On Monday night the Douglas United Dragons played away against James Cook University. Last year’s JCU team has dropped down to 3rd Division and the new look JCU 2nd division team was formed by player/coach Jamie Gosling, like the Dragons they have enough talent to play in the Premier League but cannot yet meet the requirements of having two mens’ sides, a women’s side and a youth side.
Both teams go into this fixture unbeaten and this was going to be a real test for the Dragons against a well organised and talented football team. The reality of tonight was evident in the first five minutes when JCU scored, a long ball in behind the Dragons defence found a JCU striker who controlled the ball allegedly with a hand, the referee waived play on and he neatly finished with a low shot to the side of the Dragons goal.
The Dragons lifted and started to keep possession with some sharp passing, the JCU defence was fairly flat and their goalie looked a little inexperienced. The Dragons strikers had several shots which were just off target but they were making inroads. In the 25 minute, with a great run down the right flank from Nathan Borzi, he whipped in a low cross which was met by Adriano Gualtieri on the far post who buried it into the open goal, a training exercise from coach Andy Robinson which paid off.
Dragons midfield Gary Cunningham, Billy Pycroft and Dan Tiffin were winning the battle this allowed the strikers to push towards the JCU goal, the pressure paid off soon after with Gualtieri putting over a quality cross for striker Xavi Aranda to score with a neat header.
The Dragons defenders were playing well shutting down the regular attacks from JCU, however they were conceding many free kicks, the JCU experienced strikers going to ground whenever touched. This resulted in another free kick wide from the corner of the Dragons goal box, a rehearsed free kick saw the ball driven toward the near post, the JCU player side stepping out of the way of it, the Dragons defender following the JCU player and the ball sneaking inside the post with keeper Heath Melton unable to get across to it.
The game was becoming a real see-saw battle between probably the two best sides in the competition. The Dragons team were up for the match, having a game away to Atherton on Friday and the short turnaround didn’t slow them down, they were peppering the JCU goal with shots, Dan Ferrero coming close on several occasions and Gualtieri having an incredible game on the left beating players at will. Gualtieri put in another quality corner, Adam Howell using his height advantage and heading prowess to rise high and head the ball powerfully into the top corner of the JCU net.
This caused a tidal wave of attacks from JCU, they weren’t going down easily, a JCU striker pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the Dragons box, he turned and fired off a swerving volley, keeper Melton just getting a finger to it and putting around the post, the resulting corner resulting in a free header from point blank range, again Melton was there and tipped it over the crossbar. The Dragons were hanging on by a thread, they couldn’t stem the flow of the JCU dominance. Another corner to JCU was driven in towards the near post it was flicked on through several players, Darren Ross and Melton tried to clear it off the goal line but it was deflected in.
The last 15 minutes saw the Dragons push for the win, JCU seemed happy to hang on for a draw. Rodrigo Ignacio Cabezas Navarro come on up front for the Dragons the talented south American striker having recently signed for the Dragons, he was looking dangerous up front with several good runs but ran out of time as the referee blew full time on a very entertaining match. 3-3 was probably a fair result, but Dragons will have the extra advantage of being at home for the return match.