A Poor Performance
The Dragoons travelled to 3rd placed Wanda Kraków this past weekend, looking to close the gap on the top sides. Hugo Cruz returned to the dugout and made five changes to the team that comfortably defeated Bratniak last weekend.
Marcin Obyrtacz continued in goal, with Sasha Arshakian and Josh Dawson keeping their place at centre and left back. Simon Calabrese dropped out of the squad completely as Kuba Drobny returned to partner Arshakian and a final defensive change saw Roman Bilovol return to replace Szymon Urzędowski at right back.
A midfield overhaul saw Brian Lemmen unable to play through injury, with Corneille Malonga returning to start. Rob Smits also returned in the place of Tarek Boufeniza with Rohit Chandran completing the trio in the centre of the pitch.
Into the attack, Flavio Nkola moved out wide right to accommodate Yuri Samyonov’s return to the first XI and Ayoub Chardal started wide left once again.
A fast start from the hosts saw the ball immediately pinged wide right, with Dawson putting it out of play. A long-throw came into the Dragoons box, with Piotr Bagnicki flicking a header towards the back post. Jakub Kwiecień attempted to put the ball back across goal, but Rob Smits blocked it out for a corner.
Early Let Off
From the following corner, Jakub Kozak rose highest and sent a towering header crashing against the crossbar. Kwiecień got to the rebound first inside of the 6 yard box and hooked the ball back over his head towards the far post. Bagnicki reacted quickest to head towards an unguarded goal but somehow managed to glance the attempt wide. Almost a perfect start for the home side!
With 6 minutes played, Wanda were given a free-kick on the edge of the box after the referee adjudged Arshakian had leaned in with his elbow. Łukasz Sikora stood over the ball, however the Dragoons wall held firm to block the shot away.
On the 15 minute mark, Wanda came forward again and worked the ball down the left wing. A cross came into the Dragoons’ box and found Nikoloz Meladze unmarked at the back post. Meladze attempted a volley at goal, but smacked the ball high and wide.
Wanda continued to dominate the ball and came forward again two minutes later. A deep cross came into the area and forced Obyrtacz to punch away inside his own 6 yard box. The Dragoons keeper did not get the best of connection with the ball, but Bilovol managed to head away the danger.
The Hosts Open The Scoring
On 21 minutes, Wanda scored the opening goal to deservedly lead the game. The goal came from the Dragoons sending men forward for a free-kick high up the pitch. The hosts blocked away Chardal’s initial set-piece and a second attempted cross found the head of a defender to clear. The ball landed at the feet of Kwiecień inside of his own half and completely alone. The Wanda winger pressed forward unchallenged and managed to continue his progress into the Dragoons box. Bilovol eventually attempted to close the forward down, but could not halt Kwiecień’s run inside the area. The home attacker shifted the ball onto his left foot and from a tight angle, sent a neat low effort across Obyrtacz, wheeling away in celebration as the ball nestled into the bottom corner for 1-0.
Straight after the goal, the Dragoons lost possession and Wanda immediately played it down the right flank. Meladze got to the ball first and attempted to chip the ball over the head of the advancing Obyrtacz in no-man’s land. Meladze could get no height on the effort however, as the Dragoons keeper stuck out an arm to deny the opportunity.
Dragoons Game Summed Up
Obyrtacz picked up the ball and rolled it to Chandran, who in turn bounced an awful attempted pass to Dawson. A wild divot took the ball over the Englishman’s foot and out for a corner, in a moment that summed up the performance so far.
From the following set-piece, Bagnicki managed to get to the ball first, but sent his effort just over the bar. Another let-off for the boys, who just could not seemingly keep possession for any moment of time.
Despite being second best in the game, the Expats almost found a leveller on 24 minutes. With little option ahead of him and an opponent quickly closing him down, Arshakian lumped an aimless punt forward. A poor defensive header inadvertently fell kindly into the path of Nkola to run onto. With the ball bobbling horribly off the turf, the Angolan managed to time his effort well and drove a fierce shot at goal. The home stopper Michał Bartyzel stood in the way however, getting two strong hands to push the shot up into the air and narrowly over his own goal, with the ball landing on the top of the net.
