Llanrumney, Men’s Sunday Lazarou League
13th March 2016
The unbeaten run came to a crashing end at the University Fields as runaway league leaders SET FC eventually wore down the resistance of a competitive Dragons eleven.
The opening exchanges were fairly even as the Dragons acclimatised to the sharpness, fitness, organisation and pace of their rivals. It was nevertheless SET who broke the offside line and the deadlock after nine minutes. But the Dragons dug in, worked their way into the game and produced a great chance to equalise following a dangerous run and cross from Liam. They were made to pay for squandering that opportunity when poor reactions from a corner saw the home side double their lead just before the half hour. Had an accurately-struck penalty from Muzz not been met by an outstanding full-length diving save, the half-time scoresheet may have been a fairer reflection of the balance of play; at this stage at least, the champions elect still knew they were in a game.
Optimism increased when Emyr angled a fine header into the net after 49 minutes direct from a Fudge throw. SET’s immediate and clinical response—revealing perhaps just why they are in the position they are—soon put a dampener on Dragons hopes, however. Increasingly stretched and disorganised, the Dragons conceded two more in the next fifteen minutes, and although they continued to carry some sporadic threat at the other end through the industry of Fudge and Mehdi, a sixth arrived to complete another resounding win for their rivals.
The conduct, discipline, teamwork and finishing ability of SET ought to be taken as an educational experience for the Dragons, who need not be too disheartened despite the scoreline, having provided serious competition for substantial periods of the game.
Many thanks to Anthony for dealing with the tricky touchline decisions, Amos for running the line, and Jerry, Darrin, Harriet, Christian and Liam’s entourage for coming to support.
Dragons scorer: Emyr 49
Cardiff Dragons: Ryan B; Neil (Craig), Chris G, Muzz, John A; Mehdi, Fudge, Emyr (C), George, Zak (Claudio); Liam (Adam).
Subs: Craig, Claudio, Adam.
Pontcanna Fields, Men’s Sunday Lazarou League
6th March 2016
The Dragons managed to extend their unbeaten run to seven games, despite a lumpy pitch, lively opponents and some contentious refereeing, though the run of victories ended in disappointing circumstances.
Most of the goal action occurred in the opening ten minutes. A shaky start led to the Saints catching the Dragons cold, cutting through far too easily until Chris, forced into a last ditch intervention, could unfortunately only steer the ball wide of Ryan and into his own net. Barely a minute had passed, and the home team, jolted into life, responded quickly, with some fine individual touches from Claudio and Emyr in particular, and it soon became apparent that the pace of Dan was too hot for the Saints defence to handle. Twice in quick succession the Aberdare Arrow raced clear, dancing round the keeper to slot in the equaliser, before putting the Dragons ahead with an accurate chip.
The rest of the game was a scrappy, sulky and fractious affair, with the underfoot conditions making controlled passing difficult and avoiding injury the priority (Christian unfortunately limping off after half an hour). A penalty could well have been awarded when Dan was brought down with fifteen minutes remaining, but chances were otherwise hard to come by. The Dragons would have taken the narrow victory but it was not to be, as the Saints profited from some late pressure to bundle the ball in from a corner with only five minutes remaining.
With some difficult fixtures on the horizon, the Reds will need to step up on this performance if their ambitions of a top-half finish are to be realised, but this squad is well capable of rising to the challenge.
Thanks to Anthony for managing, Chris’ family and Debbie for their great support, and Jason for raising the flag!
Dragons scorers: Dan 7, 9
Cardiff Dragons: Ryan B; Christian (Neil), Chris G, Muzz, John A (Adam); Mehdi, Fudge, Emyr (C), Claudio, Zak (Andy); Dan.
Subs: Adam, Andy, Neil, Jason.
Pontcanna Fields, Men’s Sunday Lazarou League
28th February 2016
The Dragons celebrated their first return fixture in the Sunday League by completing the double over Rangers in a free-flowing game.
