On Friday night the Douglas United Dragons hosted Innisfail United in front of a boisterous crowd, including a very vocal football team from Adelaide who were on holidays. It was a very windy night with the odd shower so it was going to be a game dominated by the elements. The Dragons were close to full strength and welcomed the return of Billy Pycroft, back from suspension.
The Dragons had the strong wind behind their backs for the first half, hoping to use the advantage and score as many goals as possible.
And what a start it was, Pycroft with his first touch in four weeks skilfully beating his man, and another, then another and from the left corner of the goal box he drove the ball with his left foot across the face of goal, off the post and in for a fantastic solo effort and probably the fastest goal of the season in the 38th second!
Dragons 1 – 0
Coach Andy Robinson had told the players the wind was going to play a big part in the match, probably a three or four goal advantage. The Dragons continued to dominate the game, some sharp passing on the flanks, Adriano Gualtieri and Manu Dominguez beating players and probing towards the Innisfail goal. Several powerful wind assisted shots just going wide. Innisfail finally ventured down to the Dragons goal and won a corner, the ball was driven over, it was missed by all the Dragons and an Innisfail player headed the ball powerfully against the Dragons crossbar, they weren’t going to lie down. The possession and sharp passing soon paid off in the 15th minute, Rodriguez Navarro given the ball 40 metres from goal, he neatly weaved between several defenders leaving him alone with the goal keeper and slotted the ball into the side of the neat.
Dragons 2 – 0
Ben Syrett was enjoying a strong game down the right flank linking up with the hard-tackling Nathan Borzi. Syrett swung over a far post cross from out wide, the strong wind blowing the ball closer to the goal, it lobbed over the keeper and in.
Dragons 3 – 0
Was that going to be enough now that Innisfail had the wind in the second half?
The Dragons started well in the second half, keeping the ball low and inching down the pitch but it didn’t take long for Innisfail to start pumping the ball long, using the wind and pressuring the Dragons defence, Adam Howell and Chris Allan Baker clearing the ball, but it was coming back shortly after.
A loose ball in the penalty area and a volley from an Innisfail striker, the ball palmed away by keeper Heath Melton, shortly after another shot coming close. The Dragons were starting to show some cracks and in the 65th minute another failed clearance saw the Innisfail striker blast the ball into the side of the net.
Dragons 3 – 1
The crowd were chanting and encouraging the Dragons, showers were coming in horizontal into the faces of the Dragons and strong gusts blowing the ball around making it difficult to push forward. Innisfail swung over another cross in the 80th minute, the ball going the far post, the striker waiting for it, he headed the ball powerfully down, it ricochet off a Dragons back and bounced up over the diving Melton.
Dragons 3 – 2
….and getting a little rattled.
Midfielder Gary Cunningham was injected into the game, only being used if really needed as he is on baby watch with the impending birth of his first child. Cunningham and Pycroft began to win the ball back and feed it out to the wingers, Dan Ferrero and Dominguez getting in behind Innisfail, the Dragons were starting to get back into the game which had been dominated by Innisfail.
In the 86th minute, Syrett sealed the victory with a tidy finish, receiving the ball on the edge of the Innisfail box, his low well placed shot beating the keeper.
winners in a game largely dominated by the strong wind, a big ‘thank you’ to the boys from Adelaide who came along to support us and to Matty Smith for his work behind the scenes.