Draw for Anorthosis, Alki Oroklini come back to defeat Ermis Aradippou

Draw for Anorthosis, Alki Oroklini come back to defeat Ermis Aradippou
 

CYPRIOT 1st DIV: RELEGATION PLAYOFFS (MATCHDAY 2)

Date Home Team Score Away Team
9-Mar-19 Doxa Katokopias 0 - 0 Pafos
10-Mar-19 Alki Oroklini 2 - 1 Ermis Aradippou
10-Mar-19 Anorthosis 1 - 1 Paralimni

Week 2 of the Cypriot First Division relegation playoffs produced a mixed bag of results. Doxa Katokopias and Pafos FC played to a goalless draw, Anorthosis continued their struggles with a 1:1 draw at home to Enosis Neon Paralimni, and Alki Oroklini won a 2:1 decision at home to Ermis Aradippou. 

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Doxa Katokopias hosted Pafos FC at the Makario Stadio in Nicosia. For much of the first half, the ball got bogged down in the midfield. Nils Zatl curled a nice strike that narrowly missed the net. Paul Batin had a shot from distance, but the save was made by the Pafos backup goalkeeper Evgenios Petrou, who at 21 years old got the start in goal and made his Cypriot First Division debut. Petrou’s save kept the match scoreless at the half.

In the second half, Pafos finally generated a chance as Matija Sirok spotted a wide open Adam Nemec. Nemec put a header on goal, but Armin Gremsl made the save. Ioannis Hadjivasilis found himself all alone with Petrou, but Petrou came out on top, a big save on a golden opportunity for Hadjivasilis. A Pafos free kick set up a header for Diego Zivulic, but Gremsl was in position to stop that one, too. Last chance for a winner in stoppage time for Pafos, Deniss Rakels found himself in just enough space to be ahead of the pack and bring the ball in on Gremsl, but hearing footsteps behind him, he rushed his shot, and it was an easier save for Gremsl than it should have been. Gremsl and Petrou were perfect on this night, and the result was a 0:0 draw. Pafos fell into 9th place, only one point clear of the 11th place danger zone, Doxa fell to 10th, only safe for now on goal differential.

Anorthosis hosted Enosis Neon Paralimni at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca. Anorthosis, only in the relegation group to begin with due to the Francis Uzoho scandal, so far have not been the big fish in the small pond they were expected to be after a surprise loss to Ermis Aradippou last week. They didn’t seem ready to go for this one either, as Enosis brought the early pressure. Gonzalo Zarate narrowly missed the target early on, and Zarate came even closer putting a shot off the top of the net. Then a nice play set up Minas Antoniou, which called Dimitris Demetriou into action, but he was up to the task and made the save. This woke Anorthosis up and in the 36th minute, against the run of play, Nika Kacharava slid the ball along the goal line, and Joao Victor tapped it in to give Anorthosis the 1:0 lead. This lead would not make it to halftime, as in first half stoppage time, Nikos Englezou fed Zarate, and this attempt, though lacking power, was on target and caught Demetriou out of position, and the score at the half was 1:1.

Erwin Koffi led off the second half with a nice run, but instead of looking for one of his options in the box, tried to finish off his own play by trying to surprise Konstantinos Petrou at the near post. It did not work as Petrou sealed off his post to make the save. This did however, earn Anorthosis a corner, and it set up Andraz Struna who volleyed a twine-seeking missile out of the path of any Enosis defenders or Petrou. However, the ball never made it because the shot inexplicably hit Kacharava and stayed out, Kacharava inadvertently got in the way of his team regaining the lead. 5 minutes from time, Antoniou made a nice run and found himself alone in on Demetriou, looking to beat Demetriou through his legs, but Demetriou closed his legs in time to make the save. On the last play of the match, it was Anorthosis going in for the kill. Ricardo Laborde surveyed his options and found Ruben Rayos in enough space to get off a point blank shot. Instead, Rayos’s shot screamed off the post, and time expired, a 1:1 draw. Anorthosis remain in 7th place atop the relegation group thanks to their regular season point total, Enosis fell to 11th, tied with Doxa on points, behind them on goal differential.

Alki Oroklini hosted Ermis Aradippou at the Stadio Ammochostos in Larnaca, which both are calling home this season as tenants of Nea Salamina. Kike Boula sped down the wing and latched onto a pass and got a shot off, but Urko Pardo made the save. The rebound came to Yaroslav Martynyuk who got his head on it, but it went over the net, albeit not by much. Martynyuk later served in a free kick, and David Kuagica got his head on it, Pardo thought he made the save, but the ball trickled over the line and in, and the Angolan defender gave Ermis a surprise lead, the 1:0 lead Ermis took into halftime.

Alki regrouped at the halftime break and came out a lot sharper. Ivan Carlos dribbled through the entire Ermis defense, and then slotted past Giannis Arabatzis to level the score in just the 48th minute. Alki felt confident after that, El Hedi Belameiri found Matija Spoljaric who had a go from a bad angle, but Arabatzis was ready for it. The decisive moment came in the 68th minute, as Andreas Stavrou set up Belameiri who let fly and the shot eluded Arabatzis. It was another bad angle shot, and this time Arabatzis got beaten to the near post. Arabatzis cheated a step to the middle and was out of position. Ermis did have a good chance to salvage a draw in stoppage time with a free kick on the edge of the box. However, Giannis Taralidis skied the ball over the net, not even forcing Pardo to flinch, and Alki earned a massive 2:1 win over Ermis. Alki rockets all the way from being in a position to get relegated in 11th place, all the way up to 8th place. Conversely, this was a costly loss for Ermis, they are in the hole by 8 points in last place. Relegation is starting to seem more and more likely for them.

 

by Andreas Mantzas

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