Cardiff Dragons 1 – 2 Grange Celts

Match report

University Fields, Llanrumney, Men’s 11-a-side Lazarou League Cup

24th April 2016

Only a late breakaway winner denied the Dragons the chance of a massive Cup upset after outplaying their Premier Division opponents for much of this tie.

Four Lazarou League tiers separated the two teams, but it was clear from the outset that the Dragons were in no way intimidated. In fact, they soon began to boss the game from back to front, consolidating a strong base with some very calm, accurate and progressive passing from all four defenders and moving the ball smoothly through a dominant midfield—knitted together by the powerful focus of Craig—to create the most potent early threats on goal.  It was rough justice then when the Celts took the lead on their first foray forward, seizing on a rare loose moment to strike from inside the area.  But the Dragons soon recovered their shape, rhythm and composure, Zak’s athletic interpretation of the holding role unleashing skills and movement from George, Emyr, Mehdi and Christian (prematurely replaced by Adam following a clash of heads) which repeatedly tore through the opposition.  Only the finishing touch was lacking, though Emyr, George, Mehdi and Craig all had presentable opportunities before the break.

The second half saw a switch of wingers and a tactical reshuffle, and as the impetus grew, George headed firmly just over the bar from one of several corners. The Dragons were first to every ball against their tiring rivals, whose only response was to hack at the superior Red midfielders with a series of cynical fouls.  Not content with watching the likes of George, Emyr and Fudge run rings round the Celts, Chris and Stefan both enjoyed mazy excursions into enemy territory; but it was George himself whose dance through a desperate defence brought the deserved equaliser with ten minutes remaining.  The Dragons continued to press for the winner at the risk of exposing themselves to the direct counter, and unfortunately the Premier League side capitalised in the dying minutes, cutting in from the left to find the winner from an acute angle.  Even in the little time remaining, an excellent move culminated in Emyr manufacturing one last hope of extra time following a fine run, but his low centre was turned narrowly wide.

Despite the result this was a performance of great maturity, with all the elements—strength, pattern, confidence and composure on the ball, intelligent movement, energy, unity of purpose and determination—of a very promising football team in the making. Congratulations to the squad for a collective Dragon of the Day award, thanks to a host of supporters (some of whom stayed up specially to attend!) and a massive pat on the back to Anthony for his astute work from the dugout.

Dragons scorer: George 55

HT 0-1

Cardiff Dragons: Ryan B; Neil (Ryan M), Chris, Fudge, Stefan; Zak, George, Emyr (C), Christian (Adam), Mehdi; Craig (Muzz).

Cardiff Dragons 1 – 5 Village Manchester

Match report

Mixed Gender 11-a-side GFSN League

University Fields, Llanrumney, 23rd April 2016

GFSN Vs Village Manchester

A strong mixed squad gave one of the iconic clubs of LGBT football a real scare before finally yielding.

In the final GFSN League fixture of the season, the Dragons maintained the progression of recent displays to produce perhaps their most cohesive performance yet. The return of Muzz and Emyr—both absent from the Yorkshire defeat—added increased competitiveness and creativity respectively, and the two combined after ten minutes to produce a shock lead.  After a foul on Harriet just outside the box, the captain surprised Village with an intentionally (hmmm…) scuffed effort, which Muzz seized upon to stroke in from close range.  With John and Fudge in impassable mood, Hennie having her best game yet and Harriet, Darrin, Meg H and Emyr covering acres of ground to limit midfield space, the Dragons held their advantage with commitment and determination, always looking to pounce on the counter through the varied options of Ruth and Charlotte.  Ryan M’s goalkeeping sequel seemed on the way to matching the rave reviews of his previous heroics in London, until a Manchester corner was met by a powerful header which his and Darrin’s combined efforts could not prevent crossing the goal line.

With Jason, Meg R, Beth and Jerry introduced, Village pressed for the lead during the period of readjustment; but despite their increased possession and a string of corners they found the fresh batch of Dragons as obdurate as their predecessors, and the teams entered the break on level terms.

