Dragons ten minute meltdown costs dearly
THE Verri Industries Douglas United Dragons have squandered the chance to climb up the Far North Queensland Premier League ladder when letting a 3-goal lead slip against Stratford on Sunday night. It was definitely a case of two points lost rather than a point gained as the Dragons conceded three goals in the final six minutes to draw 4-4. The atmosphere after the game was one of defeat which summed up the feelings after the gut-wrenching end to the match.
All the early signs were that it would be a comfortable night for the Dragons with Ciaran Lemon opening the scoring in the first minute, getting his head on the end of Ian Marsh’s corner kick. From there the Dragons dominated possession creating a number of chances with Matty Smith in particular enjoying plenty of time and space against his former club. The weight of possession eventually told when Nick Tither’s ball from deep found Lemon again who volleyed spectacularly past the helpless Stratford keeper to make it 2-0.
The second half saw the Dragons out of the blocks quickly again with Nick Houghton latching onto Lemon’s through ball to lob the advancing keeping and mark his debut with a goal after just ninety seconds. At 3-0 the Dragons relaxed a little and allowed Stratford to begin to assert themselves on the match for the first time. Still the manner in which the Dragons conceded the first goal was inexcusable. A long punt from the opposition goal keeper was allowed to bounce and when the ball broke to a Stratford player he made no mistake, slotting the ball past Gary Fitzgerald in the Dragons goal.
This kicked the Dragons back into life and they began to pass the ball around again, once more causing the opposition problems. Twice they came close to re-establishing their three goal advantage before Nick Houghton was fouled in the area. Ciaran Lemon stepped up to slam the resulting penalty into the roof of the net to complete his hat-trick and restore the three goal cushion.
Inexplicably though the panic set in again for the Dragons with a number of passing going astray and possession being squandered too easily. When a fine ball from out wide on the Stratford left exposed the Dragons covering defence to make it 4-2 the alarm bells were starting to ring. The Dragons should still have been able to see out the result but still the ball was given away cheaply and still Stratford pressed forward. It became 4-3 in the 86th minute when Fitzgerald was unable to keep hold of a fierce shot with the rebound being poked home and as they surged forward in search of the equaliser the Dragons self destruction continued with a silly foul in the box and resulting penalty making it 4-4.
While there were plenty of positives from an attacking standpoint the inability of the Dragons to remain tight at the back is a very worrying sign. Next up for the Dragons is Leichardt next Sunday night in a match which takes on even greater importance.