Three Straight Defeats
The Dragoons travelled 30km this past weekend in their latest fixture against Victoria Smroków. With a 3rd game in the space of 7 days, Hugo Cruz made 3 changes after the heart-breaking defeat to Vinsky in the Fenix Trophy.
Marcin Obyrtacz continued in goal following a man of the match performance during the week. Meanwhile, injury to Francesco Leuci saw the Italian drop out of the squad with Piotr Hajnrych being the only defensive change. Kuba Drobny, Sasha Arshakian and Roman Bilovol all kept their places following the midweek game.
The midfield remained unchanged with Brian Lemmen anchoring the middle alongside Enrico Forabosco and Rohit Chandran.
Alessio Sassini remained in attack, as Martin Voženílek and Valdzis Fuhaš replaced the unavailable Yuri Samyonov and benched Ayoub Chardal on the wings.
The Expats created the first chance and perhaps should have scored inside the first 3 minutes. Valdzis Fuhaš’ cross-field pass found Voženílek in space at the back-post, with the Czech immediately touching the ball into Sassini. The Italian took the ball into his control, but saw his effort blocked by the legs of goalkeeper Michał Massalski.
A foul conceded on the corner of the box by the Expats gave Victoria their first chance of the game. Krystian Kuczak stepped up to take the kick, but failed to hit the target as the ball swung wide.
Down the other end in the 10th minute, the Expats worked the keeper a second time. Roman Bilovol found himself advanced from full-back and received a pass from Forabosco. The Argentine pushed forward and drilled a fierce shot from range, but sent it straight at Massalski to save.
The Dragoons injury curse hit two minutes later as Enrico Forabosco felt a twinge and left the field. Ayoub Chardal came into the game and took the Italian’s place in the centre of the pitch.
On 15 minutes, the Dragoons conceded another free-kick presenting Victoria an excellent shooting chance on the edge of the box. Kuczak took the kick once again, but the Dragoons wall stood strong to block the ball away.
Chardal found himself involved on 18 minutes, cutting inside and sending a low shot at goal. Michał Massalski flew to his right to keep the attempt out and collected the ball at the 2nd attempt.
The Dragoons had the ball in the net on 20 minutes as Fuhaš showed nice feet and put a good pass into Sassini. The Italian finished past the keeper, however, a flag from the official saw the strike correctly ruled out.
Sassini had a great chance to put the Dragoons ahead just two minutes later. The striker caught a defender napping and took the ball off his toes. With Massalski dashing off his line to close the gap, Sassini opted to try and take the ball around the advanced keeper. Unfortunately, it would prove to be the wrong decision as a covering defender sprinted in to take the ball off the Italian’s toes.
Victoria Take The Lead
It would prove to be a costly moment for the Expats as Victoria went into the lead on 25 minutes. A lofted pass saw the ball worked over the Dragoons defence into the left side of the Expats box. Marcin Obyrtacz flew off his line, entering into a footrace with Victoria’s Kuczak. The home attacker got to the ball first and prodded it towards goal past the stranded keeper. Both Drobny and Arshakian raced back in vain to try and stop the ball crossing the line, but could not prevent it going into the back of the net for 1-0.
The Dragoons went straight on the offensive to get themselves back into the game. A blatant foul on Rohit Chandran went unpunished as the Expats continued. The visitors managed to work a shooting attempt through Ayoub Chardal, but the Moroccan blasted straight at the keeper.
Halfway through the half the Dragoons got themselves level with a neat move. A good turn by Fuhaš saw the winger send a searching cross into the Victoria box. The ball found Voženílek free at the far box, who cut-back towards Sassini. The Italian assassin produced a trademark shot on the swivel and sent the ball into the net for 1-1.
The Dragoons went straight on the offensive and a lovely piece of skill saw Hajnrych leave a defender for dead. The Polish full-back sent a curling cross into the box that just evaded Sassini and Victoria cleared.
Victoria Come Close
The home side had a gameplan to get the ball to their wide players. With 37th minutes played, a long raking pass went over the Dragoons defence towards the goalscorer Kuczak. The home forward struck a firm first-time shot at goal, but Obyrtacz got down well to save.
Both sides went back and forth as the half wore on with Victoria having the best opportunity to score. The Dragoons cleared a corner, but saw a long ball come straight back to the taker, Kuczak. The Victoria dangerman worked the ball onto his left foot and attempted a curling shot just inside the box but Martin Obyrtacz read the attempt and plucked it out of the air.
Half time soon came with the game level at 1-1. The Expats had the better chances of the game but had been struck by a sucker punch. A difficult pitch had seen the Dragoons struggle to implement their passing game to dominate the ball but managed to strike back quickly. Neither side could keep possession long, with Victoria happy to try and exploit the backline with long passes.
The first chance of the second period came the way of the Dragoons. A set-piece from Chardal saw the Moroccan marvel swing the ball into the box. Alessio Sassini escaped the attention of his marker to get a head to the ball, but saw it bounce back off the bar. Victoria could only clear as far as Rohit Chandran just outside the box, who volleyed back at goal. The ball flew towards goal, but a brave defensive header saw it divert over the bar for a Dragoons corner.
