Kensington Dragons 3 v 2 Deportivo
The Dragons faced their second game of the week knowing again that only maximum points would do. The Manager rotated the squad giving starts to Jonathan Kasongo, Ali Soussi and Seymour Scott leaving a strong bench of Luke O’Donoghue, Dean Humphrey and George Mariner.
It was a slow start from both sides with neither really gaining an advantage in possession. Deportivo however were playing a high line and on several occasions a simple ball in behind was releasing the attacking Dragons only for the assistant’s flag to repeatedly halt play. The first real chance however came when Ali Soussi beat the offside trap and found himself clear through but his lob over the keeper nestled on the roof rather than in the net. As Dragons were working their way into the game it was Deportivo who struck first. Left back Seymour Scott swept up a bouncing through ball only for the assistant to raise his flag claiming he had handled it and the referee who had not seen the incident duly awarded a penalty which the Deportivo striker fired home past keeper David Hills. 0-1.
The disappointment was evident across the pitch for the home side but some rallying cries from the touchline saw them raise their heads and press on. Kasongo and Maddy Mkoloma in the heart of the midfield were now starting to take control. A good 10min spell saw Dragons win a corner. Geoff Nalu Mosa floated in the cross which dropped for a goal mouth scramble and Soussi’s shot hit a Deportivo arm and the referee evened the stakes by pointing to the spot. Nalu Mosa stepped up confidently and fired low and hard into the corner 1-1. Keen not to lose the momentum, captain Mkoloma pushed the team on and after winning possession in the midfield drifted a perfect ball in behind the full back for winger Ricardo Ramos to control, take across the defender and score to put Dragons into the lead. 2-1 at the break.
What was supposed to have been a 6pm KO had been delayed to 6.15pm as the Deportivo players drifted in late. Consequently the officials had decided only 80mins could be played with the fading light. Manager De Souza had planned halftime rotations but as the starting 11 had only just hit their stride, he sent the same team back out in the hope of completing the job. However, the same old story came back again with Dragons missing chance after chance. First Ramos clear through again dragged his shot wide from 6 yards. Then the opposite winger Zaine Gungadeen was clear through and opted to shoot from the angle with 2 players free in the middle. The keeper saved and another chance lost. Another 6 clear opportunities were halted by the assistants flag as the Dragons young front line failed to show the composure and savvy to beat Deportivo’s high line. 20mins to go and O’Donoghue came on for Nalu Mosa. Mkoloma was pushed up behind the striker and Kasongo and O’Donoghue sat in the midfield.
The game was becoming stretched and Dragons were not using the ball as well as they should. Both teams seemed intent on attacking and it was Deportivo looking the more likely to score. Their first chance came from a corner with a back post header sent screaming towards the net only for Hills to pull off a remarkable save clawing the ball from behind him out and away. He could do little about the next chance however. Deportivo worked it well down the right hand side and whipped a ball to the penalty spot and the midfielder steamed onto it powering his header into the Dragons net. 2-2 with 10mins left on the clock.
De Souza rang the changes bringing on Kamal Romain for his first team debut at right back and Dean Humphrey on for Gungadeen. The shape also changed with Humphrey coming into a 3 man midfield with Mkoloma in front. The wingers were sacrificed and Billy Maxwell and Ramos played centrally as strikers. Dragons pressed on and began to dominate physically. The Deportivo challenges became ever more desperate and one saw Ramos taken down just inside the oppositions half with 3mins left. Dragons piled forward awaiting the kick from CB Hamilton Bowler. As he fired it towards the back post, the giant Mkoloma rose to nod down into the space. O’Donoghue pounced on the second ball taking it wide round the keeper and swivelled to cross back across to find Humphrey waiting to fire in with his head. A jubilant Dragons knew they had given themselves a lifeline in the title race and saw the last few moments out to take the 3 points.
Truly a great squad performance with Mariner not even getting on shows the depth and unity of the group and a fully fit squad looks forward to 2nd placed Cricklewood away on Saturday.