Saturday’s Trenčín v Žilina game was one to look forward to given that these were the Corgoň Liga’s most attractive teams last season, two of their meetings resulting in thrilling, high-scoring draws. But it turned out to be rather an anti-climax, largely because Trenčín aren’t quite the team they were just six months ago. They still attempt to play a dynamic 4-3-3 formation, they still have the diminutive Aldo Omar Baez scuttling around just in front of the back four and David Depetris, as close as the Slovak league gets to a classical centre-forward, still leads the attack. But the departures of Paraguayan playmaker Jorge Salinas and wide attackers Filip Hlohovský and Lester Peltier have left them with something of a creative void.
The first-half was a quiet affair, though Depetris was unlucky to hit the inside of the post following an indirect free-kick on the six-yard line. Nine minutes into the second-half, a brilliant passage of play from Žilina’s Togolese centre-back Serge Akakpo saw his side take the lead. First, he snuffed out a home attack on the edge of his own penalty-area. Then, he raced up to the edge of the Trenčín box to meet Róbert Pich’s pass with a sweet left-footed shot. Fifteen minutes later, Bruno Guima lobbed the home ‘keeper to make it 2-0 and ensure the continuation of Žilina’s unbeaten start to the season. Before we leave this game, a question for any plastic pitch experts who might be reading ; why is it necessary to spray jets of water onto such a surface when it’s been raining for much of the day?
Trenčín coach Adrián Guľa could be forgiven a wistful glance towards Bratislava, where Peltier and Hlohovský are settling in well for Slovan. Hlohovský it was who scored both goals as a battling Spartak Myjava side were overcome at Pasienky. Slovan seem determined to make life awkward for themselves ; in the 82nd minute, just two minutes after going 2-0 up, their defence somehow allowed Peter Kuračka’s free-kick to slip through and into the net. Still, everyone seemed happy enough afterwards. Samuel Slovák, Slovan’s temporary coach, welcomed the side’s second successive win since he took charge, while Myjava coach Ladislav Hudec admitted that he’d feared a heavier defeat. You sense that Myjava need that first victory to come soon, though. Perhaps next week, when they face Banská Bystrica at home?
Košice goalkeeper Darko Tofiloski is an unpredictable figure. One week his miraculous saves are the difference between a positive result and a severe beating, the next he loses his team the game. Saturday, away to Ružomberok, was one of his off-days. After 15 minutes, his rush from his line was in vain as Lukáš Lupták rounded him to put Ruža ahead. Another quarter of an hour later, he lashed an attempted clearance straight at the onrushing Mulumba Mukendi and the ball bounced behind him into the net. Ján Novák pulled a goal back for Košice, but Tomáš Ďubek wrapped up the points for the home side with a vicious shot from just outside the box which, even on a good day, Tofiloski couldn’t have done a thing about.
Prešov’s Jakub Diviš is another goalkeeper who’ll be keen to banish memories of this weekend. He got nowhere near the right-wing corner from which Andrej Hodek headed Vion Zlaté Moravce’s first goal, and looked somewhat disorientated as Adam Žilák touched home the second from an inswinging free-kick. The win, Vion’s first of the season, moves them up to ninth place, just one point behind their opponents. Prešov coach Angel Červenkov was unhappy with the performance of his entire team. ‘Sides that don’t put their heart into the game have no chance of winning,’ he said.
Nitraand Banská Bystrica both had seven points from four matches going into their encounter on Saturday, so it was perhaps inevitable that they would cancel each other out. Jakub Brašeň gave Bystrica a 26th minute lead only for Seydouba Soumah to equalise ten minutes later. That was the end of the scoring, though both coaches later claimed that their side could have emerged victorious.
Slow starters Senica and Trnava met in the Sunday fixture and it was Senica who gave their season some impetus with a 3-0 victory. Tomáš Kóňa, Jaroslav Diviš and Pavol Masaryk (with a penalty) were the scorers, and Trnava’s misery was compounded by the sending-off of Mario Bicák for two bookable offences. Senica coach Zdeněk Psotka said afterwards that he’d been trying to get his team to simplify their game by playing more directly than in previous matches. Trnava’s Pavel Hoftych, meanwhile, faces the task of lifting his side before the likes of Žilina and Slovan get too far ahead of them. He has overcome previous crises well enough, notably when dealing with the fall-out from Issa Koro-Kone’s acrimonious move to Dijon last autumn, so you would hope he is afforded patience by the club’s bosses now.
Trenčín 0 Žilina 2
Slovan 2 Myjava 1
Ružomberok 3 Košice 1
Zlaté Moravce 2 Prešov 0
Nitra 1 Banská Bystrica 1
Senica 3 Trnava 0