Douglas Unitied's championship bid hits another speed bump

By Logan Marsh

Published Wednesday 11 May 2016

The Douglas United Dragons have suffered back-to-back 3-2 losses in the past week to leave them on a slippery slope in their bid for consecutive championships.

While there were signs of encouragement, a lack of fitness and cutting edge has ultimately cost the Dragons any chance of points in their fixtures against Leichhardt midweek and Atherton on Friday evening.

With their next fixture being against ladder leaders Mareeba it will require a vastly improved performance if the Dragons are to arrest their slide down the table. First up during the week was a trip to a Leichhardt side stacked with a core of up and coming talent and a few ex first graders.

The Dragons started slowly but were able to prevent the home side from taking the lead in the early exchanges. As the Dragons settled they looked more and more threatening and were awarded a dubious penalty when Daniel Haughton was adjudged to have been fouled in the area.

Dan Ferrero stepped up and confidently tucked away the spot kick. Houghton had an even better appeal for a penalty turned down later in the half which, along with a couple of other half chances would have seen the Dragons with a measure of control in the fixture Instead the penalty was not forthcoming and an error in defence allowed Leichardt to end the half on level terms.

The Lions superior fitness saw them dominate almost the entirety of the second half.

This dominance saw them win a penalty, albeit contentiously, which they converted and score from open play after carving the Dragons open time after time. The Dragons were able to close the gap to just one goal when Man of the Match Daniel Ferrero scored his second of the evening but ultimately it was too little too late.

The second defeat was somewhat harder to stomach given the Dragons twice took the lead in their grand final rematch against Atherton. First, new signing Adriano Gualtieri smashed home from the edge of the area following good link up play with Baz Fellows and Ferrero. Ferrero and Luke Seaton both spurned chances to put the Dragons in complete control of the fixture, missing a handful of chances between them while the Dragons set piece delivery left a lot to be desired.

As has been the case already this season the Dragons were left to rue their profligacy although this time they were rightly aggrieved. An innocuous ball to the far post was headed towards goal with keeper Ben Syrett seeming to deal with the situation comfortably. However the young linesman flagged claiming the ball had crossed the line and a goal was controversially awarded.

The Dragons were able to once again take the lead when the Atherton keeper made a hash of a routine catch. Fellows was on hand to tap the ball home and restore the advantage.

Unfortunately for the Dragons the second half was an exact replica of the game in midweek with Atherton coming on strongly throughout the second period.

Were it not for some wasteful finishing and some determined goal keeping from Syrett things could have got embarrassing for the Dragons. As it was the Eagles managed an equaliser with about twenty minutes remaining and then went on to secure the victory with just seconds remaining as Syrett was unable to deal with a direct free kick.