Cardiff Dragons 1 – 14 London Titans

Match report

Bishop of Llandaff School, GFSN League (11-a-side Mixed Gender)

21st November 2015

A day to forget as the Dragons felt the wrath of the Titans in our first home GFSN League fixture.

The Blues started slowly, conceding three goals in the opening five minutes, and could never recover their composure or muster any coherent play in a traumatic first half, despite the valiant attempts of Liam and Harriet to test the opposition defence.  The Dragons back four, a combination of the inexperienced, the out-of-position and the unwell, found themselves repeatedly exposed by the slick build-up and clinical finishing of the visitors, who cut through a disorganised midfield at will.  Liam’s free kick attempt—which sailed narrowly over the bar—provided the only suggestion of a scoring chance.

Things improved a little in the second period—particularly after captain Emyr moved forward into his more accustomed role alongside Zak, a combination which at last ignited some semblance of a passing game and got the team onto the front foot.  An early penalty converted by Muzz offered a glimmer of hope, but goalkeeping replacement Dave W could not stem the tide at the other end, despite several important interventions.  Harriet continued to supply a composure and consistency lacking elsewhere on the pitch, and rightly received the Dragon of the Day accolade for her efforts.  The team actually enjoyed some sustained periods of possession after the break, but Liam’s free kick and Darrin’s rather tame attempt from just outside the area were the only shots on target.

The spirit and solidarity of last week’s Mersey venture—altogether lacking in the first 45—was much more in evidence later in the game, with the squad showing determination and courage to play through the disappointment right up to the final whistle.  Further positives were the debut performance of Claudio and the strong display of Megan following her introduction at right back.

Many thanks to the supporters who endured the freezing afternoon and continued to provide unstinting encouragement throughout, to Antony and Ryan for their management, and to Craig for his authority and consistency in the refereeing role.

Cardiff Dragons are much bigger than one poor performance, and the task now is to learn from this defeat, maintain our unity, and bounce back as we have done in other leagues this season and so many times in the past.  Our next opponents had better beware the backlash!

Dragons scorers: Muzz (pen) 50

HT 0-9

Cardiff Dragons: Alex, Dave W, Muzz, Ryan M, Hennie, Meg R, Neil, Emyr (C), Darrin, Fudge, Claudio, Harriet, Liam, Ruth, Zak.

Cardiff Dragons 2 – 9 Mersey Marauders

Match Report – Dragons across the Mersey

GFSN League Division Two (Mixed-Gender 11-a-side)

14th November 2015, Liverpool

A squad representative of the broad, brilliant range of Dragons membership headed north with partners and supporters for their first GFSN fixture of the season and the promise of a night’s enthusiastic socialising amid the buzzing streets, bars and clubs of Liverpool city centre.

It was never going to be an easy task on the pitch, taking on well-drilled hosts in driving rain with players unpractised as a unit—including several lacking experience at the 11-a-side game—but the scoreline hardly does justice to the individual commitment and fantastic team spirit shown throughout. Even the loss of some early goals could not quench the Dragons’ work-rate and desire, everyone playing for each other and the badge with immense passion, pride and solidarity, defending with discipline and creating attacking opportunities whenever the chance arose.

Such efforts did not deserve to go unrewarded, and the tireless running of Dan—unlucky to see a free kick spin along the goal-line off the inside of the post a few minutes earlier—ensured they were not, as he picked up the pieces from some midfield work from Ryan, Harriet and Darrin to fire in a shot which rebounded off the keeper for a gleeful Ruth to turn into the net. Dragon of the Day Dan was not to be denied his own moment of glory though, a fantastic run and unstoppable shot from the left following a through ball from Jason briefly reducing the deficit before the Marauders bagged a couple of late breakaway goals.

Any disappointment at the final score was more than tempered by the positives: strong GFSN league debuts from Alex in goal, Hennie, Joe, Claire (also redoubtable in the linesperson role!), Meg the Younger and Meg the Wiser; brave on-the-pitch leadership by example from stalwarts Muzz, Ryan M and John A; relentless work from Harriet, Joe and Dan and morale-boosting encouragement from veterans Ruth, Jason and Darrin; a warmly-greeted cameo from goalkeeping legend Amos; and the wonderful support of Shona, Sue, Richie, Mrs Joe and Anthony, doubling as the day’s Manager and decision-maker-in-chief. With the attitude and team ethos shown here, this squad can only improve as it grows in experience and familiarity, and there will surely be many enjoyable days to come in this competition before the season’s end.

An after-match feast provided the opportunity for the Dragons to relax with the hosts, and as the evening wore on, to show the hosts how we party! Suffice to say it was a night so memorable a few of us are struggling to remember it.  Many thanks for the hospitality of those members of the Mersey squad who joined us and guided us through it, to those Dragons who took on driving duties and organised accommodation, and to all the Cardiff GFSN 2015/16 crew for being even more fabulous than Mr McGavock on the dancefloor.

Dragons scorers: Ruth 60, Dan 70

HT 0-5

Cardiff Dragons: Alex, Dave A, Meg R, Muzz, John A (C), Joe, Claire, Ryan M, Darrin, Meg H, Harriet, Jason, Ruth, Hennie, Dan.

Cardiff Dragons V Mersey Marauders GFSN 2015IMG_2470

Dragons Rock 2 – 1 Misfits

Match report

Brunel Academy, Bristol

Bristol Women’s Casual League, 7-a-side, 7th November 2015

Neither the wild weather nor the lack of substitutes could halt the progress of the red-hot Rocks as they roared to a second successive league victory.

Strong in the tackle and moving the ball around with panache from the start, the Blues confirmed their early superiority with a goal which is already being spoken of as a contender for Dragons goal of the season. After marvellous link play from Ruth and KP, Bethan unleashed a terrific first-time strike from the centre-left side of the area, the ball whizzing off the outside of the foot into the right corner, giving the keeper no chance.  The pocket dynamo’s delight at scoring her first competitive goal was a real beam of sunshine for the drenched and windswept supporters, and although there was still plenty of work to be done, the team appeared determined to convert their control of the game into points.

It was a disappointment, then, to concede a scrappy equaliser midway through the half; but the Rocks would not be subdued, continuing to boss the play with Harriet marshalling the defence alongside a resolute Meg R, KP’s skill and strength dominating the midfield, the energy of Bethan and Amy flowing down the flanks and Ruth in top form as a composed, dependable focal point for the attack.

After several threatening raids on the Misfits goal, it was just reward then when KP celebrated her birthday with what proved to be the winner shortly before half time, making space for herself to finish in typically cool style.

As conditions worsened, the Misfits battled bravely in the second period, but the Dragons were Rock solid and might even have extended their lead—notably from a KP free kick which flew just over the bar.

Players, manager and supporters then returned to Cardiff to continue the birthday and victory celebrations and complete a memorable day for the Dragons women.

Well done to Bethan for being voted Dragon Rock of the match. Congratulations to the team for a wonderful performance, and to Ryan for his coaching and management, from all those supporters (including Dave Amos, Ali, Amy J, Phil, Sue and Darrin) who braved the squall, and from the whole Cardiff Dragons community.

Dragons scorers: Bethan 5, KP 19

HT 2-1

Dragons Rock: Eliza; Megan R, Harriet (C), KP, Amy, Bethan, Ruth.