Raptors Maul Dragoons
Prague Raptors welcomed the Dragoons to the Czech capital in the final group game of the Fenix Trophy.
The Raptors got the better of the Expats with a 5-1 win in Poland, as a strong travelling contingent making their way to Czechia in the return fixture.
Mark Szczesnowicz returned to the Dragoons line up to captain the side. The only other line up change from the Bratniak victory saw Gabi Muñoz deputise in the place of Marcin Obyrtacz.
Not An Ideal Start
The Dragoons fell behind early in the game in the fifth minute. The Dragoons lost possession deep in their own half with the Raptors Josh Fleming intercepting a pass. Fleming travelled forward and found Josh Harris James in space in the penalty box. The winger fizzed a ball across the goal, which found the head of the unmarked Ali Darvishi. The Iranian forward did exceptionally well to guide the ball into the far corner giving Muñoz no chance to save.
Following the goal, the Dragoons looked to knock the ball into space and to use the pace of Martin Voženílek down the right flank.
A corner from Enrico Forabosco saw a chance come and go for the Dragoons. He whipped the ball into the box and a Raptors defender inadvertently headed towards his own goal. However, a covering defender came to the rescue to clear away the ball.
The Dragoons began to find confidence in their attacks and had a penalty shout waved away on 22 minutes. Francesco Leuci went surging forward and flew over a challenge in the box. The referee however, produced a yellow card to book the Italian for simulation. In all probability the correct decision.
Dragoons Come Close
With 24 minutes on the clock, the Dragoons had their best chance of the half so far. A quickly taken free-kick saw Rohit Chandran attempt a cross into the box. A defender toed the ball into the air and directly into the path of Voženílek. The Dragoons Czech national attempted a looped header over the keeper’s head, but could only put the ball over the bar.
Raptors Add A Second
Despite playing some good football in an even game, the Expats fell further behind on 27 minutes. Raptors danger-man Harris James took possession of the ball just inside of the Dragoons half. The winger delightfully clipped a through-ball over the Expats defence for Askarov to run onto. Fortune favoured the Raptors man as his initial chipped effort went straight at Muñoz. The Dragoons Chilean stopper could not hold the ball however, and it bobbled back into Askarov’s path. The Kazakh got ahead of Muñoz to keep control of the ball and rolled it past the Dragoons defence to make it 2-0.
The Expats looked to strike back and a nice a flowing move saw Voženílek win a corner. Forabosco crossed into the box with his trademark left foot to find the near post run of Drobny. The Polish centre back got to the ball first, but saw his glanced effort put out for a second corner. Nothing materialised from the next set-piece but the Dragoons continued to play with confidence.
Down the other end however, the Raptors came very close to extending their lead. A swift counter attack saw Harris James sprint down the right. His ball into the box could not be cleared and an incoming shot saw Muñoz pull off an excellent reflex save with his legs. The ball came back to Harris James, who again played a ball across the 6 yard box. Dawson scooped the ball away, but not out of the danger zone. It fell kindly to a Raptors man on the edge of the box, however, a first time volley went inches wide of the Dragoons goal.
Ruthless Raptors Score A Third
Moments afterwards, the Raptors pressure told as they added a third goal of the game. A perfect through pass breached the Dragoons high line and found the run of Darvishi. The Iranian forward shrugged off the attentions of Drobny and arrowed a low shot into the bottom corner of the goal.
On the stroke of half time, the Raptors effectively brought the Dragoons down to their knees with a fourth goal. An excellent cross-field ball from the left exposed the Dragoons backline and found Harris James in space. The speedy winger sent a low cross into the six yard box where Darvishi lurked. In an attempt to cut out the cross, Muñoz leapt across the box. The Chilean suffered yet more misfortune as the ball cannoned back off of Darvishi and dropped into the net.
Despite the score, the Dragoons had produced some nice passing football. The cutting edge of the Raptors attack however, had seen them ruthlessly punish the Expats on four occasions.
The Dragoons came out of the second half eager to get back into the game. An early free-kick saw Forabosco force Raptors keeper, Montanaro to push the ball over his own bar.
Forabosco whipped the following corner across the box to find the head of Josh Dawson. Usually a lethal combination, on this occasion however, the Englishman powered his header over the bar.
With the Dragoons unable to trouble the score, the hosts began to up the ante and to dominate the game.
Darvishi turned provider in the 53rd minute as the Dragoons fell further behind. The Expats could not keep possession in the Raptors half and the ball came straight back. The Raptors Iranian striker sent a sensational through pass to find Harris James free in the box. The wide player got to the ball ahead of Muñoz and poked the ball into the back of the net.
Three minutes later and the Raptors nearly added a sixth goal. The Raptors got in behind the the Dragoons backline and into the box. A cross-shot ricocheted off of Simon Calabrese and across the face of goal. The following corner saw a free header deflect off a Dragoons man for a second set piece in a row. The Dragoons failed to clear their lines from the second corner and a shot from the edge of box went inches wide of the post.
Dragoons Grab One Back
As the half progressed, the Raptors had a flurry of chances to extend their lead without success. In the 76th minute however, the Dragoons got themselves a consolatory strike through Enrico Forabosco. On this occasion, fortune favoured the brave Dragoons. A free-kick on the edge of the box gave the Expats midfield magician a chance to shoot at goal. The Italian saw his shot crash into the wall and fly into the opposite corner of the net for 5-1.
Raptors Notch Another
The Raptors had the final say of the game in it’s dying embers, however. The Prague side brutally put the Dragoons to the sword with a sixth goal. The Expats dallied with the ball in their own half and lost possession. The Raptors worked the ball to Askarov, who evaded Dawson’s lunge to smash a low drive past Muñoz.
Shortly after, the final whistle sounded with the Dragoons convincingly beaten by 6 goals to 1.
Despite the result, the Dragoons can be proud of their performance. They played some neat football at times, but really lacked the cutting edge when going forward. The Raptors had been gifted a couple of the goals from the Dragoons profligacy, but had shown some real class in ripping the Dragoons backline to pieces with some excellent passing football.
Group B Standings
The last and upcoming group match between Prague Raptors and Afc DWS will decide which team advances to the final four in Milan. The Fenix Trophy final will take place in the mythical San Siro Stadium on June 8th.