THE Verri Industries Douglas United Dragons travelled to Stratford on Saturday evening knowing a victory against third place Stratford was the key to staying in touch with the top sides in the Premier League.
Having spent the week concentrating on defending and working on keeping possession, the Dragons were devastated to concede early on from a set piece, a towering header from a Stratford defender breaking the deadlock.
The Dragons hit back immediately, and this time it was their turn to score from a set piece.
A see-saw battle ensued, and it was no surprise a set piece was responsible for the next goal.
Suspicions of a foul throw didn’t prevent the referee from awarding a goal to Stratford as a long throw in wasn’t dealt with and finished in the back of the net courtesy of an Ollie Moffat deflection.
Half time was a case of dejavu for the Dragons, behind on the scoreboard but aware they were still very much in the contest.
Moffat was the first into action in the second half, and this time it was in the opposition’s box - showing composure and holding off a couple of challenges he calmly slotted home to make the scores level.
Once again though it was their defending that let them down and from the kick-off they somehow found themselves behind for the third time, again the ball took a deflection, but more worrying was the lack of organisation defensively from the kick off.
Credit is due to the character of the Dragons though, as their heads didn’t drop and they went in search of an equaliser.
The league’s top goalscorer Jamie Gosling managed to get into some space out wide on the left, and having left a couple of defenders for dead he made no mistake from the edge of the area to equalise.
Matty Smith playing against his former club was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when fouled in the box, the referee instead decided the foul was committed outside the area.
Both sides went in search of the winner, both created chances, but the final score stayed at 3-3.
Martyn Friars was man of the match after tormenting the opposition full back, and putting a fine display in for 90 mins.
The Dragons were also involved in a cup competition quarter final against Redlynch on Tuesday evening.
With a few players out and an opportunity to rotate the squad coach James Turner was happy to come away with a result, but not so happy with the first half performance.
After making a few changes having gone behind 1-0, he was happy with Ashley Woods and Luke Finney scoring to get ahead, and Jamie Gosling scoring two to put the result beyond doubt, running away with the game at 4-1. Ollie Moffat was awarded man of the match.
The side head into Saturday’s game at Cassowary Park against the FNQ Fusion coached by former coach Doug Baird which should be a fantastic game of football with both sides looking at playing a possession based game and Baird’s youngsters looking to learn from former pro Gosling.
Douglas reserves kick off at 5pm, and the premiers kick off at 7pm.