Dragons put on top show

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT -

A BRACE from debu­tant Ciaran Lemon and a bul­let header from Matty Smith gave the Verri In­dus­tries Dou­glas United Dragons a 3-2 vic­tory over Strat­ford at Cas­sowary Park on Satur­day night.

The re­sult sees the Dragons move into third place on the com­pe­ti­tion lad­der and while there were out­stand­ing per­for­mances all over the pitch, it was North­ern Ir­ish­man Lemon who stole the spot­light with a com­mand­ing dis­play in the mid­dle of the park.

A much-im­proved per­for­mance was needed from the Dragons af­ter an aw­ful show­ing against South­side the pre­vi­ous week and the signs were good from the out­set with the Dragons con­trol­ling pos­ses­sion and pass­ing the ball well through the back four and into the mid­field. Un­for­tu­nately striker Ja­son Fox, who was mak­ing his first team de­but, was caught in two nasty chal­lenges early on and was forced off with a sus­pected frac­tured an­kle, to be re­placed by Eu­gene Brown.

This change, along with a change in for­ma­tion, al­lowed the Dragons to bet­ter deal with the ex­tra man in mid­field that Strat­ford had been us­ing to rea­son­able ef­fect.

Brown, play­ing along­side his cousin Lemon, had his best game in a Dou­glas shirt and an­chored the mid­field ef­fec­tively, break­ing up a num­ber of op­po­si­tion at­tacks and us­ing the ball ef­fi­ciently.

The Dragons took the lead late in the first-half when the ball fell to Lemon in the box and the mid­fielder made no mis­take, curl­ing the ball past the Strat­ford keeper with his left peg.

The Dragons held pos­ses­sion for larger pe­ri­ods in the sec­ond half and Strat­ford rarely caused the Dragons’ de­fence prob­lems but as the game wore on they be­gan forc­ing a num­ber of cor­ners and from these they were look­ing threat­en­ing. When one corner was not cleared ef­fec­tively the re­bound fell to a Strat­ford player and he smashed the ball home to tie the scores up at 1-1.

Just when it seemed that Strat­ford were get­ting on top, how­ever, a de­light­ful ball in from right back Valen­tine Akem again fell to Lemon in the box and af­ter a bit of a scram­ble he poked home from six yards to re­store the Dragons’ lead.

Akem capped a fan­tas­tic per­for­mance by de­liv­er­ing an­other sen­sa­tional cross for Matty Smith to meet at the far post with an ab­so­lutely un­stop­pable header to send the Dragons and their sup­port­ers into rap­tures.

Strat­ford lashed an un­stop­pable vol­ley into the far corner of the net late in the game.

Coach Lo­gan Marsh was de­lighted with the re­sult that sees the Dragons move into the play-off spots for the first time this year.

“Tonight was a great per­for­mance by the lads. I thought the first-half was the best 45 min­utes I’ve seen from a Dragons’ side in a good while,” Marsh said.

Paddy’s Bar man of the match went to Valen­tine Akem who de­fended su­perbly, used the ball in­tel­li­gently and set up two goals with pin­point crosses.

The Verri In­dus­tries’ Dragons take a trip to Le­ichardt on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

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