Victory at Last!
An unseasonably warm November morning saw the Dragoons welcome the visit of Płomień Kościelec with both sides looking to end 3 match losing runs. Following the defeat against Victoria Smroków the week previous, the Dragoons made 4 changes to the line up.
Marcin Obyrtacz continued in goal, with Szymon Urzędowski and Simon Calabrese starting in place of right back Roman Bilovol and Sasha Arshakian. Kuba Drobny continued to partner Calabrese in central defence and Piotr Hajnrych started a consecutive match at left back.
An injury suffered a week previous saw Enrico Forabosco miss the game with Ayoub Chardal lining up in midfield. Brian Lemmen and Rohit Chandran continued in the middle alongside the Moroccan marvel.
In attack, Alessio Sassini and Martin Voženílek kept their places with Yuri Samyonov coming into the side for the unavailable Vałdzis Fuhaš.
The Dragoons almost got off to a flying start in just 30 seconds as Martin Voženílek intercepted a poor pass to accelerated into the box. Voženílek found himself with just goalkeeper Kamil Ryńca to beat, but side-footed an attempt straight at the keeper to save.
In only the 3rd minute, Alessio Sassini played an excellent defence splitting pass to put Rohit Chandran through on goal. With just Ryńca to beat and the whole goal to aim for, Chandran elected to try and find Samyonov. Unfortunately, the Indian’s selflessness did not pay dividends as a defender easily cut out the pass.
Another excellent chance fell to the Expats after just 6 minutes of the game. Exceptional pressing from Sassini saw the Italian dispossess an opponent and sprint towards goal. The striker entered the box, shifted the ball onto his right foot, but blasted his shot high and wide whilst under pressure from a covering defender.
That Was Not In The Script…
Despite complete domination of the ball, the Dragoons fell behind through Płomień’s very first attack. Yuri Samyonov lost possession on the halfway line, as full-back Adrian Kaczor poked the ball forward off the Israeli’s toes. The ball ran down the line beyond Hajnrych as the visitors broke away with a numerical advantage against the Dragoons defence. Płomień winger Daniel Nowak exploited the space driving into the box against a standoffish defence, cutting onto his left foot to find an angle and finishing tidily past Obyrtacz to give the visitors a 9th minute lead.
The Dragoons almost found an instant riposte with a great chance in the 11th minute. Good play saw Sassini receive the ball, with Simon Calabrese threading a nice pass through the midfield into the striker’s feet. Sassini showed great awareness and a neat flick into Samyonov, who passed back to the striker. Sassini nutmegged a defender as Samyonov continued his forward run to find himself with the ball and in on goal. The Israeli struck a first-time shot from 11 metres out, but tamely stroked the ball straight at Ryńca to save.
One way traffic continued as the Dragoons controlled possession to create further chances. A foul on Drobny midway inside the Płomień half gave the Expats a free-kick in an awkward central position 40 metres from goal. Ayoub Chardal lifted the ball over the opposition wall to find the excellent run of Sassini, but the usually deadly striker failed to make a good connection and it ran through to Ryńca to gather.
Off the Post
Moments after, Płomień tried passing it out from the back and Samyonov showed good alertness to intercept a poor pass. The attacker cut the ball back to Chardal in space, roughly 35 metres from goal. The Moroccan marvel struck a vicious low, dipping effort at goal that beat Ryńca all ends up, but struck the post and bounced back into play.
Płomień had an excellent opportunity to double their lead in the 25th minute in calamitous circumstances. Under pressure from Hubert Przebieracz, Dragoons defender Simon Calabrese panicked in possession and struck Ayoub Chardal with an attempted long-pass. The ball dropped into the path of Igor Łanecki, who passed into Przebieracz in the space left behind by the Italian. Marcin Obyrtacz came flying off his line to close the ball down, with Przebieracz going wide in an attempt to round the advancing keeper. With the angle tightening, the Płomień forward hit a shot towards goal but could only find the side-netting. The visitors continued to exert pressure as the Expats seemed to lose their nerve and continued to give away possession.
At the 30 minute mark, the Expats’ profligacy in front of goal continued. An excellent cross into the box looked destined to find the head of Sassini. Unbelievably, the striker with the sun in his eyes, stooped underneath the cross as the ball struck his shoulder and bounced harmlessly out of play. The usually deadly Italian had shown excellent movement to get into dangerous positions, but had thus far struggled to find the finishing touch in front of goal.
Dragoons Equaliser – Finally!
