Wins for the bottom three
CYPRIOT FIRST DIVISION - ROUND 23
|Date||Home Team||Score||Away Team|
|3-March-19||Pafos||0 - 3||Alki Oroklini|
|3-March-19||Ermis||2 - 1||Anorthosis|
|4-March-19||Paralimni||1 - 0||Doxa Katokopias|
The first matchday of the playoffs started with wins for the three last placed teams. Alki Oroklinis, Ermis Aradippou, and Enosis Neon Paralimniou earned valuable points in their efforts to avoid relegation. A reminder, the last two placed teams at the end of the playoffs will be relegated to the Second Division.
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Alki visited the Stelios Kyriakides stadium in Paphos to face Pafos FC in a desperate need for points. In the 28th minute, Ivan Carlos carried the ball from the midfield in a solo effort all the way to the Pafos penalty area, and despite Joel Mall’s efforts to keep the ball out of the net, it ricochet in for a 1:0 Alki lead. The visitors struck again in the 41st minute. After a corner kick, Dushko Trajchevski replayed the ball in the heart of the Pafos defense, which was caught out of position and Franco Flores took advantage to double Alki’s lead with a headed goal.
Pafos tried to get back into the game early in the second half, while Alki put together strong defending to maintain their lead. In the 64th minute, Matija Spoljaric was brought down by Matija Sirok and a penalty was awarded. Andreas Stavrou took the spot kick and successfully beat Mall for a third time to seal the three points for the visitors. The hosts ended the game with ten ment after El Hedi Belameiri went on the counter, chipped the ball over Mall, but the Pafos goalkeeper brought him down in a clear goal scoring opportunity and saw a straight red card for his offense. Alki will be happy with the three points and a good performance against a good team, while Pafos remain seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Bottom of the table, Ermis, hosted Anorthosis, who were left out of the first group due to the point deduction they received for the Uzoho case. Ermis were awarded a penalty in the 11th minute for Ernesto Laborde’s offense on Giorgos Katsiatis during a corner kick. As usual, Giannis Taralidis took the spot kick and beat Dimitris Dimitriou to give Ermis the lead. In the 36th minute, the arithmetic balance changed, as Anastasios Lagos saw his second yellow card for stopping Laborde, who went on the counter, leaving Ermis with 10 players. The red card helped Anorthosis find space and look for the equalizer and just before halftime, Oliver Buff came close to an equalizer, however Giannis Arabatzis came up with a big save (and with the help of his post) to deny the goal.
Anorthosis came out of the locker room looking for a goal and in the 54th minute, Fytos Kyriakou forced Arabatzis to another save. Despite playing with a man down, Ermis struck again in the 63rd minute. Enrique Boula received the long ball, bringing him face to face against Dimitriou, and delivered the perfect strike to double Ermis’ lead. Anorthosis finally found the back of the net in the 85th minute when Ruben Rayos’ cross was met by Michal Duris’ header to beat Arabatzis. The goal did not change much, however, and Ermis celebrated a big win, but remain seven points away from relegation. Anorthosis maintained their unstable form and continue to receive pressure after missing out the first group.
Enosis Neon Paralimni hosted Doxa in a crucial battle at the Tasos Markou Municipal Stadium in Paralimni. In the 15th minute, Minas Antoniou went on the attack from the left wing, escaped his defender and released a shot that surprised Armin Gremsl to open the scoring for the hosts. In the 37th minute, Carit Falch was forced to substitute out Boris Klaiman, with backup keeper Konstantinos Petrou taking the gloves to defend Paralimni’s net.
Doxa picked up the pace in the second half as they looked for an equalizer. Doxa’s best chance to pull level came in the 73rd minute as a scrap in the penalty area saw Andreas Kyriakou clear the ball off the line in a goal-saving defensive effort. Seven minutes later, Petrou stopped a shot by Nektarios Alexandrou, Batin took the rebound but Petrou denied the striker once again. On the other end, Antoniou wasted a great chance to seal his team’s win in the 85th minute but his effort went well off target. Paralimni held on to achieve a big win and catch up with Doxa in the standings as both teams, alongside Alki, have twenty points, seven clear of last placed Ermis. For more on Enosis Neon Paralimni, Check out our interview with Paralimni’s coach Carit Falch.