Ayoub Chardal swung the following corner towards the back post where Josh Dawson lay in wait. The defender managed to get to the ball, but his headed attempt cleared the bar.
Dragoons Hold On
Wanda continued to press the Dragoons effectively, with the Expats struggling to get out of their own half. Hubert Bujas almost took advantage on 32 minutes, receiving a pass in midfield, holding off two challenges and getting off a shot. Fortunately for the Dragoons, the ball landed comfortably in the arms of Obyrtacz to save.
Moments before the break, Wanda came close to extending their lead as the Dragoons looked determined to concede. An attempt to play the ball from out the back gifted possession to the hosts. Bujas looked to make the Dragoons pay, but saw his driven effort fly just past the post.
The half soon ended with the hosts well on top of the game. Wanda’s high press had caused issues for the Expats who seemed incapable of 5 yard passes. The inability to keep the ball saw Wanda control the game and the only saving grace being the score only being 1-0 at the break.
After a rousing team-talk at the break, the Dragoons came into the second half with a little more purpose. The team looked to use the ball better and move it around quicker to get themselves forward.
On 49 minutes, a bright start to the half saw Rob Smits fouled to present a shooting opportunity from a free-kick. Chardal stepped up to shoot, but could not hit the target with the ball curling wide.
The Dragoons continued to get forward and worked a shooting chance in the 55th minute. Wanda failed to clear away their lines and the ball fell kindly to Josh Dawson to shoot. The Englishman leaned back as he attempted the shot however, sending the ball sailing miles over the target.
On the hour mark, Hugo Cruz turned to his bench in an attempt to inject something different to capitalise on their positive start. Roman Bilovol, Yuri Samyonov and Ayoub Chardal made way with Francesco Leuci, Taye Johnson and Emre Çolakoğlu all coming on.
Although the Dragoons had seen more of the possession in the second half, they had done little in terms of chance of creation. All too often, the Expats failed to find a telling touch or pass in the final third.
Dawson to the Rescue
Into the 72nd minute, Wanda almost took advantage of the Expats carelessness. From a Dragoons goal-kick, Wanda pressed high and the visiting defence struggled to get the ball away. Poor decision making gave Wanda possession in the Dragoons half and a through-pass saw Kwiecień free inside the box with a chance to double his tally. On this occasion, the attacker opted to pass to Rafał Błachut for a tap-in however Josh Dawson had better ideas. The defender came out of nowhere to chuck himself at the ball as Błachut shot, with the attempt clipping the Englishman’s ankle and diverting wide to prevent a certain goal.
Wanda Add a Second
Just three minutes later however, Wanda managed to punish the Dragoons with a second goal. A long kick forward by Bartyzel somehow managed to divot off the turf past Leuci into Kwiecień’s path. The attacker managed to sprint beyond the Italian down the left side and into the area, attempting a low cross into the box. The ball struck the outstretched boot of Drobny, bounced viciously off the turf against the post, past the bamboozled Obyrtacz and into the net for 2-0.
The Dragoons sent on Salah Missi immediately after the goal for Corneille Malonga as the team changed formation to a back three.
Wanda had the wind in their sails as the second goal had given them renewed vigour. A long pass over the Dragoons back-line saw Kwiecień in possession once again, crossing to the edge of the box to find Piotr Bagnicki in acres of space. The striker elected to shoot on the volley, but got his angles all wrong and sent the ball skywards.
Worth a Go
A couple of minutes later, Taye Johnson came deep to take the ball off Drobny just inside his own half. The South African drove forward and attempted an equally ambitious drive at goal from range. Johnson failed to get a clean connection with his attempt, sending a daisy cutter bobbling off the turf and dribbling wide of the goal by quite some distance.
With ten minutes to play, an aerial challenge by Missi gave away a free-kick and saw the Algerian go into the book. Wanda shot directly from the edge of the box, but the Dragoons wall stood strong once again.