Undeterred, the Dragoons continued to come forward and finally got their reward from a corner on 33 minutes. Ayoub Chardal curled a low cross into the box, with Kuba Drobny reacting quickest to get to the ball first. Statuesque marking allowed the Polish centre-back to hook an effort towards goal that dropped into the net to bring the score to 1-1. A deserved equaliser for the Expats and first goal of the season for Drobny.
Two minutes later, excellent football almost saw the Dragoons complete the turnaround. Quick passing from the back advanced the Expats forward with Ayoub Chardal receiving the ball from Chandran. The Moroccan spied the forward run of Sassini and put a lofted pass into the striker’s path. Sassini provided an excellent first touch to take the pass out of the air, but failed to make a good connection on his left-footed shot, placing his head into his hands as the ball bobbled wide of the post.
Płomień Exert The Pressure
Not long after, poor defending by the Expats saw Płomień with a chance to retake the lead. With Piotr Hajnrych caught high up the field, the visitors looked to exploit the space with two opponents breaking. A great pass forward found one of them, as Daniel Nowak timed his run well to perfection to find himself beyond Calabrese and through on goal. Obyrtacz left his line quickly to close the space, forcing Nowak to shoot early. Making himself look big, the move paid dividends as Nowak’s shot struck the stopper’s foot and bounced clear.
The danger continued for the Dragoons as the recycled ball came into the box, forcing Drobny to head clear. Chardal looked to take the clearance out of the air, but a heavy touch under pressure saw the ball run to Przebieracz. The Płomień number 9 struck a shot from range, but the effort sailed straight into the grateful grasp of Obyrtacz.
A Calamitous Collapse
Into the 38th minute, the Dragoons failed to heed the warning signs as lackadaisical play saw Płomień go 2-1 ahead. A catalogue of errors lead to the goal, starting with the Dragoons advanced high up the pitch. Chardal’s poor misplaced pass saw the ball quickly played into Łanecki’s feet. Drobny found himself on the wrong side of the attacker, who turned and evaded the desperate lunge by the defender. With teammates breaking either side of him, Łanecki elected to pass out wide finding the run of Kaczor. The right-back made his way into the box and slid the ball across goal into the path of the onrushing Bartek Kutela to smash the ball high into the unguarded net as the visitors went back into the lead.
Three minutes later, Płomień came a whisker away from doubling their advantage. The visitors exploited the Dragoons poor defensive positioning again, with Adrian Kaczor heavily involved once more. A ball down the Expats left side saw the full-back rampaging down the wing, entering the corner of the area. On this occasion, Kaczor decided to go for goal himself and lashed a ferocious shot narrowly over the crossbar.
The Genius of Cruz
In an attempt to give the Dragoons some protection on their left flank, Hugo Cruz made the decision to switch Martin Voženílek as Yuri Samyonov moved over to the right wing. It would prove to be a masterstroke from the Portuguese tactician with the Expats levelling the scores on 43 minutes.
As the home side went on the offensive, a defensive clearance saw Drobny move into midfield to obtain possession. The defender found himself on the byline inside the Płomień half and launched the ball towards the area. Miscommunication in the visitors’ defence saw Kamil Ryńca venture off his line in an attempt to get to the ball, however centre back Mateusz Machnik stretched to get there first. Machnik’s attempted headed clearance landed kindly to the feet of Voženílek inside the penalty box and the Czech winger nonchalantly guided a first-time volley with the inside of his foot into the unguarded net for 2-2.
The half time whistle soon sounded with the scoreline level. Płomień had failed to see much possession, but had found joy in exploiting the Dragoons with pace. Whilst the visitors struggled to see much of the ball, they took their opportunities well when given an opening. The Expats on the other hand appeared nervous in possession and missed a hatful of chances. On the balance of play, the Dragoons had been the better side despite their deficiencies and should have gone into the break with the lead.
Hugo Cruz shuffled his pack at half time making one change to introduce Salah Missi for Piotr Hajnrych at left back.
The first opportunity of the second period fell to the Dragoons with three minutes of the half played. Rohit Chandran received a pass from Drobny and went on one of his trademark winding runs. The playmaker shifted the ball into the corner of the box, where Sassini peeled away, taking a touch to set himself and shooting powerfully over the crossbar.
Płomień Dominate The Early Stages
A late tackle by Calabrese gave Płomień a free-kick on the corner of the Dragoons’ penalty area on 52 minutes. Krzysztof Bździuła stepped up to shoot direct at goal, but saw his effort sail high and wide of the target.
