The season proper gets underway today folks, and quite frankly I am pleased to see the back of pre-season. Two wins and three defeats did not teach me much, so our first competitive game in the CE Cup First Round will be a watershed moment.
We have drawn Ankaran, league rivals, in the cup so it will be a good test of where we actually are. I went with the 4-3-0-0-3 #TheFandango tactic and was matched up against a traditional 4-4-2. I felt confident before the game, we had not been massively outclassed no matter how frustrating pre-season was, and with the game also being at home believed we could progress.
We were unable to get near them in the first twenty minutes and needed two excellent stops by Zlamal to keep us in it. Jarolim, still pissed at me, was starting as the RPM and clearly could not be bothered. I considered subbing him early, but left it. Skerle played a horror back pass and once again Zlamal pulled off a top stop. We were on the ropes. Cizek was oozing class in the middle of the park, but was lacking any moral support from his team. I gave them a half time battering and hooked Jarolim and Arte, bringing on Havel and Bartek. Instant success!! Havel unpicked the lock and played in the Mosquito who calmly slotted home. Got to love that, hey? Ankarah nearly levelled straight from kick off but we survived and the Mosquito nearly got his second on the break. Bartek put a beautiful ball on the head of Aku and we all expected to see the net bulge, but his header clipped the bar. Eighty gone and we needed a second. Fortunately we had no further scares and if anyone was going to score next it was us. As it was, the game ended 1-0 and I was a happy man. Cizek was the star of the game, rating 8.8 but it was the introduction of Havel and Bartek that changed the shape of the match. Havel kept the ball and Bartek made some penetrating runs in behind. The second half was a good performance.
When starting a new season, why not play a cup game on the Saturday and then the first league game on the Wednesday? Genius, right? With just three days to recover we were not exactly fresh for the trip to Hungary. We were to play Gyrimot who, despite a couple of seasons at Honved in BETA, I had never heard of. Still, they played their cup game on the Sunday so had one less day to recover than us. They also lost 2-0, bonus. The obvious switches were made, the two lads that changed the game last time out coming into the starting line up. I was tempted to give Big Mikus a start, but ended up feeling another game in the reserves would benefit him.
The Mosquito nearly got us off to the dream start, sneaking in after 45 seconds but seeing his first time shot tipped away. We bossed the first twenty five minutes, and capped it off with a goal. Hasek crossed from deep and the Mosquito slipped in unmarked to volley home his second goal of the season. We came in at the break ahead, Cizek and Havel dominating the middle of the park. I pulled Bartek who had been disappointing and threw on Mikus, gently bringing him back into the fold. Just like we did in the first half we created a chance straight from the kick off. Hasek was released down the right by Cizek, he looked up and crossed to the far post where the man Mosquito arrived to tap home. 2-0! He might be earning £7k a week but if he keeps scoring I don’t care! Zlamal made another incredible save on the hour, the sort of save that wins matches. Diving to his left he managed to palm the ball around the post when it seemed impossible. Gyrimot pressed, trying to get back into it and with seven minutes left they were finally put to bed. We won the ball in our own area and fed it forward quickly to Aku. He linked with Mikus who found the Mosquito. The ball went wide to the overlapping Sirl on the left, and his pin-point cross was met by, yes, Mosquito who flicked home his third. Sensational. To think he was going to be my reserve left back! All three goals were down to the quality of the crosses, brilliant balls in. We still had time for another, Havel getting in on the act and driving in from the edge of the area. You can guess who assisted him. The first league game ended in a 4-0 win to Bohemians, and we were worth every penny. Jhon Mosquero has already made himself a marked man but Cizek and Havel provided the engine in the middle of the park. What a start.
Our first home league game was against fellow Czech’s, Hradec Kralove. They had also won their first two matches of the season, keeping a clean sheet on both occasions. Something had to give! The wonderfully named Matus Mikus was in for his first start of the season, Bartek dropping back to the bench. It took us twenty five minutes to get going, Aku releasing Mikus who saw his shot beaten away. Worryingly, the Mosquito broke his hand in the build up which is bound to be a couple of weeks out. Still, he played on and five minutes later was part of the move that saw Mikus open his account for the season. Aku played the final ball and Big Mikus rounded the keeper for 1-0. The worrying part of the first half was the possession, just 34%. Still, goals win matches and we had one more than they did. Early in the second half we got a penalty. Regular readers will wonder who took it. Cizek of course! 2-0! After fifty minutes El Veterano plonked a corner on Smid’s head and it was 3-0. Easy. Havel nearly made it four, but his shot was tipped away. Zlamal was needed to make a couple of saves himself, the game was becoming end to end. Aku made it 4-0, charging down their keeper’s clearance, getting smacked in the face before running on to slide it in from a very tight angle. We had a couple of chances to make it five, but their keeper was making amends. The final whistle went and we had started the league season with back to back 4-0 victories. Huzzah! Cizek was the star again, but it was hard to fault anyone in that kind of performance.
