Dragons put on top show
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.