League Leaders Held
A pleasant autumn Sunday afternoon saw the Dragoons travel to league leaders Galicja Raciborowice. The hosts had blown away all opposition so far this season with five wins in five, leaving the Expats with a difficult task.
Fresh from their 2-0 home defeat to Ekler Baranówka the week previous and with Hugo Cruz away, Scott Halcrow took charge of the team for the first time this season.
Injury to Gabi Muñoz saw Marcin Obyrtacz start for the first time this season in goal. Another first start of the season and welcome return saw Josh Dawson back in the team, following a nasty arm break suffered last season. The Englishman started at left back, with Sasha Arshakian moving back into his usual centre back role next to Kuba Drobny. Roman Bilovol continued at right back as Simon Calabrese dropped down to the bench.
Corneille Malonga, Rohit Chandran and Emre Çolakoğlu continued in an unchanged midfield, with Taye Johnson replacing Martin Voženílek being the only other personnel change. Ayoub Chardal started a second consecutive game with Yuri Samyonov keeping his place in attack to complete the line up.
The Dragoons kicked off the game on a carpet of a pitch and both sides looked to get a feel of the ball. A good interception by stand-in captain Kuba Drobny, set the Expats forward in the first attack of the game. Drobny found Taye Johnson out wide, with the South African speedster cutting inside to pass to Chandran. The Indian whirlwind saw his return pass cut out, but the loose ball fell to Ayoub Chardal. A speculative ball came into the box from the Moroccan, however it ran straight through to Tomasz Misiak in the Galicja goal.
Both sides showed attacking intent, with the next chance of the game coming the way of hosts in the 7th minute. A deep cross towards the box, saw the Dragoons only partially clear their lines. A beautifully struck effort from Damien Lis came towards the Expats goal and zipped inches wide.
Two minutes later, the Dragoons conceded a free-kick giving the hosts a shooting opportunity. Kamil Kupiec struck an effort towards goal, however, the ball dropped wide of Obyrtacz’s right post.
Galicja Score First
From the goal-kick, the hosts won the ball high up the field and scored a 10th minute opener. Paweł Jędryas got to Obyrtacz’s kick first, playing it forward into Paweł Jarosz to control. A neat reverse pass beyond the Dragoons defence saw Damian Lis strike a first-time effort from the edge of the box, low into the net for 1-0.
Straight after the goal, the Expats lost possession in midfield and a long pass saw Jędryas escape the attention of Chardal. The winger swung a cross towards the far post where Grzegorz Anioł stood unmarked. The burly centre-forward had the whole goal to aim for in front of him, but sent his header just over the crossbar, much to the relief of the Dragoons.
After a fast paced opening 10 minutes, the game turned into an interesting battle where both defences came on top. Galicja looked to make use of long balls into the flanks and Dragoons the box. Meanwhile, the Expats attempted to get the ball on the deck and open spaces up by keeping possession. Neither side could really make the ball stick as both defences cancelled each other out.
Almost a Second…
The next chance of the game did not come until the 31st minute. Galicja won a free-kick on the right side of the pitch, midway inside the Dragoons’ half. A high ball came into the Dragoons box and Anioł rose highest to nod the ball at goal. It looked as if the ball would creep in at the near post, but Obyrtacz showed smart reactions to throw himself down to his right to keep it out with his fingertips.
Galicja looked to be seeing more of the ball in dangerous areas as the half progressed but a sturdy Dragoons defence stood up to the challenge, getting bodies in the way of shots to protect their goal.
Just as the screw appeared to be turning in the home-sides favour, the Dragoons equalised in the 35th minute. Roman Bilovol cut out a long ball forward and sent it back skyward over the home defence. A back-peddling defender misjudged the bounce of the ball, with Taye Johnson using his pace to apply pressure to the Galicja man. The hosts could only half clear the ball as the Dragoons pressed high up the pitch.
Bilovol headed a second half clearance into the path of Chardal, in space, 20 metres from goal. The Moroccan marvel found space to turn and sent a shot at goal that moved wickedly through the air. Misiak dived to the left to push the ball onto the post, however, the Dragoons fox in the box Yuri Samyonov reacted quickest to dash unchallenged into the area and tuck the rebound into an unguarded net to level the score to 1-1.
With five minutes left of the half to play, Josh Dawson cut out a deep cross. The defender took the ball down on his chest and burst forward through a completely empty midfield. Dawson released a pass to Chardal out wide and the Moroccan cut inside but failed to hit the target with his shot.
