On Saturday 23rd February 2019 London took the 12 hour round trip to take on Middlesbrough in the National Premier League as they continue their quest for their first championship.
After a convincing home victory a few weeks prior, London faced a different challenge in Middlesbrough playing on a maximum size rink of 44x22m and after a very long bus journey.
The Dragons dominated possession early on and looked particularly lively in the opening 10 minutes, creating a number of well-worked chances, but they
struggled to find the final pass, any real rhythm or the net. Meanwhile they had to be alert defensively understanding that the hosts brought their own threats. While London controlled the first half, it was still relatively even (London making just 1 substitution) yet shaping up to be quite a humdrum affair; the teams going into the break at 0-0.
The second half turned out to be similar to the first, but significantly slower as both teams seemed too nervous to take risks and fully attack each other with any real rhythm or pace to their attacks. While London maintained the majority of possession Middlesbrough began to slowly control more of their own attacks. First blood, however, did go to the visitors after some play around the goal cage ended with Arroyo sneaking the ball in. Heavy rotation ensued for London, which led Middlesbrough to get back into the game which they took full advantage of. Although Marti saved a penalty to his mid-left, a strange blue card ensued soon after for a push behind the goal, and the direct free hit was scored after a roll shot found its way off Marti’s glove and into the roof of the net. With 10 minutes to go the scores were level.
With London back to 4 players they immediately began to move the ball and press the opposition, desperately seeking a winner. While the game picked up its pace towards its end neither team created many clear chances. In the final 5 minutes the match became quite open with both teams holding the ball and trying to work openings, but unfortunately for London it was just a little too late to find that speed, rhythm and team play needed to break down their opponents. The game ended 1-1.
After an all round underwhelming day for the Dragons, London can now at least look to making amends with their next game at home to Herne Bay United on Saturday 9th March at the Den.
Starting 5: Marti (GK), N. Santos, Arroyo, De Figueiredo, Otero – Biancardi, Maruszak (C), Comba, Gonzalez, C. Santos (GK) – Coach: Gisbert