Cardiff Dragons 0 – 11 Newcastle Panthers

A very disappointing afternoon for the Dragons as the harsh realities of the GFSN League set in, but as always a valuable learning experience considering our lack of experience. The game was played in good weather conditions on our excellent new home pitch at the University Playing Fields in Llanrumney. With the two sides meeting on the pitch for the first time the game began fairly evenly with both teams playing some good passing football in the opening 10 minutes, the Dragons employing a 4-5-1 formation for the first time this season – a formation designed to make it easier to play some cohesive football and defend in numbers. This worked well in the initial stages but a combination of unfamiliarity with this system, and poor application, allowed Newcastle to create chances and they were soon 3-0 up after a series of defensive errors allowed the opposition too much space in and around the area.

An injury to Sam Ashton, who was replaced by Lucas Owen in an unfamiliar centre-midfield position, contributed to a continuation with well taken chances and opportunistic finishing the visitors, who found themselves 6-0 up by the 35 minute mark. The Dragons had the odd excursion into Newcastle territory with Lyons having a couple of half chances. The last 10 minutes of the half was more encouraging after Anthony Read exchanged his right-back position with the lost-looking Owen, and despite territory gained by the Dragons, the possession lacked final product.

The second half again started encouragingly for the hosts with some good passing movements allowing Newcastle less time to settle. The half was pretty even for the first 15 minutes but the visitors extended their lead with a fortunate goal as a clearance rebounded to one of their players in front of goal. In a similar vein to the first half this gave the Panthers a lift and they took full opportunity of many of the chances they were allowed with excellent finishing. The Dragons did fashion chances of their own – the best of these falling to Kris Llewellyn and Lyons, but they could not capitalise on these. As usual a good level of fitness and application was shown to the end. Three more Dragons substitutes were introduced for the final 10 minutes as the game was played out with no further goals.

Overall despite the result there was some cohesive football played at times against a team that will be challenging for the title this season. However, a catalogue of individual errors and the squad’s unfamiliarity with playing a 4-5-1 formation contributed to a very harsh scoreline.