Straight down the other end, a successful long pass found Paweł Jarosz in behind the Dragoons defence. Sasha Arshakian closed down the Galicja attacker and Jarosz’s attempted cross struck the Ukrainian on the arm. The official in the middle pointed to the spot immediately to give the hosts a chance to reclaim the lead.
Jarosz stepped up to take the penalty himself and made no mistake in sending Obyrtacz the wrong way to bring the score to 2-1 with 42 minutes on the clock.
No further chances of note fell to either side as a half of contrasting styles came to an end. An entertaining game had seen the Dragoons struggle to get their passing game going in dangerous areas. Whereas, Galicja looked to get the ball to the flank quickly and into the Dragoons box. Neither side had found much joy with their game plan so far leaving it the match evenly balanced despite the score.
The Dragoons first foray forward saw Emre Çolakoğlu fouled on the edge of the box to give Expats a free-kick. Ayoub Chardal stepped up to take the kick, but sent his attempted shot whistling past the crossbar.
In the 48th minute, the Dragoons had an excellent chance to level the game. Chardal picked up the loose ball just inside his own half, hurdled two challenges and found Çolakoğlu in space. The Turkish man-mountain saw an opponent bounce off him as he turned and ambled forward towards goal. As he reached shooting distance, Çolakoğlu slotted a pass into the path of Chandran, free inside the box. The Indian shot at goal first time with a finessed effort, but failed to trouble the target when well placed.
Own Worst Enemies!
Despite a positive start to the half by the Dragoons, they almost gifted Galicja a chance on 53 minutes. A poor pass saw the dangerous Jędryas slide in to intercept the ball reaching Dawson on the edge of his own box. The defender was adjudged to have fouled the winger in the process and received a yellow card for his troubles. Thankfully, the following set-piece into the box failed to threaten the Expats who cleared away from danger.
The game took on a scrappy look, with the Dragoons conceding a number of free-kicks. One such occasion saw a long range effort from Kamil Kupiec come at goal. Marcin Obyrtacz got down well however, taking the ball into his body to save with relative ease.
With 63 minutes of the game played, Chardal showed great ball control and excellent vision to pick out Çolakoğlu in the middle of the park. The midfielder had options on either flank, electing to pass Johnson to his right. The South African fizzed in a low cross into the area, which landed at the feet of Samyonov, who turned and cutback to Chardal on the edge of the box. The Moroccan struck the bobbling ball on the half volley, but could only hook a poorly connected shot wide.
An extremely open game saw both sides take it in turns to go forward. Neither side could seriously trouble each other as poor passing in the final third saw attacks break down at both ends. Both sides tried efforts from range with Galicja’s Jarosław Kania and the Dragoons’ Çolakoğlu seeing their attempts comfortably saved.
Dragoons Spot Kick!
With 20 minutes of the game left to play, the Dragoons won a spot-kick of their own. A free-kick just outside their own penalty box saw Kuba Drobny shift the ball to Dawson. The Englishman laid it forward to Johnson, who showed trickery in cutting inside and passing to Çolakoğlu. The immovable midfield man played the ball to Chandran, who looked up and spotted the run of Saymonov. The Expat’s playmaker dinked a delicate ball over the Galicja defence, with Misiak rushing out of goal to enter into a footrace with the striker. The Israeli just got to the ball first and the overcommitted keeper made a rash decision to dive at the Samyonov’s feet, felling him in the process.
The referee made no hesitation in blowing his whistle and no complaints came from the home side at the decision. In more recent times, the Dragoons have had a terrible record from the spot. But on his first start for the club, Taye Johnson picked up the ball and slotted it straight down the middle to make it 2-2.
From kick-off, Galicja came straight at the Dragoons. The ball kept on coming back at the Expats, with Kania blasting a long range shot that Obyrtacz grabbed at the second attempt.
On 72 minutes the hosts went down to 10 men with the referee brandishing a red card. A late, rash tackle on Drobny by Kamil Kupiec saw the Galicja man pick up a second yellow card.
Slowly but surely, the Dragoons started to see more of the ball and saw a great chance come in the 80th minute. Drobny played the ball into space on the right flank with Johnson getting to it first. The winger crossed into the box and a vicious bobble saw the ball bounce off a defender straight to Chandran. The Indian took a touch and laid a pass into the feet of Chardal, who duped two defenders in shaping to shoot and then miscued his eventual effort wide of the goal.
Dragoons Live Dangerously
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Galicja began to find momentum and forced a corner with 5 minutes left to play. The ball came into the Expats box and Grzegorz Anioł escaped unmarked, but failed to hit the target with his header.