Forced into a tactical rethink and even a change of keeper, Manchester explored every avenue to find a way through, and were rewarded early in the second half with a well-taken goal. Despite another reshuffle—the introduction of Liam in particular adding menace to the Dragons attacking efforts—the visitors extended their lead when a ball deliberately bounced directly onto Meg R’s hand, which for some reason was considered a penalty offence!  It was tough on Meg, who had a storming game at full-back, and on the team, who fought all the way through an open and lively second half, their best chance narrowly evading Ruth after a run from Liam.

Two late goals put a flattering gloss on the result for the away side, but they were ultimately worthy winners and sporting opponents, who joined the Dragons for post-match food, live football and later on a very civilised and sophisticated soiree in the City centre, where a little drink was taken.

Muzz and Emyr shared the Dragon of the Day vote from nine nominations, illustrating the depth of the performance. The GFSN squad continue to grow in belief and experience, and there are very encouraging signals as we look to build on this year’s tough initiation next season.  Well done to Anthony on deploying his resources so skilfully, and thanks to Amos, Sue, Rhys, Cara, Donna, Little Dragon Alex and anyone I may have forgotten for coming to support, and to Craig for the whistling.

As a summary of the league this season, the results may not look the best on paper but our journey has been about so much more than that. We have revisited the drawing board, opened up the team selection, had lots of players making their debuts and have had more female players in the GFSN this season than ever before in Dragons history. Players have gained so much invaluable game time, development & experience. There’s no doubt it’s a fantastic foundation to build on for next season.

Dragons scorer: Muzz

HT 1-1

Cardiff Dragons: Bethan, Charlotte, Darrin, Emyr (C), Fudge, Harriet, Hennie, Jason, Jerry, John A, Liam, Meg H, Meg R, Muzz, Ruth, Ryan M.

IMG_2470Cardiff Dragons V Mersey Marauders GFSN 2015

Cardiff Dragons 2 – 3 Cogan FC

Match report

University Fields, Llanrumney, Men’s 11-a-side Lazarou League

17th April 2016

The Dragons will be glad to see the back of their rivals from across the Ely after suffering a second narrow defeat to the light blues in seven days.

Following last week’s heart-breaking cup exit, it seemed the team had learned enough about their opponents to have their measure this time round, dominating the early exchanges and stifling Cogan’s midfield passing game. But the Dragons failure to capitalise on some killer final balls was punished when the away side went in front after twenty minutes, a moment’s fatal hesitation over a disputed offside allowing them to nip behind the defence.  A superb swinging free kick from Liam just before the break raised hopes of a leveller, but even the spring-heeled George couldn’t quite get over the ball sufficiently to direct it on target.

As has often been the case, however, the interval had a galvanising effect on the reds, and with George, Zak and Dan all seeing more of the ball in dangerous areas, they managed to turn the score around within twenty minutes: first Zak picked up the pieces from a corner to drive low through a crowd of players, then George slotted home decisively from the penalty spot after Christian was clattered to the turf with the goal in his sights. Cogan responded almost immediately with a lovely curling effort, yet the Dragons still looked the likelier winners.  A shocking tackle on Zak may have been met with more than yellow by a less lenient referee as the away team’s frustration grew. In terms of the league table, a point was not going to suffice for either side, and caution was thrown to the winds.  Liam struck the foot of the post with a free kick, and both Adam and Muzz had close-range opportunities, but when Cogan broke away with a minute remaining, not even the formidable attentions of Chris and Baker could prevent them working the decisive finish.

It was a cruel outcome, but the Dragons proved once again they are more than able to compete with the best in their division, and with fifth place all but certain this result should not overshadow the tremendous progress the team has made under Anthony’s guidance through the season.

Thanks to all of the squad, the manager, Craig for his linesman’s duties, and to our supporters.

Dragons scorers: Zak 50; George 55

HT 0-1

Cardiff Dragons: Ryan B; John A (C) (Neil), Muzz, Chris, Stefan; Zak, George, Fudge (Adam), Mehdi (Christian); Liam, Dan.

Subs: Neil, Christian, Adam.

Dragon of the Day: George.

