It is important for the Corgoň Liga’s ‘autumn champions’ to make a strong start to the season’s spring phase, so Slovan Bratislava will be delighted with their 4-1 win over Vion Zlaté Moravce at Pasienky on Friday. A 6th minute goal from visiting striker Andrej Hodek seemed to spark Slovan into life and they had the game won by the half-hour mark, courtesy of strikes from Filip Hlohovský, Lester Peltier (two) and Jiří Kladrubský. Vion goalkeeper Martin Kuciak readily admitted that the last two goals were his fault, and added that he and his team-mates ‘were praying it wouldn’t turn into a real humiliation’. Perhaps a switch to a back three didn’t help Vion ; they reverted to a four-man defence for the second-half, and looked more solid, but it was already too late.
Košice replaced Vion in second spot, seven points behind Slovan, as they easily defeated neighbours Prešov on Saturday. Oumar Diaby put Košice ahead after 29 minutes and Martin Bukata added two late goals. The result should ease fears that Košice will struggle to replace Dávid Škutka and Ján Novák, who scored 18 of the side’s 25 autumn goals between them. 19-year-old Bukata will be particularly pleased ; he suffered what looked like a serious injury in a game against Ružomberok last November, just days after being named in Slovakia’s Under-21 squad. His career looks to be up and running once again. The attendance (4,155) should also encourage Košice, the more so in view of some of the sub-1,000 crowds they were drawing in spring 2012.
Banská Bystrica were another side to try out ‘three at the back’ tactics in the first round of spring fixtures. They were rather more successful than Vion as well, as they became the first visiting team this season to win at Žilina. Bystrica’s left wing-back Tomáš Hučko, a winter transfer target for the home club, was the game’s most prominent figure. After ten minutes, he hit the inside of the post with a fine curling shot. Eight minutes into the second-half, he provided the pass from which Pavel Vrána scored the decisive goal. Seven minutes from the end, he had the ideal chance to seal the victory, but saw his weak penalty saved by Martin Dúbravka. Žilina gave the impression that only a severe electric shock would have jolted them into life, as Bystrica’s defensive formation was rarely tested.
Myjava have been having problems getting their ground fit for play, so their fixture with Trenčín was switched to the latter’s artificial pitch. With less than two minutes played, Trenčín’s František Kubík was fouled in the area by Vladimír Kukoľ and Peter Mazan converted the penalty. Midway through the second period, Mazan stepped up to the spot again, but this time blazed his effort high over the bar. Between the two penalties, Myjava passed the ball well enough to pleasantly surprise coach Ladislav Hudec, who admitted he’d been worried about the game in view of his side’s disrupted winter preparations. Trenčín’s Adrián Guľa, meanwhile, was pleased with the win but took the surprising view that ‘scoring so early seemed to hurt us’. He added that ‘this performance didn’t reflect our players’ potential’.
AllSlovakia’s football writers are predicting that Trnava will avoid relegation with something to spare. They will thus feel vindicated by the 2-0 win over visitingNitraon Saturday. This was another game to feature a goal within the first two minutes ; Ivan Schranz collected Ivan Hodúr’s pass and slammed the ball past Martin Chudý. With the game entering its final 15 minutes, substitute Ladislav Tomáček sealed the points with a fine long-range strike. Both the result and the attendance (5,000+) would seem to justify Trnava’s decision to continue playing at Štadión Antona Malatinského, even as reconstruction work on the ground begins.
Sunday’s game saw Ružomberok earn an impressive success at Senica. That Ruža kept a clean sheet should not be too surprising, since they did so five times in their nine autumn away fixtures. Rather more striking is that the three goals they put in Senica’s net double their away tally for the season. Tomáš Ďubek, Mário Almaský and Štefan Pekár were the scorers. Perhaps Ruža were inspired by the surroundings, as Senica’s ground now boasts smart new stands behind the goals. As for the home side, their priority is to get their on-field act together quickly enough to maintain their challenge for next season’s European places.
Slovan 4 Zlaté Moravce 1
Košice 3 Prešov 0
Žilina 0 Banská Bystrica 1
Trenčín 1 Myjava 0
Trnava 2 Nitra 0
Senica 0 Ružomberok 3