Bździuła found himself involved once again a minute later as Płomień continued to pressure the Dragoons back line. Kaczor received a pass down the Dragoons left, cutting inside and hurdling an attempted challenge by Voženílek. Kaczor passed to Bździuła and the visiting midfield sent a low shot at goal from outside the box. The effort failed to seriously trouble Obyrtacz in the Dragoons goal however, with the stopper making a routine diving save.
An inauspicious start to the second half by the Dragoons continued as Chandran aggressively chased down an opponent. The Indian slid into a challenge to commit a foul on the edge of the box earning himself a booking. Krzysztof Bździuła stepped up for a second time and on this occasion curled a shot just wide of the goal.
The Dragoons began to find their feet and had the ball in the net for a third time on the hour. Delightful one-touch play saw the Expats switch the ball from left to right to put Urzędowski in possession. The right-back swung a cross into the danger zone, where Sassini lurked unmarked. The Italian got to the ball ahead of Ryńca in the Płomień goal, planting a header into the net, but saw his celebrations end abruptly due to a flag from the referee’s assistant on the side.
Just a minute later, the Expats found themselves down to ten men. A quickly taken free-kick caught the Dragoons defence out as Bartek Kutela looked to steal a march on Drobny. The Polish defender took a slight grab of the winger’s shoulder as he accelerated past, with Kutela instantly hitting the deck. The referee immediately blew his whistle and produced a straight red card to send Drobny for an early bath.
Płomień almost instantly made the most of their numerical advantage to go back in front. Ayoub Chardal picked up possession inside his own penalty box and attempted to drive forward. The Moroccan saw his attempted pass to Chandran cut out by Krzysztof Bździuła, who had time and space to run into. The midfielder used the run of Kutela to his left as a decoy, luring Brian Lemmen into an attempted challenge. Bździuła skipped past the Dutchman’s outstretched leg, leaving Calabrese exposed with a second attacker to his left. The Italian stood his ground well forcing Bździuła to shoot and fortune smiled on the Dragoons as the ball dropped wide.
End to End Action
Almost immediately down the other end, the Dragoons produced a great chance in the 64th minute. The Expats won the ball in the visitors half and Samyonov showed an exquisite touch to find Sassini. The Italian excellently shielded the ball and timed his pass to perfection to find the run of Urzędowski. The Polish full-back ran onto the ball inside the area, taking a touch rather than shooting first time. The touch caused Urzędowski to lose momentum, but he eventually managed to work an attempt that flew over the target.
Down the other end, a remarkable 10 minute spell almost ended in complete disaster for the Dragoons. From their own goal-kick, Calabrese received the ball from Obyrtacz and passed it straight to Igor Łanecki. The attacker immediately shot back at goal, but thankfully sent a woeful attempt high over the goal.
Hugo Cruz had seen enough and introduced club hero Błażej Święcicki for Urzędowski and withdrew Samyonov for Sasha Arshakian.
STOP. CONCEDING. FREE. KICKS…
With 20 minutes left to play, Arshakian attempted to burst out of his own half and lost possession to Nowak. The Płomień attacker cut inside off the wing and ran through the centre of the pitch unchallenged. Nowak continued infield, but a shirt pull from Chardal saw his progress ended and the Moroccan went into the book. Bździuła stood over his third set-piece of the game, but failed to trouble Obyrtacz by curling his shot over the bar.
As the minutes ticked by, despite being down to 10 men, the Dragoons still managed to create chances. Neither Sassini nor Voženílek could find the target however.
Into the last 15 minutes a trip from Chardal gave the visitors another shooting chance just outside the penalty area. Daniel Nowak stepped up on this occasion, but his drilled effort lacked the pace to trouble Obyrtacz. Shortly after, Chardal trudged off the pitch to avoid a second booking with Tarek Boufaniza joining the action.
Płomień continued to make their advantage count with a short goal-kick ending up at the feet of Nowak. The winger received the ball inside his own half and used his pace to penetrate deep into the final third. With his route to goal blocked, Nowak passed out wide and a high cross came into the Dragoons box. Arshakian got under the ball but failed to get any distance on his header with it falling to Mateusz Stopiński. Fortunately, the fierce incoming first-time drive by Stopiński saw Obyrtacz save with relative ease.
The Assassin Strikes
With the game entering its final stages, the Dragoons started to find an extra gear despite their inferior number. After a Płomień attack broke down, the Expats moved the ball quickly to get up the pitch. Brian Lemmen showed calmness personified to dribble into the visitors half and found Salah Missi in acres of space. The Algerian looked up and spotted the run of the tireless Sassini screaming and waving for the ball. Missi sent a floated pass with laser-guided accuracy straight into the path of the Italian who controlled the ball with a killer touch. Time seemed to stand still as the Italian assassin waited for the perfect moment for the ball to settle, before calmly lashing a shot beyond Ryńca and into the back of the net to put the Expats ahead for the first time in the game.
