The Dragoons faced Bratniak Krakow this weekend, as the side went in search of their first victory of the season.
Coach Ash Asani made five changes from last week’s draw with Krakus Swoszowice. Josh Dawson returned to the side in the place of Ceri Looker, who dropped to the bench. Robert Ambrosie replaced Edo Battaglion and Piotr Hajnrych dropped out of the squad for Michał Nowak.
Further changes saw Błażej Święcicki and Rohit Chandran replace Joaquin Serrano and Flavio Nkola.
With the side struggling to pick up their first victory, a rapid start saw the first goal arrive in 2 minutes.
Robert Ambrosie threw himself into a tackle and the ball flew forward aerially. Rohit Chandran plucked it out of the air with a nice touch and passed to Enrico Forabosco on the right side of the penalty area. The midfield magician cut inside on the left and put the ball into the six-yard box. The Bratniak defence and goalkeeper stood like statues as the ball trickled nonchalantly into the far corner of the net for the opening goal.
It could have been two in the 5th minute. Great build-up from the back saw the Dragoons progress forward. Forabosco found Chandran in the box, but the Indian could not find the target with his fierce drive.
Just a minute later and the visitors scored an equaliser with their first shot of the game. A corner kick floated into the box and this time the Dragoons defence turned into statues. The ball bobbled off of Rob Smits and Jan Zawiliński smashed a shot beyond Obyrtacz to bring the score to 1-1.
Swing and a Miss…
With only 10 minutes played, the visitors took the lead in bizarre fashion. The Dragoons gave away possession high up the pitch and Bratniak played a long ball forward to counter. Obyrtacz looked favourite to the loose ball as he dashed off his line but inexplicably swiped and missed the ball. It cannoned off of his standing left leg and gave Oleksandr Dusheiko the easiest of finishes, passing the ball from range into an empty goal.
The game settled down, but the confidence had visibly drained from the Expats. Passes went astray and a lack of movement in attack saw the Dragoons struggle to change their fortunes.
It took until the 22nd minute of the game for the next chance of note to arrive. The visitors won a free-kick from range and tried their luck with a shot. Obyrtacz showed firm fists to punch the ball clear for a corner.
The following corner saw the Dragoons only clear the ball to the edge of the box. A further shot flew at goal, but proved to be no problem for Obyrtacz.
In the 33rd minute, the Expats had their best chance to equalise. A trademark long-throw from Nowak found the head of Dawson in the box. The big English centre-back could not find the target however.
Not Again… Third Time Unlucky
Disaster struck once again for the Dragoons in the 35th minute as the visitors snatched a third goal.
A back-pass from Dawson saw two Bratniak attackers close down Obyrtacz. The Dragoons keeper attempted a clearance under pressure but lacked the conviction in his kick. Brian Lemmen appeared to try and control the clearance in his own box; however, the ball fell kindly to Piotr Marek. The Bratniak man shot first-time and despite a desperate dive, Obyrtacz could not get a strong enough hand to stop the ball from going into the net for 1-3.
The Expats came close to an immediate riposte, but Rob Smits blasted a shot over the crossbar.
Off the Post!
A minute later, the Dragoons came perilously close to scoring. Święcicki found himself in space on the right flank and attempted a cross. The ball ricocheted off a defender and bobbled off the post and back into play. The ball fell kindly to Forabosco who smashed the rebound at goal, but excellent defending saw the shot blocked. Dawson got a head to the following corner, but strong defending saw Bratniak able to clear away the danger.
Moments after, the Dragoons spurned a glorious chance to reduce the deficit. Brilliant frontline pressing saw Enrico Forabosco win possession high up the pitch. The Italian came forward and picked out Święcicki in space on the right side of the box. The Polish winger took a touch, but Bratniak keeper Krystian Blak raced off his line to close the angle and got down well to save Święcicki’s shot at the near post.
Forabosco stepped up to take the corner and the ball bounced once before hitting the side-netting. The set-piece just about summed up the Dragoons’ first half performance so far.
With under five minutes of the half left, a free-kick presented the Dragoons with a crossing opportunity. Forabosco whipped the ball into the box, but no Dragoons man attacked the cross, with Blak coming and clutching it out of the air.
It could easily have been four for Bratniak in the 42nd minute. Michal Nowak misplaced a pass and Bratniak went straight on the break. The attacker knocked the ball past the advanced Obyrtacz and looked to have a clean run-on goal. However, Josh Dawson came to the rescue, showing good pace to get in front of his man and clear away the danger.
On the stroke of half time the Dragoons won another corner. Brian Lemmen got a head to the ball only to see it cannon back off Chandran and Bratniak clearing away. At this point, it began to look like one of those days…
Back In The Game
A second corner saw Forabosco once again whip the ball into the area. On this occasion, Josh Dawson lost his marker and sent a firm headed effort at goal. The ball squirmed through the legs of Blak and dribbled into the net for 2-3.
The whistle blew almost immediately after and the goal had given the Dragoons a much-needed lifeline.
