but a third saw the ball pinched off his toes and put behind for corner before he could pull the trigger to shoot.
Just a minute later, a long ball over the top breached the Dragoons defence. Marcin Obyrtacz raced out of his box however, and booted the ball for a throw. From the resulting long throw, a Bratniak head got to the ball first. Fortunately, the header lacked power and floated straight into the arms of Obyrtacz.
Bratniak took the lead in the 13th minute with the Dragoons gifting the hosts an early goal. A break in play saw the Dragoons put the ball into touch so that Martin Voženílek could receive treatment. Bratniak sportingly returned the ball back to Kuba Drobny. The centre back controlled the ball and then attempted to find Dawson with a rushed pass across the box. Drobny saw his under hit pass cut out by Piotr Marek who found himself with a free run to goal. Obyrtacz attempted to close the gap, however Marek showed good composure to dink it past the Dragoons stopper and into the net.
The Dragoons almost hit back immediately. Drobny cut out a long ball and headed the ball forward into Samyonov. The shaven headed attacker played the ball into the box for Alessandro Puerini to run onto. The striker allowed the ball to run across his body and struck a low drive with his left foot. The shot from a tight angle beat the dive of Blak, but flashed past the post and out for a goal kick.
A wet and dreary day saw both sides struggle to keep the ball in forward areas in the early exchanges. The Expats passed the ball around quickly, but found it hard to stick in the final third. Meanwhile, Bratniak looked happy to try long balls forward which the Expats easily dealt with.
On 27 minutes, a cross from Enrico Forabosco saw Bratniak temporarily reduced to 10 men. With the ball swung to the far post, Bratniak’s Jan Zawliński competed with Dawson and Smits to clear the danger away and went down clutching his head.
Moments after, a further corner for the Expats almost grabbed a leveller. Forabosco’s whipped ball into the box found the head of Puerini. The striker could only direct his close range header straight at Blak, who collected the ball at the second attempt.
As the half hour mark approached, the Dragoons made their numerical advantage count by grabbing an equaliser. The Dragoons pressed their opponents deep into their own half and Bratniak could not clear their lines. Forabosco gained possession inside the Bratniak half and beautifully picked out the perfectly timed run of Puerini. With just the keeper to beat, the Italian assassin lashed a fierce shot against the underside of the bar and into the goal, just millimetres over the line. The ball bounced back into play and Yuri Samyonov poked it into the net for good measure. Bratniak protested that the ball had not crossed the line and Samyonov had been offside as the official on the side had put his flag up. The referee, however, pointed to the centre circle with the goal standing for the Dragoons Italian forward.
Goals Like London Buses
Bratniak returned to their full complement of players straight after the goal as Zawliński bravely soldiered on for the hosts. The eleven men of the home side remained powerless to stop the Dragoons adding a quick fire second goal, however. A forward pass from Francesco Leuci found Puerini lurking on the edge of the box. The striker held the ball up and played a pass into the feet of Chandran. The Indian whirlwind looked up and played a delightful defence splitting pass to find Voženílek’s run in behind the Bratniak backline. The Czech winger took a touch to set himself and saw his initial effort excellently blocked by Blak from close range. Fortune smiled on the Dragoons speedster however, as the ball came straight back into his path and he nonchalantly rolled it into an unguarded net as the side had come back from their earlier set back to go 2-1 into the lead.
Nearly A Third!
Moments after the goal, the Dragoons poured forward hunting for a third goal. A lovely passage of football involving Samyonov and Chandran saw the ball at the feet of Enrico Forabosco. The midfield magician took a touch and hit a low shot at goal from range. The Italian did not get the best connection with the ball and it skidded across the turf and Blak comfortably saved.
Into the 39th minute, Forabosco slid into a challenge and the ball fell kindly for Voženílek. The Czech attacker looked up and slotted a pass through to Puerini. The Italian powered his way into the box hurdling a tackle and dumped Krystian Blak onto his backside as he shaped to shoot. With the goal at his mercy, the striker could only find the side netting with the tight angle getting the better of him.
Shortly afterwards, the official ended the half with the Dragoons 2-1 in front. Bratniak had offered very little, but had punished Drobny’s error to take the lead. The visitors did not let their heads drop and dominated the ball to deservedly lead at the break.
