The Dragoons travelled to Tramwaj Krakow this weekend in search of a second consecutive win.
A host of changes saw Simon Calabrese return to the starting XI replacing Josh Dawson. In midfield Ceri Looker came into the side for Enrico Forabosco. The Italian picked up a knock in the week, but dropped to the bench.
Rohit Chandran also dropped into midfield with Rob Smits playing in a more advanced position in attack. The last change saw Błażej Święcicki drop to the bench, with Joaquin Serrano returning to the starting line-up.
A fast-paced start to the game saw the hosts create a chance straight from kick-off. A long pass to the wing saw a cross come into the box and Oleksandr Blahinin had the freedom of the area but could not trouble Marcin Obyrtacz in the Dragoons goal.
In only the 2nd minute, a corner for Tramwaj caught the Expats cold. The Dragoons struggled to clear their lines and a shot from close range once again brought Obyrtacz into action.
First Chance For Dragoons
The Dragoons created their first chance of the game with 7 minutes played.
Brian Lemmen firmly headed a corner clear into the path of Rob Smits. The Dutchmeester touched the ball to Chandran who in turn found Serrano. The Spanish sensation played a great pass to pick out Chowaniec, but the last man managed to apply enough pressure to ensure the Dragoons striker did not have a clear run at goal. Chowaniec managed to get a shot off, but sent the ball wide of the goal.
Down the other end, a free header from another set-piece saw the ball fly straight at Obyrtacz. The Expats seemed to be living dangerously early doors.
Over The Target
Into the 10th minute, an excellent ball from Looker saw Smits sprint down the left. The Dutchman looked to put the ball into the box, but an intervention gave the Dragoons a corner.
Serrano whipped the ball towards the near post and found the head of Lemmen. The Dragoons defender did well to stoop and win the ball, but could not find the target.
Robert Ambrosie went into the book for tugging the shirt of an opponent on 12 minutes. The following free-kick saw Obyrtacz spill his catch and the Dragoons attempted to clear. Nowak flew into a challenge just inside of the box, with an opponent falling to the ground. The referee waved play-on deeming the Tramwaj man not receiving any contact from the Dragoons full-back.
An interesting game saw neither side create much in terms of chances. Both teams won set-plays but could not really trouble the target.
A Missed Opportunity
It took until the 28th minute for the next opportunity of note. A chance the Dragoons should have scored from. Ambrosie received the ball on the right and came forward with purpose. The Romanian sent in a beautiful cross into the box towards the back post. Rohit Chandran, the smallest man on the pitch, leapt up but the ball sailed over his head.
The danger had not gone however, as Chowaniec controlled the cross and passed back to Chandran. The Indian snatched at the chance and blasted the ball over the bar from close range with the goal at his mercy.
A dangerous corner for the hosts came two minutes after. Brian Lemmen got his head to the ball, but it looped straight into the air. A header came at the back post, which saw the ball blocked out and then a rebounded drive saw Mark Szczesnowicz fly in to block and deny the shot going towards goal.
Corner kicks seemed to be causing the Expats a number of problems. Another set-piece saw Łukasz Szewczyk unmarked in the box. The Tramwaj centre-back headed across goal and it looked all the way he’d score. But enter Marcin Obyrtacz, the Dragoons keeper sprung to his left to get a fingertip to push the ball onto the post!
The Dragoons cleared the ball out, but it came straight back into the box and another free header inside the six-yard box went over the crossbar.
Tramwaj Take The Lead
In the 43rd minute, the first goal of the game arrived for the hosts. Of course, it would be a corner that led to the Dragoons downfall! A whipped cross to the front post, saw a Tramwaj man flick the ball on. The pony-tailed Adam Brzeźniak reacted fastest at the far post to nod his side into the lead.
The Dragoons barely had time to think as the hosts hit an immediate second goal on the stroke of half time. Tramwaj broke down their right side and Bartek Osuch managed to get into the box. The forwarded attempted a shot at goal, forcing Obyrtacz to save. The ball spilled out to the right side and Dariusz Osuch nipped past the statuesque Expat defence and stabbed the rebound into the net.
As soon as the ball hit the net, the referee sounded the whistle for half time. In fairness the Dragoons had been second best in every area, but the two goals in two minutes had caught the side cold.
The second half kicked off and it started in a similar fashion to the first. The Expats struggled to deal with the high press and could not keep possession.
An early chance for the hosts came in the 50th minute. Brzeźniak got a shot at goal that Obyrtacz saved once again. The ball came to the edge of the area but a second attempt flew wide of the target.
It should have been 3-0 for Tramwaj four minutes later. Half time substitute Jakub Kostrz broke the offside trap and had a free run at goal. Enter that man Obyrtacz once again, who kept the Expats in the game saving the shot.
Joaquin Serrano had the first shot at goal for the Dragoons in the second period. The wing wizard came inside off of the wing, but dragged his effort wide of the goal.