Any thought of the goal galvanising Płomień disappeared immediately as the Dragoons continued to get forward. A long aimless punt from Calabrese saw Missi challenge for the ball in the air and eventually winning a corner. A short corner from Chandran put the ball into Missi, who curled an inviting cross into the 6 yard box. Sassini ran through a crowd of bodies to get his head to the ball first, guiding a header towards goal. This time however, Ryńca positioned himself well to stop the ball with his leg to deny Sassini a second goal.
The Dragoons remarkably continued to erroneously keep bodies forward and almost paid the price in the final minute. Daniel Nowak burst forward, energetically sprinting into the Expats half on the counter. He laid a pass out wide to find Igor Łanecki on his right, with the winger running into the box. An attempted shot from a tight angle came at the Dragoons goal but failed to cause Obyrtacz a great deal of trouble.
Marcin the Saviour
The Dragoons looked destined to be creators of their own downfall as they effortlessly gifted possession back to the visitors and Krzysztof Bździuła produced a perfect through-pass in behind the Expats defence to put Kutela on goal. Kutela seemed to wait an ungodly amount of time to shoot, allowing Obyrtacz to race off his line to close the gap. The keeper came to the Dragoons’ rescue, spreading himself to block the eventual effort with Święcicki completing the clearance.
Unbelievably, the Dragoons continued to fail to see the game out professionally with Boufaniza fortunate to not concede possession. An attacker got a foot on the Algerian’s attempted pass to Arshakian and the ball fortunately ran through to Obyrtacz.
Dragoons Score a Fourth!!!!
A long hoof forward from the Dragoons stopper saw the ball land kindly at the feet of Voženílek and the Czech winger pulled off skill that the late great Johan Cruyff would have been proud of to get away from an opponent. Voženílek darted down the wing into space and rather inexplicitly headed towards goal than play for time in the corner. It proved to be an inspired move however, as he picked out Missi free inside the area. The Algerian side-footed a scintillating first-time effort that moved wickedly through the air and nestled into the net to put the 10 man Dragoons 4-2 ahead.
Still the Dragoons pressed forward with the game deep in injury time. Missi just failed to reach a through-pass, but kept the ball in play to win a corner. The Expats played it short and yet again, chose to send the ball into the box towards Sassini. A defensive header fell towards Święcicki, who lived up to his name by blazing his volley into the car park.
90th Minute Mayhem!
From the goal-kick, Płomień scored a third to reduce the deficit in a quite incredible end to the game. With the Dragoons defensive line stupidly high, a simply floated pass from the excellent Nowak found Kutela sprinting freely into the Expats half with gay abandon. With the Dragoons defence on his tail, Kutela let fly with a shot from range. The ball sailed over Obyrtacz’s outstretched hand, cannoned off the underside of the bar, across the line and back against the bar. The Dragoons keeper clutched the bouncing ball, however, the official on the side-line waved his flag to give the goal.
With the score now showing 4-3 you would expect the 10 men of the Expats to see the game out. Oh no, quite the opposite happened as the Dragoons nervously panicked and gave the ball straight to Płomień. The visitors needed no invitation to break forward to get in behind the Expats defence. Thankfully the Dragoons managed to marshal Nowak well to win the ball back and Missi cleared the ball towards Sassini.
As the ball flew through the air towards the striker, the relief of the final whistle gave the Dragoons victory. A welcome fourth victory for the Expats who remain in 8th position in the league table.
If ever there was a get out of jail free card, this was probably it. An error stricken performance saw the Expats miss glorious opportunities in the first half. The roles reversed in the second half however, as the Dragoons took their chances and Płomień simply did not.
Hugo Cruz’s fine head of hair must have been in danger multiple times with the Dragoons’ clumsy display. The team played well in periods but could not stop conceding possession in dangerous areas. The Portuguese made a good change at half-time as the Dragoons struggled to contain the threat down their left side.
The sending off of Drobny seemed to give a fresh impetus to the team in their march to 3 points. It is pleasing to see the boys put up a fight to win as heads could easily have gone down. They played fairly well with 10 men, arguably better than with 11! But yet again another disappointment is a further late goal conceded, which should have been avoidable.
In previous games, the Dragoons have played rather well and lost, so it makes for a nice change to win with a mediocre performance!