Just two minutes into the half the Expats notched a third goal with supreme football. Drobny made a good interception to break down a rare Bratniak attack. The Dragoons kept possession of the ball expertly with Bratniak chasing shadows. Rohit Chandran came from off the flank to receive a pass deep in his own half. The fleet footed attacker drove forward before looking up and playing a perfect through pass for Voženílek. With no defenders ahead of him, the Czech burst through the Bratniak half alone and bore down on goal. Upon entering the box, Voženílek looked up and to see Puerini in acres of space. The winger unselfishly passed to the Italian hitman, who tapped the ball into an unguarded net for his second goal of the game.
On 50 minutes, the unfortunate Jan Zawliński went down for a second time holding his head. As Bratniak looked to get back into the game, Zawliński ran out of the way of a team mate surging forward, receiving a gentle nudge from Leuci as he attempted to close the ball down. The shove inadvertently drove him straight into the path of the covering Josh Dawson. The hapless Zawliński face planted into the big English centre back’s head with both players went down requiring treatment with blood drawn. It would prove to be the last action for the luckless mo-hawk sporting Bratniak man.
With both sides continuing with 10 men on the field, the hosts looked to find a way back into the game. A short corner in the 55th minute saw a shot from range fly over the Dragoons goal.
After a period of scrappy football from both sides, the Dragoons extended their lead with a fourth goal on 69 minutes. An attempted clearance by Bratniak saw the ball smack Voženílek in the face and into the path of Puerini. The Italian played a neat one-two with Rob Smits to get in behind a static Bratniak defence. The striker entered the box and saw his first effort well saved, but he showed quick reactions to head home the rebound via the post. The goal sealed the Dragoons top scorer a perfect hat-trick, increasing his tally to 15 for the season.
With 72 minutes played, the Dragoons came close to scoring a 5th goal. Bratniak could not clear their lines once again, and substitute Jamie Beattie hooked the ball into the path of Puerini. The Italian raced into the box, however, his cross-shot rolled wide of the target.
A Hero Enters
It would prove to be the Italian assassin’s last involvement in the match. Puerini appeared to pull up with an injury and the long serving club hero Błażej Święcicki came onto the pitch, receiving a rapturous reception from his adoring fans.
On 75 minutes, a nice flowing move saw Chandran release Smits on the edge of the box. The Dutchmeester shot first time but Blak stood strong and got two firm hands to push the ball away.
Two minutes later, Bratniak had a chance to reduce the deficit. A floated pass found Sławomir Skoczyk alone inside the box. Marcin Obyrtacz raced off his line to close the gap forcing Skoczyk to head straight at the Dragoons custodian.
Down the other end, a corner from Forabosco almost saw the Dragoons add another goal. The Italian whipped the ball towards the near post which found the clever run of Kuba Drobny. The Dragoons centre back had his head in hands however, as he saw his glanced effort bounce back off the post.
With three minutes to play, Drobny had another glorious chance to score. Another Forabosco corner found the Polish national’s head, but Drobny sent his powerful header over the bar.
Bratniak had the last chance of the game in the last minute. A delightful forward pass exposed the the Dragoons high line. Skoczyk raced onto goal but tamely shot straight at Obyrtacz who grabbed the ball at the second attempt.
The game ended very shortly afterwards with the Dragoons cruising to victory. A relatively quiet second half saw the Dragoons dominate proceedings to win a third victory in a row. Bratniak never really looked like troubling the Expats and ambled around the pitch. The hosts looked slow to close down the Dragoons and never really put the visitors under pressure. It allowed the Expats to play their passing game with ease and dominate possession.
Following the win, the Dragoons have moved into 7th place in the table. They are now two points off of 6th placed Wanda Kraków, who have two games in hand. Below the Dragoons are Gajowianka Gaj and Dąbski Kraków who are 8th and 9th respectively. Both sides could leapfrog the Expats should they win their game in hand however.
The Dragoons return to Fenix Trophy action for their next fixture. The Expats have the relatively short trip to Prague to face off against the Prague Raptors. The Dragoons are playing for pride following their elimination from the competition and will be looking to avenge their 1-5 defeat to the Raptors back in March.
With close to a full squad available the Dragoons go into the game with confidence following victories in their last three games.