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Recap: Jeonnam Dragons 1 - 2 Gwangju FC

(image via dragons.co.kr)
Jeonnam fails to hold early lead at home and concedes late to lose their third out of five and remain winless on the season. Set pieces and poor referring were the main talking points on the day, but there's plenty more to look at in the Good, Bad, and Ugly recap.

The Good
Lineup: After four games with at least 4-5 changes per week, we finally saw a largely unchanged side after a slightly dull, but notable draw against then league leaders Seongnam on the road. After strong showings, goalkeeper Lee Ho-seung, center back Lee Ji-nam, and youngster Ko Tae-won all returned to the backline. The lone difference in the starting XI was the return of Jugović to the center of the pitch. For a team struggling in most aspects of the game, the attempt at consistency and rewarding positive performances is definitely a welcome change of pace.

Mislav Oršić: The Dragons put a lot of trust in the 23-year-old Croatian this offseason with a rumored $1 million transfer, and so far he's proving to be a wise investment. Not only was he consistently a threat during the game, but his already impressive set piece abilities have grown to new levels and he bagged an absolute worldy yesterday with a perfectly placed ball that nearly kissed the far corner. He may not be able to save Jeonnam's season all by himself, but as the only man with multiple goals this year he sure as hell is trying.

Offensive substitutions: This probably shouldn't be quite as noteworthy as it is, but seeing the Dragons actually make offensive substitutions is a lovely change from the norm. The substitutions this season have been madly baffling and largely defensive in nature, so it was nice to see Jeonnam at least attempting to put the ball in the back of the net in a close game. Cho Suk-jae game into the game way too late, but that's another issue for another time. Though the choices were better, Football Radar's Miroslav Tramita rightly pointed out on Twitter that the change in tactics may have had more to do with manager Noh Sang-rae being sent to the locker room than an actual sea change. Hopefully it's a strategy that will come into play more often while Noh has control of the team. However much longer that may be...

The Bad
Set Piece Defending: The Dragons' lead lasted all of five minutes because they were punished yet again for clumsy set piece defending; this time on a corner. To give full credit Hong Joon-ho did well to get to the ball... but he still did so through two Dragons defenders who couldn't be bothered to stop ball watching long enough to pick up their man. Jeonnam's not scoring goals right now, so they can't afford to keep letting them in on free kicks and corners. Whether it's a mental lapse, bad tactics, or lack of practice, something needs to change and they need to spend some more time working on these on the training ground.

Missed PK: Because of a lengthy and odd encounter between the ref and Noh Sang-rae that resulted in the manager being sent to the stands, Jeonnam had six minutes of stoppage time to try and find an equalizer. They eventually got amazingly lucky and were awarded a last minute PK called. After a pretty rough day all around (more on this in a bit), the ref awarded a joke of a penalty to the Dragons for a dreadful hand ball call in the box. Even if he forgot the ruled changed years ago and ball to hand doesn't count, Gwangju defender Jung Dong-yoon's arm is completely flat on his side and in a natural position. It was a terrible call... but somehow an even worse take by the usually reliable Stevo. In a golden opportunity to secure a point and limp away after another shaky performance, the Soccer Gods decided Jeonnam had already used up all of its luck simply getting the PK to begin with.

The Ugly
Playing Advantage: Or more precisely not playing advantage. In the 55th minute Jugović is clearly (and cynically) fouled outside the penalty box after lobbing a ball into the area and the ref blew the call dead instead of playing the clear advantage that would've resulted in the Dragons go-ahead goal. The ref was far too involved in the match throughout the day and botched several calls, but none more egregious than this. If you take a look at the picture below, you can see the ball's clearly already in the air and on its way to Jung Seok-min's feet when the ref puts his whistle in his mouth. I mean... he's looking directly at the ball in this picture. How on Earth any pro ref (or even a very minor league amateur one in this case) can look at this play and decide to blow it dead instead of playing the clear advantage is beyond me. His screw up of the hand ball later in the game is slightly understandable as those can be difficult to judge in live time, but there is absolutely zero excuse here. it's simply the highest point on a 똥산 (poo mountain) of a match from the man in the middle.

Stevo's First Touch: It was a day to forget for the Dragons number 10. The missed PK is what will stand out in most minds, and likely in his as well, but those things happen. It could've been a great read by the keeper, or he could've simply guessed the right way to dive. It stings, but even the greats miss sometimes. What was far worse and more concerning moving forward was his brick-footed first touch that game away possession time and again. If the Dragons are to continue playing their 4-2-3-1 with him as the lone target forward then he needs to be able to hold the ball up and allow the rest of the attack to catch up to the play. Instead, the defense and midfield hoof the ball up top, find Stevo a surprising number of time, and he boots it out of bounds or directly to the other team. Additionally, he didn't win a single 50/50 ball in the air yesterday. Not one. This is a man that stands at 188cm and is easily at least a head above the vast majority of the defenders he'll see on any given day. He should be winning those balls anyway, but given his failure to secure the ball when it's at his feet he must help Jeonnam maintain possession when the ball's in the air. If the Dragons are going to end this slide, then he needs to be a key part of the offense and that starts with not giving the ball away.

What do you think? Did I miss a Good, Bad, or Ugly moment for the Dragons yesterday? Too kind? Too harsh? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. A good read. I bit harsh on Stevo I'd say... yes he could have done better with the pk but it was struck hard and low, give credit to the keeper, it was a great stop. His touch looked much better in the last 20.

    Where do they find these refs!?!

    1. Yeah, as I mentioned in the Ugly section, PK saves happen sometimes. That's also why I didn't rate the miss any worse. As for his touch looking better in the last 20, that's true, but it still wasn't great. Ideally I'd like to see him come off the bench in the 50th-60th minute for a little bit and capitalize on a late game push for a goal.

      As for the refs... I think they just find the town drunk two hours before kick off an offer him 5,000 won.


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