A minute later, poor decision making by the Dragoons saw the ball come straight at them. A good pass into Anioł, saw the Galicja attacker fire a low cross into the Expats box. The ball evaded the Dragoons defence and ended up at the feet of Jarosław Kania, free inside the box. The attacker drilled a low shot at goal only to be denied by the last gasp dive of Obyrtacz to touch it wide.
Galicja Down to 9
With the clock ticking into the last minute, a foul throw saw Grzegorz Anioł let his frustrations boil over. The home striker smashed the ball into the fence at the side of the pitch to earn himself a yellow card. Anioł sarcastically applauded the decision and the yellow card was brandished a second time with the striker leaving the field for an early bath.
Into injury time, the Dragoons had a chance to snatch a winner at the death. Quick passing football advanced the Expats up the pitch with Chardal finding the run of Chandran. Despite being clipped inside the penalty box from a sliding tackle, the Indian continued his run until running into trouble in the 6 yard box and forcing a corner.
The Dragoons huffed and puffed in the dying seconds, but failed to create any further chances against the 9 men of the league leaders.
As time ran out, the final whistle blew with the Dragoons coming from behind twice to grab a creditable draw. The point sees the Dragoons rise to 5th position in the table, whilst Galicja keep their top spot owing to goal difference.
On the face of things it is a great point against the unbeaten top of the table side. However, the Dragoons came away frustrated that they had not come away with all three points!
Galicja had a simple game plan to get the ball to the flanks as quickly as possible and to get the ball into the box. The Expats stood up to the task in the main, keeping their discipline and shape well.
The home side just about shaded the first half, but the Dragoons got to grips with their opponents in the second. Whilst the Expats started to play better football, they still struggled at times in transitioning the ball out of midfield into attack. A lack of movement, holding the ball too long and making the wrong decision hindered the side at times. When the Dragoons did move the ball quickly, they created good goal scoring opportunities.
As the half wore on both sides looked heavy legged, and fresh legs/minds could have potentially made the difference. The Dragoons rushed possession and all too often gifted the ball back to the hosts. Despite being down to 10 men, Galicja created good goalscoring chances in the final 10 minutes, which was disappointing. It is all a learning curve however and things are not far from clicking into gear.
Football is a game of fine margins and the Dragoons are developing promising signs of improvement. Last season, the team conceded 70 goals, the 5th worst in the league. This time around, the defensive shape and organisation looks much better with the team standing up to long balls. The old age issue of mistakes leading to goals continues, but the Expats boast the joint 3rd meanest defence with 8 conceded.
Down the other end however, decision making in possession and slow build-up play is hindering the side. That said, there has been shoots of improvement recently and chances are being created. The reality is if the Dragoons took their chances this season, they would likely find themselves in a higher league position.
Bottom side Bratniak face the Dragoons next weekend in the 7th game of the season. Sharing the same home ground at Prądniczanka, the Expats have faced their next opponents on 3 previous occasions.
The first meeting came in the COVID affected 2019/20 season. A 2-1 defeat condemned the Dragoons to their first ever league defeat with Błażej Święcicki the goalscorer for the Expats.
Last season the sides locked horns once again, with the Expats coming out on top in both fixtures. The first encounter saw the Dragoons pick up their first win of the season after 5 games.
Enrico Forabosco had put the side ahead with an early goal, however, Bratniak hit back with three goals. Josh Dawson reduced the score as the Expats went into the break 3-2 down at half time. Ash Asani rang the changes for the second half and the Dragoons scored twice in the last 10 minutes through Calabrese and Chowaniec to win 4-3.
League Double Completed
A much better performance saw the Dragoons cruise to victory the last time the two teams met. It started disastrously however, as a misplaced pass saw Bratniak open the scoring after 12 minutes.
Halfway through the game, Alessio Sassini smashed a shot that went in off the underside of the bar to equalise. Shortly after, the Dragoons led the game through Martin Voženílek adding a quickfire second. Into the second half, Sassini struck twice to complete his hat-trick in a comfortable 4-1 triumph.
So far this season, Bratniak have found things tough losing five of their six matches so far. The side only have 3 points to their name this season owing to a walkover against Szreniawa Koszyce.
Bratniak also have the unwanted record of most goals conceded, with 29 being scored against them. They have grabbed 11 goals however, which is better than the Dragoons 9!
No games are easy though, and the Dragoons will have to continue to work hard to grab the 3 points.