Cardiff Dragons 2 – 2 Cogan FC (AET: Cogan win 5-4 on pens)

Match report

Trelai Park, Men’s WIWO Fourth Divisional Cup Quarter Final

10th April 2016

Two evenly matched sides contested a pulsating cup tie at windswept Trelai, with the Dragons exiting the tournament on penalties.

Cogan took advantage of conditions in the first half, snatching the lead from close range whilst the Dragons struggled to get the ball down and play in their favoured style. Both Emyr and Liam forced saves, but there were few real chances for the Dragons, who nevertheless kept their defensive shape well enough to restrict opportunities at the other end.  A series of niggling fouls from Mehdi drew a yellow card, but the Reds can have few complaints about this or the half-time score.

With the wind behind them, the second period was a different matter for the Dragons, however; Liam’s corner produced a simple chance for Fudge to tap in the equaliser from close range, and with Cogan running out of attacking ideas, the pressure built. Both Zak and Emyr had fine opportunities to tilt the balance of the game from inside the box, but the sky blues held out to force extra time.

After again falling behind, the Dragons began a frantic assault on the Cogan goal in the dying stages of the tie. With both central defenders thrown forward, the opposition finally crumbled when a cross-shot from Liam deflected into the net off a desperate defender.

Although the Dragons lost out in a tense shoot-out by the odd converted penalty in nine, it was a brave performance—and better news followed when their opponents in the Lazarou League Challenge Cup withdrew, presenting the team with a chance to progress into the fourth round of the more prestigious competition.

Well done to John A on the strong, consistent performance which won him Dragon of the Match, and thanks to Amos for running the touchline, Claudio and Dave W the unused squad members, and Debbie, Laura, Harriet, Meg H, Claire and Jerry for their support.

Dragons scorers: Fudge 54; Liam 105

HT 0-1

FT 1-1

Cardiff Dragons: Ryan B; John A, Muzz, Chris, Christian (Adam); Emyr, Ryan M, Fudge, Mehdi (Zak); Liam, Craig (Neil).

Subs: Neil, Zak, Claudio, Adam, Dave W.

Cardiff Dragons 2 – 2 Radyr Rangers

Match report

Pontcanna, Men’s Sunday Lazarou League

3rd April 2016

Despite several key absentees, the Dragons dented the hopes of their promotion-chasing opponents with a fully deserved late equaliser.

In an open and keenly contested encounter (restricted by fixture congestion to sixty minutes) Rangers provided some early scares before the Reds got to grips with their efficient but predictable style of play and began to show an attacking threat of their own. Prompted by George’s eye for a penetrating ball, Craig and Dan began to work the away defence, resulting in several dangerous corners.  The Dragons were caught by a sucker-punch, however, when Rangers broke clear to deliver a cross which could only be dealt with at the expense of an own goal. But the response was spirited, and within eight minutes Dan was freed, exploiting a weakness on the right of the Radyr defence to burst into the area and supply a cool finish.

A first point of the season against a top-three side would have been an acceptable result at this stage, and the teams continued to share possession and opportunities equally until Rangers regained the advantage after a controversial clash with Ryan in goal. Again the Dragons rallied—this time with real passion, commitment and attacking intent—producing a series of chances, corners and dangerous moves with substitute Claudio at their heart.  The tactical gamble of throwing Chris into the forward mix finally paid off when, following an excellent passing sequence between Christian, Mehdi, George and Claudio, the centre-back burst through to finish high into the net from a difficult angle with just two minutes remaining.

The ‘G Force’ was rightly rewarded with Dragon of the Match, though the whole squad did the club proud on every level. Congratulations are also due to Anthony for making some inspired decisions from the touchline.  Thanks to all our supporters—walking wounded Muzz and Liam, Laura, Debbie, John L, Jerry, Louis and Tito, and Claire for special vocal effects.

Dragons scorers: Dan 27, Chris 58

HT 1-1

Cardiff Dragons: Ryan B; Neil, Chris, Fudge, Christian; George, Ryan M (Claudio), John A (C), Mehdi; Dan, Craig (Dave W).

Subs: Claudio, Dave W.