Broadfields 0 v 1 Kensington Dragons Firsts
A visit to Harefield Utd where Broadfields ground share gave Dragons the opportunity to express themselves on a quality playing surface and a taste of the sort of facilities they hope to become accustomed to over the coming years. A full squad available but a slight reshuffle from the Manager with captain Luke O’Donoghue coming back into the midfield after an injury lay off and Dean Humphrey being moved back to central defence saw Hamilton Bowler, Madalitso Mkoloma and Tom Madden make up a very strong bench.
Dragons started the brighter, exploiting the space with wingers Ricardo Ramos and Zaine Gungadeen testing the Broadfields keeper early on. It was Gungadeen who brought the first golden chance for Dragons to open the scoring, beating two before crossing to the back post for striker George Mariner to have a free header from 3 yards which he somehow put wide.
Ramos then forced the smartest save with a thunderous free kick from 25 yards which was tipped onto the bar for a corner. He took the resulting corner which fell to the imposing Humphrey to smash home from close range.
Broadfields began to fight their way back into the game with some physical challenges, one which would see Geoff Nalu Mosa have to retire early on 20 mins with a swollen ankle and be replaced with Madden. Dragons responded in kind and the ref was forced to lay down his marker with two first half bookings for Broadfields and one for Dragons’ CM Pav Bhangoo. The space however was in the wide areas and Dragons were making the most of it when right back Sam Cole stormed forward on a mazy run beating four players, cutting into the 6 yard box with only the keeper to beat. The team held their breath waiting for Cole to finally break his 3 year duck only for him to fluff his lines completely and chip the ball straight into the keeper’s arms.
0-1 at half time and Manager De Souza had little to complain about other than the lack of a clinical edge. The game was there for the taking but that all import second goal had eluded them so far. Dragons retook to the field and began as they left off, exploiting the space out wide and in behind the Broadfields defence. A sweeping move from left to right saw Ramos clear on goal only for him to shoot wide from 12 yards. Dragons frustrations were growing and despite calls to stay on his feet, Bhangoo went in late on a Broadfields midfielder near the touch line and the ref pulled the yellow card out again and then the red. With 35 mins still to go, it would take an almighty effort from the 10 men to claim the 3 points required. De Souza acted accordingly, Gungadeen and the unlucky Madden came off and Mkoloma and Bowler came on. Bowler back into his CB berth pushing Humphrey in to bolster a 3 man midfield with O’Donoghue and Mkoloma. Ramos was left in the hole and Mariner up top.
Dragons worked tirelessly to a man, closing the space from the half way line and hitting Broadfields on the break. Ramos was put through 3 more times 1v1 with the keeper but failed again to break the deadlock. His last attempt did see him round the keeper, put the ball in the net only for the linesman to somehow call a handball and the goal was disallowed. Debutant keeper Daniel Byers showed why he’d been given the nod when a 20 yard free kick fizzed in during the 5 mins of injury time but it stuck to his safe hands and as he cleared up the pitch the ref blew and Dragons had secured their second clean sheet in a row.
The full squad was put to the test but they came through as a group and with Cricklewood and Hackney winning again, all 3 refuse to release their grip in the chase for the title.