A Disappointing Draw
A second home game in a row saw Gajowianka Gaj visit Prądniczanka to challenge the Dragoons.
Three changes to the side saw Gabi Muñoz come back into the starting XI, with Marcin Obyrtacz unavailable. The Dragoons Chilean stopper would reach a personal and club landmark in making his 50th appearance for the club – the first player to do so.
In defence, Simon Calabrese missed the game through injury with Piotr Hajnrych coming into the team. Josh Dawson moved over centrally to partner Brian Lemmen, with Hajnrych settling into his natural position at left back.
A final change to the side saw the injured Joaquin Serrano replaced by Barry Chowaniec on the left wing.
The game started off at a quick pace with the visitors looking to get at the Dragoons straight away. A miscued shot at goal saw Nowak under pressure to clear for a corner. Gajowianka took a quick short corner and a shot from range went wide of the target.
Straight down the other end, a lightning attack saw Enrico Forabosco find Flavio Nkola down the left flank. The Angolan put a cross into the box and saw the ball blocked ahead of Puerini and put behind for a corner.
Forabosco whipped the ball into the box and it appeared to strike Dawson unwittingly on the knee. The ball plodded into the turf and Ryszard Cąber got down to clutch it into his body.
In the very next attack, the Dragoons opened the scoring to lead the game after 4 minutes. Flavio Nkola travelled with the ball with purpose and laid it into the path of Alessandro Puerini. The striker looked to return the ball to the Angolan, but played it just behind him into the path of Enrico Forabosco. The midfield magician waved his wand of a left foot at the ball, striking it first time and curling it beyond Cąber into the corner of the net.
Gajowianka looked to equalise almost immediately. A lofted pass forward found an attacker time his run and get by Hajnrych into the box. However, the subsequent shot flew high and wide of Muñoz’s goal.
Another long-pass forward caught the Dragoons out once again with 9 minutes played. Jacek Kufrej found space to blast a low shot at goal, but Muñoz showed strong wrists to fist the ball away.
Puerini did well to escape the attentions of the Gajowianka defence moments after. The Italian struck firmly at goal, but hit his effort straight at Cąber to save.
An excellent move for the Expats could have produced an early second goal for the side. Chowaniec burst down the left and put the ball across the edge of the box to Nkola. The winger cleverly back-heeled into the path of Forabosco to run free on goal. The Italian took a touch too many as he entered the box and an excellent saving tackle prevented a shot being taken.
Save for the Camera
Into the 23rd minute a free-kick gave the visitors a shooting chance at goal. The following effort at goal saw Muñoz spring like a cat and pull off a save for the cameras.
Down the other end, the Dragoons raced forward and won a free-kick of their own. Forabosco sent a searching ball into the box but could only find the gloves of the Cąber.
The old-school moustachioed keeper launched the ball down field and sloppy play at the back lead to another free-kick for the visitors on the edge of the box. On this occasion, Gajowianka took the set-piece short and the resulting shot flew miles over the bar.
Enter the Cąber
An attack forward by the Dragoons saw Çolakoğlu advanced in the Gajowianka half. The Turkish man-mountain had Nkola, Puerini and Chowaniec all making forward runs ahead of him. He elected to pass to Chowaniec, who pulled the ball back to Puerini. The Italian hit a fierce shot high at goal, but Cąber showed a strong hand to push over for a corner.
The following corner floated across the six-yard-box and just past the despairing dive of Dawson.
Deep in injury time, tensions rose as Dawson picked up a yellow card. The defender had been running back to his half when a Gajowianka man obstructed his path. The Englishman barged his opponent to the ground, with the visitors claiming foul play.
A Nightmare Return
Straight after, a poor Gajowianka free-kick only picked out Nowak. The Dragoons right-back launched a long-ball forward for Puerini to chase after. The Italian assassin attempted a spectacular lobbed effort, but Gajowianka’s former Dragoon Alessandro Soso caught Puerini following the shot.
After already receiving a yellow card earlier in the contest, Soso saw a second yellow card produced and found himself heading for an early bath.
Enrico Forabosco lined up the free-kick following the red card. He sent a sweet effort towards goal, but saw the shot hit the side netting.
Immediately after, the half time whistle blew with the Dragoons leading a feisty but entertaining game. Neither side had been able to establish dominance as both teams cancelled each other out.
A double change at the break saw Piotr Hajnrych withdrawn alongside Emre Çolakoğlu. The Polish left back had spent some time on the deck in the first half and Jordi Badolato came on to replace him. Çolakoğlu had been booked and Mark Szczesnowicz returned from injury in place of the Turk.
Despite the Dragoons bossing the early stages of the second period, the 10 men of Gajowianka started to press forward.
The 10 Men Equalise
With the Expats looking to slow down their opponents, passing it around at the back, disaster struck. Josh Dawson played the ball into the feet of Brian Lemmen. The usually dependable Dutchman took a heavy touch, gifting the ball to Grzegorz Chmiołek. The Gajowianka man broke forward on goal with a teammate bursting to his left. Chmiołek took a touch, before blasting a shot from 25 metres that sailed past Muñoz into the bottom corner.
With an equaliser out of nowhere, the Dragoons would have to up the ante. However, it would not be all plain sailing as the Expats began to struggle in possession.