The Hosts Lead
Despite the Expats having more of the ball, they fell behind in the 52nd minute. A poor choice of pass from Fuhaš saw Victoria smack a long pass to the right wing. Mateusz Mudyn found himself with time to take the ball down and run forward. The attacker beat Hajnrych for pace and cut inside onto his left foot to shoot. Obyrtacz got down to make an initial save, but Grzegorz Kmita caught the Dragoons defence flat-footed to tuck in the rebound to restore the home side’s lead.
On 57 minutes, the Dragoons had the ball in the back of the net through Sassini. Chandran burst through the centre of the park and shifted the ball out wide to Fuhaš. The Dragoons forward crossed into the box to find Sassini in space and the Italian assassin applied the finish. The official on the sideline ruled out the goal once again, flagging the pass to Fuhaš to rule out the goal. On second look, an incredibly poor decision by the linesman! To compound matters, Sassini went into the book with the official deeming him to have kicked the ball away.
The Dragoons continued to apply the pressure and won a free-kick inside the Victoria half. Chardal floated the ball into the box, where Drobny rose highest but could not direct his header on target.
The Officials Take Centre Stage
As the game progressed the Expats became more and more frustrated by the decisions of the officials. The man in the middle displayed no consistency with a strong but fair tackle by Arshakian given as a foul by the linesman. Chardal booted the ball into the fence in frustration earning himself a yellow card.
Hilarity ensued in the 67th minute as Dragoons keeper Martin Obyrtacz went into the book. After the Dragoons had won a free-kick in the Victoria half, the official on the opposing side flagged to get the official’s attention. The referee subsequently booked Obyrtacz, the world’s quietest goalkeeper for saying something out loud. Only what he apparently shouted will remain a mystery…
A red card came the way of Dragoons assistant coach Scott Halcrow on 72nd minute after a foul on Chandran went unpunished. The Expats bench vented their frustration with the official producing a yellow and then straight red to Halcrow.
Dragoons Press for an Equaliser
The Dragoons still battled against their opponents and ironic cheers came from the Expats’ followers as Sassini won a free-kick. Chardal saw his effort pushed away by Massalski, and Arshakian could not set himself as the rebound bobbled wide off the Ukrainian’s shin.
Sassini won a second free-kick in quick succession down on the byline in the 77th minute. Chardal sent a cross into the box and Massalski had to backpedal and produce two strong hands to push the ball away from goal.
The Dragoons final half chance came with three minutes left on the clock. Substitute Isreal Olusoji whipped in a ball across the face of the goal. Sadly, only Chandran gambled to get onto the end of it, with the pace taking the ball beyond the Indian.
After 6 minutes of injury time, the Dragoons failed to fashion any further chances and fell to defeat. A painful third straight league defeat sees the Dragoons remain in 8th place.
It would be easy to blame the officials, but in truth, they made a lot of poor decisions for both teams. The Dragoons did enough to at least earn a point, but came away with nothing once again.
Victoria hit the Expats with two sucker punches to win the game. Down the other end, the Dragoons spurned some chances, but failed to really work the goalkeeper. The Expats seem to want to play relentless tiki-taka on bobbly pitches and end up conceding possession and goals.
Whilst the style is pretty to watch, the Expats fail to show the movement and technical ability required to keep the ball in the final third, especially with key players missing. The Dragoons have pace in abundance on their flanks, but too often lack even basic overlapping to get behind opposition defences. Another issue is getting bodies in the box, with the centre forward having to battle manfully with little support.
Sometimes a little adaptability is needed, as teams work the ball in the channels beyond the Dragoons defence, why not try and do the same to them? The Expats looked dangerous against Vinksy going slightly more direct, but struggled against Victoria reverting back to a possession game. The home defence looked ponderous and slow, but the Dragoons did not look to exploit an obvious weakness. The Dragoons keep the ball for long periods, but go nowhere until conceding possession far too often.
Painfully slow and overcomplicated build up play sees the Dragoons easy to defend against, with the team often going backwards instead of forward. The Expats fail to get bodies in advanced positions and do not pressure the opposition back line enough. The standoffish approach and lack of aggression to win the ball back makes the Dragoons a “nice” team to play against. All too often the Dragoons do not get to the second ball enough, which highlights the need to get closer to the opposition and straight onto their first touch to put them under pressure.
One glaringly obvious issue is goal scoring, with the Expats only grabbing 15 goals this season. This is the 4th worst in the league and another area the Dragoons must improve on to start climbing up the table.
9th placed Płomień Kościelec could leap frog the Dragoons should they come away with all 3 points next week. One point separates the two sides who have both lost their last 3 games. Like the Expats, Płomień have tasted victory on 3 occasions this season, drawing once and losing 6 times.
Płomień have played at A Klasa level since the 2019/20 season with the COVID hit year seeing their best performance of 7th in the 13 games played. They have finished 11th in their two other seasons in more recent times at this level. Płomień have scored 19 goals so far this term, which is 4 more than the Expats, but have conceded 29 goals in comparison to 16 by the Dragoons.