After the postponement of the original match, the Dragoons travelled to Wieliczka to face Gajowianka Gaj and former Dragoon original Alessandro Soso for the rearranged fixture on a balmy Tuesday evening.
With the games coming thick and fast the Dragoons faced a few selection changes as per usual. Josh Dawson returned to the team and replaced Piotr Hajnrych at left back. Miraculously, the backline remained otherwise unchanged!
There was also two attacking changes to the line up following the Borek defeat, both being enforced. Alessio Sassini’s fourth yellow card of the season saw the Italian assassin suspended, with Yuri Samyonov coming into the team as his replacement. Jamie Beattie also missed out through injury with Błażej Święcicki taking his place on the right flank.
A swift start saw both sides looking to get an early advantage. The ball ping ponged around both boxes before the first chance on target came for the home side on 5 minutes. A corner came flying high across goal, with Josh Dawson rising highest. The Englishman got a firm head to the ball, but could only send it up in the air. A Gajowianka head got to the second ball first, with the following headed attempt landing into the arms of Obyrtacz.
Down the other end a minute later, Święcicki linked well with Urzędowski, releasing the full back down the wing. Urzędowski got down to the by-line and saw his attempted cross cut out for a corner. Enrico Forabosco whipped in the following set piece, high and towards the back post. Kuba Drobny met the ball with his head, but could not direct his effort on target.
Slow Burning Start
As the early stages progressed, the Dragoons struggled to impress their passing style of play to get into the final third. Gajowianka had the better territorial play, but lacked the final ball to find a way past a strong Expats defence.
The Dragoons started to get back into the game and an exquisite Forabosco long pass found Święcicki on the right wing. The Polish attacker sent a fizzing ball across the 6 yard box, which proved too hot for Marek Staszczak to handle in the Gajowianka goal. Unfortunately, a lack of Dragoons bodies attacking the box allowed the hosts clear away the danger.
With the Dragoons starting to settle into the game, they had to be aware of counter attacks. On one such occasion, the hosts played good football to get down the left wing. The following dangerous cross just evaded a Gajowianka head and the Dragoons stood firm defensively to shepherd away the ball from the penalty box.
Almost immediately after, the Dragoons took the lead with 24 minutes of the game played. Simon Calabrese got a foot in the tackle to knock the ball to Mark Szczesnowicz. The Australian skipper got his head up and found Rohit Chandran in space on the halfway line. The Indian whirlwind jinked his way infield, beating two men before passing to Forabosco, who immediately picked out Święcicki on the wing. Chandran continued his run, to creep into the right side of the penalty box and raced onto a pass from the Polish winger.
The mercurial attacker dropped his shoulder to beat an opponent and pulled the ball back from the goal line, straight into the path of Święcicki’s run. The Dragoons cult hero gobbled up the opportunity, side-footing a shot into an unguarded goal for 1-0. A really well worked goal by the Expats and a second of the season for Święcicki.
A back and forth game, the Dragoons began to gradually see more of the ball. Gajowianka struggled to find the ability to break down the Expats as the visitors began to control proceedings.
Pass & Move = Goal – 2-0 Dragoons
Eventually, the Dragoons made their class tell with a second goal on 37 minutes. Josh Dawson stepped out of defence to take control of the loose ball high in the Expats half, immediately picking out Chandran in space ahead of him. The Indian whirlwind evaded a challenge and continued forward, shifting a pass out wide to Święcicki.
The Dragoons first goal scorer took a touch, before putting a teasing cross into the box. Chandran raced beyond the defence to get onto the ball, taking it into his control with his first touch, before utilising a lightning second touch to lash it past the stranded Staszczak and into the net. Another well worked goal to further the lead to 2-0, on Chandran’s landmark 50th appearance.
As the half progressed, the Dragoons professionally navigated their way to the break. Gajowianka struggled to get their foot on the ball and could not work any chances. The Expats passed the ball around nicely, keeping possession to see the half out with their two goal lead intact.
Whilst the Dragoons had struggled to put their trademark stamp on the game early on, they slowly began to take control. They had not created too many clearcut opportunities, however, had found the net twice to go into the break ahead. Gajowianka had the ball in good areas at times, but found it difficult to breakdown a disciplined Dragoons defence.
Into the second half, the Dragoons looked to immediately dominate the ball. With 49 minutes played, they almost made their domination pay dividends, coming close to a third goal. Following a Dragoons corner, Calabrese cut out a long ball attempt and prodded to Chandran on the halfway line. The playmaker drove into space and picked out Forabosco in acres of space on the left flank.
The midfield magician made his way down the line, looked up, spying the darting run of Samyonov into the box. Forabosco put the ball into the box, straight into the path of the Israeli forward. Samyonov struck firmly first-time, however, spanked the ball straight at Staszczak who saved with his legs.
As the second half progressed, the game began to get a little scrappy. Neither side could keep possession for sustained periods, with sloppy passing affecting the game. With the Dragoons sitting deeper in their own half, Gajowianka began to start getting bodies higher up the pitch.
Gajowianka had their first real opportunity of the game on 57 minutes. Kamil Godocha timed his run well, running onto a long ball in between Calabrese and Drobny. Godocha produced a great touch to take the ball under control, however, made a poor connection to shoot tamely at Obyrtacz, with the Expats defensive pair breathing down his neck.
Having gained some momentum, the hosts continued to press forward. Another long pass from inside the Dragoons half picked out Grzegorz Chmiołek on the edge of the box. The Gajowianka midfielder touched the ball into space before lacing a fierce drive straight down the throat of Obyrtacz.
A double change from the Dragoons saw Joaquin Serrano and Michał Nowak introduced in attempt to re-establish control of the game. Szymon Urzędowski and Błażej Święcicki made way to applause, with the Polish pair putting in a great shift down the Dragoons right flank.
