In the unlikely event that there’s anyone out there who’s been clicking on this site over the past three weeks in eager anticipation of Slovak league updates, I apologise. Suffice it to say that most Corgoň Liga teams have had inconsistent starts to the season and thus the table, after four rounds of fixtures, looks a little topsy-turvy.
Last season’s cup-finallists, Žilina and Senica, met at Štadión pod Dubňom on Saturday. Róbert Pich, one of the shortest players on the pitch, headed two fine goals in 13 first-half minutes to secure a 2-0 home win. It would have been more comfortable still if Miroslav Barčík hadn’t missed a 45th minute penalty following Jan Kalabiška’s foul on Tomáš Majtán, for which the Senica defender was sent-off. With Senica concentrating on damage-limitation and Žilina losing focus at times, the second period was no great spectacle. Still, the result leaves the hosts as the league’s only unbeaten side and continues their recovery from their early Champions League exit. For Senica, who are also out ofEurope, this was a third league defeat in four games. They are clearly still getting used to new coach Zdeněk Psotka, and to the loss of Petr Bolek, Nicolas Gorosito and Tomáš Strnad, three of last season’s key players.
MFK Košice continued their encouraging start with a 3-0 home win over Trenčín. All the goals came in the last 18 minutes, with Dávid Škutka’s two strikes following Ján Novák’s penalty. Coaches Ján Kozák and Adrián Guľa agreed that it had been an ‘excellent game, with both sides wanting to play good football’. With Kozák back in charge, Košice’s struggles of the last two seasons could soon be a distant memory. As for Trenčín, they will be a difficult proposition for everyone on their own artificial pitch, but they will also want to return to the sort of away form they showed during their climb up the table last spring.
Ružomberok undid some of their good work of the first three games by conceding two soft goals in the first 18 minutes of their match at Prešov. New signings Branimir Kostadinov and Jozef Adámik were the players to benefit from the visitors’ defensive generosity, and Ruža were unable to reduce the deficit. Still, considering that these two clubs were enveloped in crises during pre-season, they can still be fairly happy with their starts ; Ruža, with seven points, remain locked in a six-club dispute for first place, while Prešov are just one point behind.
Banská Bystrica were Šport’s nomination as the team most likely to make a significant improvement this season. They too have seven points from four games but they would have hoped for better than a 0-0 draw from Saturday’s home contest with Vion Zlaté Moravce. Vion coach Juraj Jarábek admitted afterwards that, following his side’s poor start to the season (one point from three games, with seven goals conceded), his priority had been to improve their defensive organisation and cancel out Bystrica’s attacking strengths. It will be interesting to see if Bystrica can fulfil Šport’s expectations of them over the coming weeks, while Vion are surely good enough to start climbing away from the bottom places.
Nitrastarted the season with a 5-0 hammering at Trenčín but seem to have quickly learned their lessons. A 2-0 win at newly promoted Spartak Myjava on Saturday saw them become yet another team to reach the seven point mark. Miloš Šimončič and Seydouba Soumah scored the decisive goals. Myjava’s return of two points from their first three games was respectable enough considering that they’d faced both Žilina and Trnava away from home. However, Nitra at home is the type of fixture that really needs to be won. As coach Ladislav Hudec gloomily admitted after the defeat, ‘with performances like that, we can only talk about a relegation battle. Our home support deserve better.’ It should be noted that only Trnava are currently getting significantly better attendances than Myjava.
Trnava are closer to Myjava in terms of league position ; a 1-0 defeat to Slovan Bratislava in Sunday’s derby leaves them with just two points from three games (their match at Žilina was postponed due to the clubs’ respective European commitments). Slovan, for whom former playing legend Samuel Slovák recently took over as caretaker-coach following Vladimír Weiss’s sudden departure, secured their victory thanks to Filip Hlohovský’s goal on the stroke of half-time. Guess how many points they have now…..
Trnava will be concerned by their start to the league season, especially considering that all the games they’ve played have been at home – their supposed fortress. However, they are the only Slovak club left in European competition this season, and have an exciting night to look forward to this Thursday, when they play Steaua Bucharest in the second leg of their Europa League 3rd qualifying round tie. Trnava hold a 1-0 lead but level-headed coach Pavel Hoftych is telling everyone who’ll listen that the Romanian side remain the favourites to progress. In that case, good luck to the underdogs.
Žilina 2 Senica 0
Košice 3 Trenčín 0
Prešov 2 Ružomberok 0
Banská Bystrica 0 Zlaté Moravce 0
Myjava 0 Nitra 2
Trnava 0 Slovan 1