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