Taking time to settle and organise the defence in front of rookie keeper Neil, the team conceded early ground and chances; but two impressive and crucial stops soon allayed any fears, and a breakaway chance for Dan, slotted between the keeper’s legs and narrowly wide, gave an indication of the Dragons threat. It took almost the entire half for the subsequent opportunities—as the team gradually seized control—to convert into goals, but a sharp counter-attack involving Fudge, Liam and Dan resulted in George breaking the deadlock with a superb piece of control and stunning finish after forty minutes.
Rangers attempted to turn up the heat, but in truth were more of a vocal than footballing irritant, and—despite an injury to Christian and defensive reshuffles—created little, whilst the Dragons front six were a constant danger, and when Liam beat the offside trap to guide a firm headed lob into the net just before the hour, matters appeared to be in hand. However, an almost immediate response from Michaelstone put the result back in the balance, and when a petulant kick out from one of their strikers failed to attract the referee’s censure doubts about the destiny of the points may have begun to arise. With Chris and Muzz in complete control at the back, George and Emyr competitive and creative in midfield, and Fudge’s enthusiastic running combining with the fast, skilful raids of Liam, Claudio and Dan to fill the opposition defence with panic, it would have been a travesty had the victory not been consolidated; both Claudio and Liam struck the uprights and shots from George, Dan and Claudio narrowly failed to extend the lead before captain Emyr popped up on the end of a Liam free kick to tuck in the third.
Once again, the Dragons demonstrated their ability to create chances and an impressive team spirit and solidarity in the face of provocative situations. Neil’s bravery in goal earned him the Dragon of the Day award, no mean feat in a squad of all-round excellence on the day. Congratulations to him, and to Anthony for managing the team to a sixth consecutive league win. Thanks also to Chris’, Liam’s and Adam’s families, Jerry, Amos and Darrin for turning up in the freezing wind to support, to Craig for a no-nonsense turn with the linesman’s flag, and to our opponents for their charm and sportsmanship.
Dragons scorers: George 41; Liam 58; Emyr 73
Cardiff Dragons: Neil; John A (Ryan M), Muzz, Chris, Christian (Adam); George, Emyr (C), Mehdi (Claudio), Liam, Fudge; Dan.
Pontcanna, Men’s Sunday Lazarou League
14th February 2016
With the Pontcanna swamps at last resembling something like a football pitch, the Dragons resumed their Lazarou League campaign by posting this resounding victory, which saw them climb into the top four.
The result, achieved against a numerically depleted bottom club, is probably not as impressive as it appears on paper; but the job still had to be done, and after such a lengthy hiatus it was pleasing to see the team in such dominant, creative and prolific form.
In truth, it took a while for the absolute dominance to translate into goals—some complacent and over-eager play in the final third combined with stubborn work from the Boyos defence keeping the scores level until the 22nd minute, when a neat through ball found George evading the offside trap to finish cleanly from just inside the box. This was one of over thirty shots on goal mustered by the Dragons during the game, and the first of a hat-trick which crowned a superb debut performance for which George was awarded Dragon of the Day. The second came in contrasting style—a bullet header from the pick of a series of well-taken corners from Christian (another Sunday league debut). Fudge picked his spot to add the third before the break after a brave challenge from Zak.
With the team freshened up by some positional and personnel changes in the second half (Claudio adding his name to the list of debutants), the attacking tide continued to rise, intensified by the tiring opposition, and the chances continued to flow. George slotted in his third following a sharp pass from Chris, then Emyr conjured up a late hat-trick of his own to give the scoresheet a more realistic look—though with greater match-sharpness it could surely have been many more. Credit is also due to Ryan in goal, who had only one save to make, from a very well struck free kick in the ninetieth minute, and preserved the clean sheet in cat-like fashion.
Well done to the squad, to Emyr for doubling up as captain and manager for the day (assisted by Darrin from the touchline), and to the many supporters who braved the chill wind.
Dragons scorers: George 22, 36, 48; Fudge 40; Emyr 76, 77, 87
Cardiff Dragons: Ryan B; Neil (Adam 45), Muzz, Chris G, John A (Dan 45); Zak (Claudio 45), Emyr, George, Christian, Liam; Fudge.
Subs: Craig, Adam, Claudio, Dan.