Serrano got himself immediately involved on 65 minutes after good defensive work by the Expats. Mark Szczesnowicz intercepted a heavy touch and passed to Calabrese ahead of him. The centre back then played the ball to Forabosco in space in the middle of the park to start a counter attack. Forabosco burst into the Gajowianka half, with Serrano sprinting wide into space. The Italian found the Spanish sensation on the edge of the box, who cut onto his favoured left foot, but spanked his shot well wide of the target.
Gajowianka continued to utilise the long ball, and it almost paid off as the Dragoons defence allowed the ball to bounce. The Expats struggled to keep possession and Kamil Gadocha looked to take advantage, letting fly with a vicious attempt from range. Fortunately for the visitors, the effort arrowed just over Obyrtacz’s cross bar.
Further sloppy football by the Dragoons saw another shot come at goal. On this occasion, former Dragoon Alessandro Soso intercepted the ball high up the pitch and came forward. Like Gadocha before him, the Italian blasted a shot from range, but again failed to trouble the target.
Did He Mean It?!?!
Straight from the following goal-kick the Dragoons went onto the offensive. Drobny took the ball from Obyrtacz and laid it off to Nowak at right back. Nowak found Forabosco free in the centre of the park, with the Italian turning and immediately releasing Samyonov. The Israeli broke the offside trap to break into the Gajowianka box. Samyonov spotted the run of Chandran at the far post, but miscued the cross and could only watch as the ball spun back off the post, with Soso clearing the danger.
The hosts continued to apply pressure on the Dragoons and won a free-kick out wide on 72 minutes. A cross came into the box bouncing awkwardly and just avoided an outstretched boot as the Expats two goal lead remained intact.
On 75 minutes, Yuri Samyonov made way with Andrea Latino coming onto the pitch. The Italian had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds before putting the ball into the net. Drobny went long down the right to pick out Nowak, who pulled a pass back to Serrano. The Spaniard played a through ball to Latino who applied the finish, however the substitute striker had strayed offside in the build up.
Undeterred, the Dragoons notched their third goal on 77 minutes to make the game safe. With Gajowianka pushing forward in search of a goal, spaces began to appear in their back line. Forabosco played a long ball to exploit the flank, with Szczesnowicz winning a throw by the corner flag. Michał Nowak picked the ball up and launched a humungous throw into the penalty area. The throw arrowed to the back post where Josh Dawson rose highest to plant a header into the net for 3-0.
Three became four, just two minutes later as the Dragoons effectively killed off the Gajowianka resistance. The home side could not clear their lines with Kuba Drobny taking control of the ball in the middle of the pitch. Drobny sprayed a low pass out wide to put Serrano in possession. The Spanish sensation cut inside an opponent before hitting a shot from the edge of the box, which bounced horribly off the turf in front of Staszczak at the near post and nestled into the net.
With the game in the bag, the Dragoons made a triple change. Michael Lamb, Eduordo Battaglion, and Piotr Hajnrych entered the game with Kuba Drobny, Enrico Forabosco and Josh Dawson departing.
On 86 minutes, the Dragoons drove the dagger further into their foe, by notching a fifth goal in comical fashion. With defensive discipline all but gone in the home side, the Dragoons looked to exploit the backline. A last ditch clearance by the hosts, saw the ball put out of play for a throw. Nowak armed his missile launching arms and sent the ball arching into the Gajowianka penalty box once again. It looked like it would be an easy catch for Staszczak, who called for the ball and left his line to collect. As Tadek Dudek attempted to duck underneath the ball, it inadvertently bounced off the back of his head, over his own keeper and into the net.
The referee put a shell-shocked home side out of their misery shortly after with the full time whistle.
It had been a good performance from the Expats, who had not really needed to get out of first gear. Gajowianka threatened at times, but severely lack the quality to apply pressure on the Dragoons defence.
The Expats marshalled their opponents well and restricted them to shots from range. Excellent pass and move football between Święcicki and Chandran gave the Dragoons the upper hand going into the break. Despite some sloppiness in the second half, the Dragoons maintained their dominance on the game.
Just as Gajowianka looked to be finding a little bit of life, the Expats introduced Nowak and Serrano into the fray. The move helped the visitors’ ascendency, with both being heavily involved with the three second half goals.
It was not a classic performance by all means, but the Dragoons victory ensures that they can finish no lower than 8th.
With no more home games remaining this season, the Expats once again take to their travels next Saturday. This time the Dragoons will take on KS Podgórze, who count former Dragoons captain Gonçalo Rodrigues and goalkeeper Paulo Fernandes amongst their ranks.
Podgórze find themselves in 10th position, eleven points behind the Dragoons. They have won 7, drawn twice and lost 15 times so far this season with 40 goals scored and 61 conceded.
In the previous fixture this season, the Dragoons secured a comprehensive 6-3 victory. A quiet opening to the game burst into life after 22 minutes. Angolan goal-getter Flavio Nkola smashed an effort from outside of the box to give the Expats the lead.
The Dragoons hit an immediate 2nd, with Nkola turning provider for Alessio Sassini to double the lead. The currently injured Nkola capped off a marvellous first half, notching a third goal on the stroke of half time.
Into the second half, Podgórze grabbed two quickfire goals to reduce the deficit to 3-2 and give them hope of a comeback. The hopes faded with 15 minutes left to play as Michael Lamb had a debut to remember, coming off the bench to bundle home a corner to double the lead. Flavio Nkola notched a third for his hat-trick soon after, before Podgórze hit back with a consolatory third goal. The Expats had the final word in the final stages of the game, as Andrea Latino scored a tap in to end the scoring.