Second finals win for Dragons
THE Marano’s Fuel Douglas United Dragons have made it back-to-back Division One Grand Final victories with a 3-1 win over the Mareeba Bulls at Endeavour Park on Friday night.
The match did not quite have the drama of last year’s final between the two sides however the spectators were kept on the edge of their seats throughout until the dying stages when the match was finally put beyond the reach of the Bulls.
The Dragons started the match strongly and remained very much on the front foot throughout the opening quarter of the match.
This early dominance was realised on the scoreboard when Adriano Gualtieri made a yard for himself on the edge of the box and fired into the bottom corner to send the travelling Dragons fans wild.
Gualtieri had a gilt edged chance to make it 2-nil moments later but he glanced his header wide of the post when it seemed easier to score.
This seemed to give boost to Mareeba who had a period where they were on top of proceedings.
They managed to force a number of set pieces and from one of these that was not dealt with by the Dragons, the ball found its way into the back of the net via a Mareeba player’s back.
While the Dragons had been the better of the two sides throughout the opening exchanges it was now the Bulls firmly on top and the Dragons were being forced to hang on.
Heath Melton in the Dragons goal made a vital double save which kept the score locked at 1-1 and then the Dragons were handed a massive boost when the Bulls skipper received his second yellow card for a silly foul on Dragons midfielder Gary Cunningham, reducing Mareeba to 10 men for the remainder of the match.
The second half saw a bit of a see-saw battle emerge with the Dragons making use of their man advantage for large portions of the match while still having moments of fragility that gave Mareeba hope of pinching the goal that might win the match for them.
The longer the clock ticked the more nervous the Dragons seemed to become so when Ross Delaney collected a deflected shot and stroked the ball through the keeper’s leg to give the Dragons the lead there was a massive sigh of relief around the ground.
Mareeba still pushed for a second equaliser and did manage to cause a couple of scary moments for the Dragons’ defence but a last gasp goal, brilliantly taken by Daniel Ferrero, made the game safe and the Dragons could bask in their back-to-back premiership wins.
The man of the match award went to Gary Cunningham who was his usual composed and influential self in the middle of the park.
The Dragons’ final match is this weekend against the comparable Townsville side in the Crad Evans trophy match down in Townsville which will be a great way for the Dragons to sign off on the season and celebrate what has been a successful year for the club.