Marvellous Marcin the Saviour
On the hour mark, Obyrtacz came to the Dragoons rescue for the umpteenth time. A cross-field pass saw Brian Lemmen inadvertently head straight into the path of Kostrz. The Expats keeper stood strong to push the following shot round the post, denying a further goal.
The hosts continued to threaten the Expats half, but the closest chance came for the Dragoons. A neat attack from the Expats saw Serrano involved again. The Spaniard cut in on his trusty left peg, and sent a curling effort just past the post.
Enrico Forabosco and Emre Bezirkan came into the game in the 66th minute. Ceri Looker and Rob Smits departed the field. It had been a tough day at the office for the Dutchmeester, playing in an unfamiliar central attacking role.
First Shot On Target
The first shot on target for the Expats came in the 68th minute. Michał Nowak found space on the Dragoons left flank and hit a thunderous shot at goal. Martin Szwiec in the Tramwaj goal spilled the initial effort and grabbed the ball at the second attempt.
An excellent intervention from Tramwaj centre-back Piotr Grygiel, saw the defender play a neat one-two. The Expats allowed Grygiel to thunder his way down the left wing and put a cross into the box. Brian Lemmen got there first however, and diverted the ball perilously past his own post.
Dragoons Getting Closer
Serrano continued to keep the Expats ticking in attack. The winger held up the ball on the flank and threaded a through pass for Bezirkan. The Turk ambled his way into the box and sent a cross that almost found fellow sub Forabosco.
Tramwaj smacked the ball out of play, giving Nowak the chance to throw long. The ball arrowed into the box and a flicked header sent it towards the back post. Rohit Chandran rose highest to win a header but he could not direct the ball on target.
Denied By The Post
With 15 minutes left to play, a counter-attack from Tramwaj almost brought the third goal for the hosts. Jakub Kostrz got in behind Lemmen, with the Expats defender doing his best to put the forward off, breathing down his neck and snapping at his heels. The attacker got into the box and rolled the ball under Obyrtacz, but saw his effort bobble back off of the post.
Straight down the other end, Chowaniec showed good skill to bypass his man and break forward. The Dragoons top scorer looked to pick out Bezirkan in the box, only for a last-ditch intervention by a defender put the ball inches past his own post.
Tramwaj managed to clear the following corner to the edge of the box, but only to Serrano. The wing wizard hit a low effort, sending Szwiec sprawling to his left to make a save. Nowak looked to pounce on the rebound, but the linesman deemed the Pole to be offside.
A double change in the 78th minute saw Szymon Urzędowski and Piotr Hajnrych enter the game. Robert Ambrosie and captain Mark Szczesnowicz left the field as the Dragoons changed formation. Michał Nowak went into a more advanced position, with Hajnrych filling in as a left centre back.
The formation change seemed to give the Expats more fluidity and freedom against their tiring opponents.
Serrano Denied Again!
Joaquin Serrano came close to hauling the Expats back into the game with 83 minutes on the clock. A Forabosco free-kick saw Tramwaj clear only as far as Serrano on the edge of the box. The wing wizard took a touch to set himself and curled the ball towards the bottom corner. It looked like the ball would hit the net only for former Cravocia youth goalkeeper Szwiec, to fling himself full-stretch to his right and make an excellent save.
Two minutes later and the Dragoons created another chance. Barry Chowaniec raced down the Dragoons left. The attacker entered the corner of the box and pulled back a pass into the path of Forabosco. The usual deadly midfield magician shot first time, but could only direct his effort straight at Szwiec to save.
A late push saw the Expats go close to reducing the lead with three minutes left. Chandran came from deep to receive a throw from Nowak. The whirlwind burst forward and attempted a shot that curled over the bar.
Tramwaj won a late free-kick in injury time that saw Hajnrych go into the book for blocking an opponent. The following shot saw Obyrtacz save with ease.
With the game close to a finish, the Dragoons scored a late consolatory goal. Serrano sprayed a pass to Forabosco in the centre of the park. The Italian played a pass to release Nowak through on goal. Nowak showed great patience as Szwiec closed him down, to calmly finish through the keeper’s legs to score.
The last blast of the whistle followed shortly after to end the Dragoons four game unbeaten run. The result condemned the side to their second defeat of the season.
In all honesty, Tramwaj deserved their victory. They won every second ball and would not give the Expats any breathing space in possession. The Expats struggled to win the midfield battle and could not get their dangermen into the game.
Every time the Expats did break forward, a lack of bodies in the box and good defending broke up attacks.
Marcin Obyrtacz saved the Dragoons on a number of occasions, but the second half shift in tactics proved the Expats are able to cause a problem for any opponent.
Next up is a tricky home fixture against the runaway league leaders Iskra Krzęcin. Formed in 1948, Iskra have won all six games so far this season. Their latest victory saw the table toppers defeat Wanda Kraków 4-1 at home. With twenty goals scored and five conceded, it will be a tough ask for the Expats who remain ninth in the table. The two sides met once last season for the Puchar Polski, with the Dragoons beating their opponents 4-2 at home. A different game with different circumstances, but a result which can be a good tonic for the Expats in the upcoming fixture.