Incredibly, the Mosquito appeared not to need any time out of the game to recover from the broken hand I was informed he picked up. That was a complete bonus, the lad has made a great start to our season. We started to prepare for FC Nitra, a little trip over the border to Slovakia. They had a single point from their opening two games, so I was hoping we could make it three straight wins!
We went with the same starting XI, absolutely no reason to change anything. Nitra were lining up in a defensive 451 shape, so I was concerned that we may not be able to break them down. I would need to be patient. Havel tested the keeper early on, a long range effort gathered fairly comfortably. Mikus fired over following a quick break. The first five minutes showed promising signs. Then the kicker!! Sixteen minutes in and our left back Sirl needlessly hacked down his man and was shown the straight red. Fantastic. I dropped Krch into the back four, shuffled Smid to full back and moved Havel into the anchor role. Fingers were crossed. Mikus went very close after twenty, forcing a sharp save from the keeper. We were not in control though, and with seconds left in the half Nitra went ahead. The first shot was blocked, but the rebound fell kindly and it was 1-0. An hour gone and we were not in the game at all. I cranked it up to overload in the hope of getting something. Zlamal was again in good form, making a couple of saves to keep us in it. Havel had a great chance, the ball falling to him on the edge of the area, but he shot over. This was not going to be our day. Just when I thought we would be flying home pointless Hasek found space on the right. Yep, you guessed it. The ball was floated to the far post and the Mosquito escaped his man to equalise. Come on! We had escaped with a point, the kind of point that told me a lot about this team. The point kept us top, nobody had a 100% record after three games. I already believe this will be a very tight league.
The learning point from the game was that if we go down to ten men I will remove the anchor man, which hopefully will keep the defense solid but allow us to stream forward in the usual way. Senec were next, another Slovakian side. They had won one, drawn one and lost one. Pauschek came in for Sirl on the left side in the only change. Miky nearly put us ahead early on, but was a fraction offside. He timed his run better the second time, nicking in at the near post and flicking the ball home. The assist? Hasek from the right of course! That was the only real action of the first half, the game was fairly turgid. I gave them the standard half time kicking and hoped to see an improvement in the second period. It didn’t work, Senec levelled minutes after the restart. We tried to react, Miky again testing their keeper. The Mosquito stung the palms of their number one again and we were growing frustrated. It looked as though the game was to end up a draw until Cizek swung a corner in. A goal mouth scramble ensued and Krsch was able to toe-poke the ball home for 2-1. It was a fine, fine win. It was also a win that kept us top of the table on goal difference from St. Polten. Miky was man of the match, starting to hit form after the injury.
The following Saturday was a trip to Slovenia, another away game. I can safely say this is not a good month for the finances, the lack of home games has meant we are at a loss of £78k with a week and a bit of the month remaining! I stuck by the same side that won last time out and hoped we could open up a gap at the top of the table. Triglav Kranj, you are a new team to me. Plus you are bottom of the league. Guaranteed loss I reckon!
I guess the sign of a good team is playing terribly and winning. We went ahead after thirty five minutes, the standard Hasek-Mosquito-one-two. Just before half time Cizek clipped their lad in the box and he tumbled. Penalty! Zlamal bailed us out with a brilliant save, and we went in 1-0 up. The second half was all them, so I switched to contain with ten to go and we held on for the win. Games like this are very dull to report. That Mosquero though, he is popping up with the goals. Results also went our way, meaning after five games we had opened up a two point lead. Ourselves and Brno are the only two unbeaten sides this early in the season, which again suggests a very tight league.
We ended August with a home game, huzzah. Get that cash register ringing. I couldn’t see us clearing £124k from it though, so it was going to be a month that ended in the red. I shall investigate further, I want to check my scouting costs are not astronomical. The final game of the month was against Altach, sitting pretty in fourth spot. The central European connoisseur will know they hail from Austria and look like a decent team. I spent some time chatting to my mate @www.thehighertempopress.comlordluap82 discussing my worry about low possession stats. By talking it out I decided on a tweak to the tactic. Both full backs moved into the wing back strata. One F9 dropped all the way back to CM/A, offset to the left. Another F9 dropped back to SS, central. I left the remaining F9 offset to the right up top. How about that for a little excitement to end the update?
The write up of the tweak was more exciting than the match. We drew 0-0 and had to wait until injury time to get a shot on target. In a weird kind of way I’ll take that, but the tactic wasn’t what I wanted. I might tweak it again for the next match. I’m thinking two strikers (one central, one offset to the left) and some kind of attacking midfielder or a CM/A. I’ll decide on match day.
Either way, we ended August top of the table. Have a look below, tight is not the word!!
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