A Good Start in Puchar Polski
Dragoons Kraków kicked off the 21/22 season with a Polish Cup tie against higher opposition in A Klasa side RKS Iskra Krzęcin.
The tie saw a return to action for Jamie Beattie and a familiar face in Gonçalo Rodrigues, who recently returned to the club. Dragoons club stalwart and coach Hugo Cruz lined up for his first appearance along with exciting new signing Joaquin Serrano.
Kick-off was delayed slightly as the Dragoons stood tall to impeccably observe a moments silence to commemorate the heroic and brave souls that gave their lives, fighting for the freedom of the Polish state on the anniversary of W-hour – the beginning of Operation Tempest, known as the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupation on 1st August 1944.
The home side had barely taken a touch of the ball when they fell behind in only the 3rd minute. A corner kick for the away side was floated towards the back post. An Iskra man rose highest to nod the ball back across goal and Pasierbek was unmarked to send a looping header into the corner of the net past Muñoz.
Iskra had the better of the opening exchanges and the Dragoons had to wait until the 10th minute for their first chance. A long ball forward found Jamie Beattie, who attempted a snapshot at goal, but could not find the target.
The visitors had a glorious chance to extend their lead in the 14th minute. Poor defending from the Dragoons allowed a shot at goal from Tomasz Ziarko. Fortunately for the home side, the Iskra man snatched at the chance and miscued his shot wide.
Flavio to the Rescue
A minute later the Dragoons levelled the score. The fleet-footed Flavio Nkola played the ball into the box towards Jamie Beattie. The forward could not get the ball under control, however, it bounced back into the path of Nkola. The Angolan attacker showed great calmness to slot the ball past Kisielewski into the bottom corner to bring the score-line to 1-1.
Not to be undone however, Iskra immediately went back on the attack and Muñoz had to be alert to save from Ziarko.
Iskra had a further chance in the 17th minute as Gonçalo Rodrigues fouled an opponent on the edge of the box. The resulting set-piece cannoned off of the wall and went out for a corner kick.
From the resulting corner, the Dragoons cleared the ball away to Joaquin Serrano. The wing wizard played the ball to Flavio Nkola to stretch his legs. The attacker drove into the box beating a defender and saw a powerful drive deflect wide for a corner.
The Dragoons began to dominate proceedings and started to produce further chances. The best chance fell to midfielder Rob Smits, who shot over the bar, following good frontline pressure from the home side.
Into the 27th minute, the Dragoons had a great chance to extend their lead from the penalty spot. Joaquin Serrano played an exquisite angled pass for Nkola to chase onto. The forward showed pace to burst into the box and saw his attempt at beating his man stopped by a hand of an Iskra defender. The referee pointed to the spot and Brian Lemmen stepped up, tamely hitting the ball straight down the middle and Kisielewski comfortably saved.
Excellent defending from Edoardo Battaglion down the right flank saw Serrano gain possession of the ball. The winger played another sublime pass for Nkola to run onto. The Iskra defence and goalkeeper was caught in no man’s land, however the Dragoons man could not take advantage, lofting his shot over the bar.
A further chance for the Dragoons came in the 38th minute, when Hugo Cruz arrowed a long ball into the Iskra box. Rob Smits timed his run to perfection, heading powerfully at goal and just missing the target by inches.
Serrano and Nkola both had further efforts at goal before the half time whistle but could not trouble Kisielewski. The sides went into the half time break a goal apiece with the Dragoons finishing the half the strongest.
A slow start to the second half saw the Dragoons forced into an early substitution. Serrano signalled to the bench that he could not continue and Adrian Paliś took to the pitch in his place.
Paliś was immediately involved in the action a moment later as he played the ball to Nkola. The wide-man found himself through on goal but Kisielewski stood strong to divert the ball wide.
The Dragoons substitute had his first glance of goal in the 59th minute. Good work from the Dragoons saw Smits expertly dummy the ball allowing Paliś a shot on goal. On this occasion however, the marksman dragged his attempt off target.
Just a minute later and Iskra had their first chance of the second half with a free-kick. Czwartek rose highest in the Dragoons box, but saw a header fly wide.
Dragoons take the Lead
In the 63rd minute, the Dragoons second half dominance paid off as they grabbed their second goal of the game. The tireless Jamie Beattie regained possession for the Dragoons inside the Iskra half and the ball fell to Paliś. The striker played a delightful one-two with Smits, who released the frontman with just the keeper to beat. Paliś shimmied a shot, putting Kisielewski on the floor and calmly rolled the ball into the net to bring the score to 2-1.
Three minutes later and it could easily have been 3-1. Paliś expertly beat his man to the ball on the edge of the box and unselfishly passed to Beattie. The attacker shot first-time and saw his effort sting the palms of Kisielewski and spill to Rodrigues. The Portuguese midfield man attempted a lobbed effort; however, the ball was easily gathered by the Iskra custodian.
In the passage of play that followed, a bouncing ball caused havoc in the Dragoons box. Brian Lemmen went arm to arm with an Iskra forward and dragged his man down as he went to ground. The assistant referee immediately flagged and the referee pointed to the spot for a second time in the game.
Daniel Guguła stepped up confidently and smashed the ball into the net to equal the score-line to 2-2.
Cruz Missile into the Box
The Dragoons hit back immediately in the 70th minute. Hugo Cruz launched a free-kick into the area, which the Iskra defence cleared to the edge penalty box. Flavio Nkola reacted quickest to rifle the ball through a forest of legs and into the net to regain the lead for the Expats.
Iskra began to push forward for an equaliser and had a good chance in the 74th minute. A long-throw into the Dragoons area fell to a visiting forward and the resulting shot smashed over the bar.
Two minutes later, a series of corners again saw Iskra go close again, but they could not find the target.
On the 83rd minute mark, the Dragoons won their second penalty of the game. Adrian Paliś had been a continuous thorn to the Iskra backline and went down under a challenge in the box. The referee instantly pointed to the spot and Paliś picked himself up to extend the Dragoons lead to 4-2.
The away side threw bodies forward in the hope to reduce the deficit, but could not breach the Dragoons backline.
Into injury time, the Dragoons came agonisingly close to a fifth goal. Rob Smits curled a delightful effort from range that cannoned back off the crossbar. The rebound could not be tucked away and the referee’s whistle sounded shortly afterwards to end the match.
The Dragoons came away from the fixture victorious and fully deserved their win. The result will see the Expats take on A Klasa side TS Tramwaj Kraków in the next stage of the cup and will hope for a similar result against higher opposition once again.