In the 59th minute, the visitors came close to an unlikely second goal. Dawson competed for a header and connected with an opponent’s head in the centre of the park. The referee gave a free-kick for the Expats as Dawson won the ball, before changing his mind with both players going off for treatment.
Gajowianka smacked a long punt into the Dragoons box and an attacker found himself free. It looked like a second goal would be scored, only for Brian Lemmen to come across and bravely block away.
With 67 minutes played, the depleted visitors scored a stunning second to lead the game. The goal came with the Dragoons advanced up the pitch following a Nowak long-throw.
The Dragoons full-back launched the ball into the box but could not find a white shirt. The Expats recycled the ball back to Nowak, who sent a high cross into the box over everyone’s head. Chandran skipped onto the loose ball and cut it back to Forabosco, who looked to shoot, but saw a defender out quick to block the ball down. Gajowianka won the second ball and launched a lighting attack forward.
Goalscorer Chmiołek cleverly flicked the ball down the Dragoons right for a teammate to run onto. The return pass across the edge of the box, saw Badolato air-kick and completely miss an attempted clearance. Chmiołek had the goal at his mercy and smashed a shot into the top corner of the net to score his second.
The Dragoons knew they had got themselves into the mess and attempted to immediately respond. Great hold up play in attack by Puerini, saw the Italian pass the ball into substitute Rob Smits. The Dutchmeester smashed a shot from the edge of the box, forcing Cąber to push the ball out for a corner.
Dragoons Level the Score
Forabosco sent the set-piece into the box and Puerini lost the attentions of his marker. The striker got his head to the ball and saw it loop over Cąber and into the net for an equaliser. The goal saw the Dragoons hitman grab his sixth goal in only three games for the club.
The goal sparked a new impetus in the Expats who looked to go for a winner.
A poor clearance from Gajowianka fell at the feet of Forabosco. The midfielder put the ball into Puerini, who turned a defender to get into the box. On this occasion however, the striker snatched at the chance and ballooned the ball wide of the target.
Sloppy play from the visitors gifted the Dragoons another opportunity moments after. Rob Smits collected possession and fed a pass into Forabosco. The Dragoons creative heartbeat, excellently cut inside an opponent and raced towards the edge of the box.
Forabosco hit a clean right-footed shot, which looked destined to hit the net. Ryszard Cąber had other ideas however, flying right to splendidly keep the ball out.
The following corner saw Gajowianka struggle to clear, with the Expats working the ball to Mark Szczesnowicz. The Australian drilled a low shot from range that again brought an excellent save from Cąber. Alessandro Puerini latched on to the rebound, but the flag of the linesman halted the Italian in his tracks.
Gajowianka Down to Nine
Moments after, the all-action Szczesnowicz found himself grounded in his own half after a late tackle. The referee produced a second yellow card to Łukasz Matyszczak and Gajowianka found themselves further reduced to nine men.
With 10 minutes left to play, the Dragoons still had it all to do to get a winner. A long-throw from Nowak found the late run of Dawson into the box. The defender could not direct his header on goal however, sending the ball over the goal.
The Expats pushed bodies forward, with Nowak joining Puerini in an advanced position. The Polish national felt he should have won a penalty with 83 minutes played.
Brian Lemmen came out of defence with the ball and continued his run unopposed in the Gajowianka half. The Dutch giant unleashed a swerving drive from range that proved too hot for Cąber to handle. Nowak looked to pounce on the rebound, but saw his run obstructed by an opponent who brought the Pole to ground.
Cąber bravely slid the ball away from Smits and Gajowianka cleared the danger.
With the minutes ticking down, the Dragoons began to rush into every decision. Countless times, poor touches or decisions gifted possession back to the visitors, who ran down the clock at every opportunity.
A Final Chance!
The final chance of the game saw Dawson burst through the outfield and pass to Chandran out wide. The Indian whirlwind put in a defence splitting cross to find the charge of Puerini in the box. The Italian made a firm connection with the ball, but could not keep his volley down. The shot sailed over the target and the final whistle sounded shortly afterwards.
Despite playing against ten men, the Dragoons had managed to concede two goals to fall behind, before having to claw an equaliser to claim a point. Even against nine men with 10 minutes to play the Expats struggled to breakdown a stubborn rear-guard.
After winning two games on the bounce, the Expats seemed to slip into bad old habits. Decision making on the ball and an inability to play simple football proved costly. Once again, the Dragoons gifted their opponents’ goals and had to work thoroughly hard to score their own.
A disappointing fifth draw of the season sees the Dragoons remain ninth in the table. Disappointingly, results had gone their way and the Expats could have found themselves as high as sixth had they have won.
The Dragoons face a tough away trip to the joint league leaders KS Borek Kraków in their next fixture.
Borek are one of the oldest clubs in the league, having been formed in 1928. They changed their name from Borkowianka to Amatorski Klub Sportowy Borek in 1930. In the 70’s the side enjoyed a spell in the Polish 3rd division and have spent the past 20 years bouncing between the 4th and 5th (Liga Okręgowa) leagues.
Following Hutnik II Kraków folding mid-season, Borek ended the 21/22 season bottom of Liga Okręgowa and relegated. Borek have been in fine form so far this season, winning six times and drawing once. Their only loss came away from home with a 3-1 reverse against Tramwaj. Despite their better goal difference, Borek are in second place to Tramwaj on head-to-head games played.