Four minutes later, a long ball forward exposed the Dragoons defence as Mykyta Moroziuk ran down the right wing. A low cross evaded both Dawson and Arshakian, with Leuci having to lunge in to prevent Kwiecień grabbing a hat-trick.
A last roll of the dice from Cruz saw Isreal Olusoji, Cedrick Mwamba and Szymon Urzędowski enter the game in place of Nkola, Chandran and the injured Çolakoğlu.
The substitution almost had an immediate impact as all three substitutes helped progress the ball up the pitch. A lovely through ball from Johnson found Olusoji inside the Wanda box, however, a debatable offside call stopped the move.
Following the change, the Dragoons had a fresh impetus in attack and worked the ball quicker. With numbers pushed forward however, the Expats left themselves vulnerable to the counter. A quick break forward saw Wanda move the ball to the left with the dangerman Kwiecień in possession. A cross into the box found Bagnicki, but the burly striker compounded his misery in front of goal by sending another effort high into the darkening sky.
As the minutes ticked down into the injury time the Dragoons played good football to get the ball forward and won a corner. Wanda managed to clear the ball, but the Dragoons came straight back forward. Missi received a pass from Smits out wide and played the ball into the feet of Mwamba. The Congolese forward turned on the edge of the box, but leaned back and sent a shot over the crossbar.
Dragoons Strike The Post
Into the third minute of stoppage time, the Dragoons attacked once again with Smits finding Missi on the left wing. The Algerian cut back onto his right foot and lifted a high curling cross into the box. The ball swerved wickedly through the air, completely deceiving Bartyzel, thudding against the post and bouncing back into play.
The remaining seconds passed by without incident as the Dragoons fell to a 2-0 defeat. The result saw Wanda equal the points tally of 2nd placed Galicja Raciborowice, but remain 3rd owing to goal difference. Meanwhile, the Dragoons fall one place to 6th in the table following their 3rd loss of the season.
Credit must go to Wanda for being quick in the press, disciplined and well organised, making it hard for the Dragoons to get into the game.
The hosts worked the ball into their dangermen on the flanks and put dangerous balls into the box. Wanda managed to dominate the centre of the park in the first half and looked to play simply. The second half they stood up to the Dragoons forward play and again worked the wings well to get behind the defence.
Whilst Wanda did not possess the individual technical qualities, they more than made up for it with their desire to do battle and played to their strengths to secure victory.
Dragoons Disappointing in Defeat
It was an extremely disappointing performance from the Expats. Unfortunately, all the hard work from the training ground is being undone during games. Too many touches and single mindedness is letting the Expats down in the final third. Whilst the pitch was not the best, both sides had to work with the conditions.
It is frustrating to see some of the team struggling with the simple aspects of the game. One touch, look up, pass and move. Individual skill is great when it works, but taking on two men twice and then losing it does not help the team. The Dragoons have a nasty habit of waiting for the ball to land at their feet rather than going to the ball first at times. On some occasions, good balls are put into the box, but all too often the movement is static with not enough bodies getting into the area gambling to get a touch. The work ethic and movement was sadly missing until the final five minutes, which is distressing. Admittedly, the team did improve in the second half, but the Dragoons failed to seriously work the Wanda keeper.
Unfortunately, unity and cohesion is sadly not showing at the moment as the team look like a bunch of individuals. When possession is given away, the team amble back instead of working hard to win it back high up the pitch. Too often the Expats are too nice, standoffish, lack aggression and struggle to win the second ball. There is no communication on the field between the team and they look scared to stand up and be counted. Presently, there seems to be a complete lack of confidence in being able to pull off the style of play Cruz desires in a match day situation.
The Dragoons must show a massive improvement to gain all three points at home to Prądniczanka II next Sunday.
Prądniczanka II have been present in A Klasa since the 2014/15 season, finishing 4th last term. The side currently sit in 5th place, one position above the Expats with 13 points. In the league so far, they have won 4, drawn once and lost 3 times. Prądniczanka are currently on a 2 game unbeaten streak having defeated Czarni 03 Grzegorzowice and Sparta Skrzeszowice recently.
Fingers crossed the Expats can improve and return to winning ways in the first ever meeting between the two sides.