Once again, the Expats had caused their own misery with the three goals all coming from errors. The score line flattered the visitors, but they took their chances when they had been presented to them.
Despite Bratniak starting 77-year-old right winger Andrzej Piwowarczyk, the Expats struggled to find any sort of momentum to exploit their opponents.
Into the second half, the Expats started brightly. Dawson saw a header deflect out of play, however the official pointed for a goal-kick.
More disaster almost befell the Dragoons with 51 minutes played. A corner kick for Bratniak curled into the area, missing everyone and smacking the bar. The opponents looked to work the ball back into the box, but play stopped after Nowak received the cross directly into his face.
Ash Asani had seen enough and introduced Flavio Nkola and Simon Calabrese into the game. Dutch duo Rob Smits and Brian Lemmen made way to the bench. A tactical change saw Chandran moved into the middle with the Angolan moving out wide. Barry Chowaniec also switched position, moving to the wing with Święcicki moving centrally.
The move paid dividends as Chowaniec found himself involved down the right wing immediately. The attacker looked to accelerate past an opponent but found his progress halted by a foul. Forabosco lined up the free-kick, but floated the ball harmlessly into the grasp of Blak between the posts.
Święcicki came close to grabbing a goal in the 64th minute. The attacker got a head onto a Forabosco corner, but Bratniak cleared away the effort as it went towards goal.
Flavio Nkola compounded the Dragoons misery on 71 minutes. The Angolan mistimed a shot, sending it skywards. The Expats players stood around as the ball came down with snow on it and kept into play. Angry shouts from the Dragoons coaching staff showed their frustration at the side.
The Dragoons continued to come forward, but had to rely on set-pieces for chances at goal. Another Forabosco corner saw the ball skim off Chowaniec’s head and fly away from goal. The ball came back across goal and this time Dawson rushed a headed effort wide.
Chowaniec began making life difficult for the Bratniak backline following the tactical change. The forward played a neat one-two with Święcicki, but found himself chopped down en route to goal.
Enrico Forabosco lined up the free-kick in a good shooting position. The midfielder curled an effort at goal, but a lack of pace on the shot saw Blak save comfortably.
Captain Mark Szczesnowicz and Święcicki made way shortly after with Ceri Looker and Alexey Zelenkin entering the pitch.
Nkola showed lighting quick footwork to escape the attentions of the Bratniak defence midway through the half. The Angolan played the ball across the six-yard box but a lack of men near the goal saw the danger easily cleared.
The Dragoons had seen almost all of the ball in the second half, but a free-kick for Bratniak gave the visitors breathing space. Despite the set-piece being from a considerable range, the visitors attempted a shot that whistled over the bar.
On 81 minutes, the Expats levelled the score to 3-3 with a goal made in Italy. Of course, it came from a set-piece! Forabosco whipped in a corner and Simon Calabrese stooped to nod the ball into the net off the post.
— Krakow Dragoons FC (@DragoonsFc) September 25, 2022
The Dragoons buoyed by the goal came flying forward looking for the winner. An intricate through-pass from Chandran found the run of Ambrosie down the right flank. The Romanian showed great ability to get to the ball first and round his man by the goal-line. He pulled the ball back to Chowaniec who looked odds on to score, only for an excellent block deny the Pole.
With numbers depleted at the back, Bratniak went on the counter. With the numerical advantage, the visitors looked to get the ball to the right side of goal where two men waited. Dawson read the pass and brilliantly won back possession for his side. The centre-back pressed forward and played a sublime ball into the path of Nowak down the left.
The Dragoons left-back whipped in a lovely low teasing cross into the box. Barry Chowaniec got across his man well and tapped the ball beyond Blak for his fourth goal of the season, sending the Dragoons fans into raptures. Unbelievably, the Expats had provided late drama once again and turned the game on its head with just two minutes left to play.
— Krakow Dragoons FC (@DragoonsFc) September 25, 2022
Asani looked to preserve the lead and introduced the tireless worker Szymon Urzędowski and Emre Çolakoğlu, withdrawing Ambrosie and Forabosco.
Bratniak looked to pile the pressure on the Expats backline, but they held firm each time. Despite six minutes of injury time being played, the Dragoons held on to record their first victory of the season.
In fairness, the Dragoons have played good football this season and have failed to win. An awful first half saw a performance littered with errors and Bratniak had not needed to work hard for their lead.
A much improved second half had seen the side toil, but take their chances when needed. It certainly was not pretty, but showed the determination, ability and grit required to compete at this level. After the victory, the Dragoons find themselves in 9th position, nine points behind league leaders Iskra Krzęcin.
Next week will provide a tough test as the Dragoons travel to face Tramwaj Krakow. The sides previously met in the Polski Puchar with Tramwaj winning the tie via penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Tramwaj are currently in 6th position in the table with 10 points. They have won three games, drawn once and their only defeat came at home to table-toppers Iskra.
Hopefully the Dragoons can cut out the silly errors and start climbing the table!