On Friday night the Douglas United Dragons travelled to Mareeba to play the Bulls, another tough match against a top four side, this year’s second division is proving a lot tougher than previous years, as football is becoming more and more popular, and the bigger clubs are recruiting quality players.
Coming into this match undefeated, but having drawn the last two games, the Dragons needed to claw back some competition points, a full squad was available apart from Billy Pycroft who has a four game suspension.
The Bulls are known for their tough tackling, early in the game the Dragons were losing challenges and possession of the ball, the bouncy surface and narrow field took some getting used to.
The Dragons pushed down the flanks, Dan Ferrero and Manu Dominguez working hard and linking up with the wide midfielders but the final pass or shot not finding its mark. Mareeba were winning the tackles and high balls, and looked dangerous every time they entered Dragons’ territory. The Dragons continued to play the ball around the back and stretch the Bulls defence, but they never looked troubled.
It didn’t take long for the Bulls to capitalise on their dominance, a free kick 30 yards from goal was drilled in low to a Bulls striker on the 6-yard box, he turned quickly and the well struck shot had keeper Heath Melton beaten.
The Dragons looked a little rattled, they had to lift their game, Dan Tiffin leading by example with some great challenges in midfield, but the Dragons resurgence was soon smothered by the Bulls’ momentum. Late in the first half the Bulls won another corner, the ball was struck firmly to the far post, the Mareeba strikers seemed to outnumber the Douglas defence, the ball headed firmly down low and just inside the far post.
At half-time, Dragons’ Coach Andrew Robinson made several changes and challenged the Dragons to perform to their potential. The second half began with the Dragons showing signs of improvement, Tiffin showing some grit and quality in the midfield feeding the strikers with plenty of possession, Gary Cunningham also playing well and having a good chance in front of the Mareeba goal but the shot going wide. The Bulls not content with their 2-goal buffer were also looking for more, their wingers causing havoc getting in behind the Dragons defence, Adam Howell and Ben Syrett busy at the back thwarting the Bulls attacks.
The second half was evenly contested, the Dragons were tackling with more intent pushing forward but never looking dangerous, the final pass or shot wasn’t the quality that the Dragons are known for, the Bulls still looking dangerous weren’t able to add to their tally.
The nightmare ended with the referee blowing the final whistle, Dragons with their first loss of the season soundly beaten by a quality team who were a lot better on the night.
The Dragons now sit mid-table and will have to improve immensely if they are to retain their Premiership. This coming Friday, the Dragons will be at home facing Edge Hill United. The match kicks off at 7.30pm at the Port Douglas Sports Complex, everybody is welcome to come down and enjoy the BBQ, drinks and football.