Andreja Prokic has left Katowice. “Who?” You may ask. Prokic was the left winger who I voiced my concern about shortly after arriving in Poland. He had a good pre season friendly where he set up 2 goals, before promptly injuring himself, and I’d be surprised if I’ve mentioned him since. He’s gone out on loan to Icelandic Premier League side KR for the remainder of the season after telling me that he wanted first team football.
Anyway, let’s talk about Piast. Piast were the other side to get promoted to the top division last season and are in front of us in the Lotto Ekstraklasa by a nose, sitting in 11th place on 16 points. We’re in 12th on 15 points, so this should be a close match between 2 evenly matched sides.
I’m told that Piast’s manager, Piotr Jawny, is a bit of a game player though. A bit of a shit stirrer. You know the type. And low and behold, he goes out in front of the press in the build up to our match and singles out veteran goalkeeper Nowak as GieKSa’s weak link.
Now, I’ll let a lot of things slide. Bragging, delusions of grandeur, even sometimes direct insults. But a lack of respect for a stalwart of the game is something that I will not stand by and watch. Piotr, you’ve pissed off a man that will hold a grudge at the drop of a hat, and you are going down. And Nowak will start in net. And I’m half considering doing that hilarious thing where I offer you my hand for a handshake, but then pull it back at the last second and run it through my hair instead. Prick.
Also, the only change we make is bringing Tarnowski in for Janga. The Janga plan worked last week but I want to see how Tarnowski does in that role.
An early chance goes Piast’s way when Janicki’s corner is nodded on by Polczak, before being glanced wide by Banasiak. 10 minutes later they’re still pressing forwards. Wilson fails to clear his lines after a cross and Bart clatters recklessly into the back of Kurminowski, giving away a spot kick. Bollocks. Wieteska’s penalty is pretty close to perfect, right into the bottom corner with plenty of power. Nowak, annoyingly, has no chance.
We have a chance to draw level on the half hour mark, when Amonike’s cross from the byline is met by Goncerz, but he hits his shot into the side netting.
I’m very used to our matches dying off for a bit before a frantic finish, but this one just sort of… Dies. We try to control, we try to attack, we use all 3 subs, but it’s a nothing match.
I said a few weeks ago that because of the congestion in the middle of the table, we could either climb or fall very quickly. As it turns out, we’re falling. We’re now in 12th place and my ideal finishing position (within reason) is 8th so that we’re safe from relegation. But surely today’s the day that we turn it around. Wisła Kraków are having an absolute shocker of a season. They we’re predicted to be in or around the race for the Europa League places, but as it stands they’re 15th, they’ve won 1 of their 12 matches and they have below half of our points tally. The only side doing worse than them are KGHM Zagłębie, who are yet to win this season.
I’m going off-menu for this one. We need to assert our dominance as the home side and as the favourites. Give me 4-2-3-1. Give me fluidity. Give me dreamies. Give me strength, we’re breaking out the fucking Meatloaf.
We start off on the front foot. 20 minutes in, Hurley passes to Goncerz, who squares the ball for Fossy. He’s been returned to his number 10 role today as we’re trying to play a nice brand of football that a tidy player like him can often help to facilitate. Fossy’s shot has power and precision, but a good diving save from Carlos keeps the scores level.
After half an hour, I’ve seen some warning signs, but in the 33rd minute, we collapse. Garbacik heads the ball needlessly to Mak, giving possession away. The ball goes to Llonch, who is closed down by Olivier, but also Scheffel. This leaves space for Vidémont to move into on the left. He receives the ball, at which point Olivier and Scheffel both abandon Llonch to chase him instead. Vidémont pokes the ball back through for Llonch, who side foots it past the keeper from close range.
I am incandescent with rage. Everything about our defending was wrong. I seem to remember similar teething problems after introducing Os Heróis to fluid football, but I won’t accept that 3 of our back 4 forgot the very basics of defending because I gave them slightly more freedom. What a fucking shambles.
But in for a penny, in for a pound. We’re going attacking but we’re staying fluid. There’s every chance that the rest of this match will be about us trying to break Kraków down while they cling to their precious goal, and we’ll be best off doing that with fluidity. Instantly, Amonike cuts in and hits a pot shot from 25 yards, but it goes just wide of the far post.
Just before the break, Malecki’s corner is curled into the 6 yard box, but Maaczynski heads the ball just over the bar.
The second half is just as frustrating as the first. Nothing interesting happens until Grzegorz Goncerz has to be brought off with a broken nose with just under half an hour to go. Michal Tarnowski replaces him up front and Shurendo Janga comes on for Fossy.
With quarter of an hour to go, I’m sat in my seat in the dugout with my notebook open, silently fuming. In a bid to finish the game off, Popovic plays the ball behind our defence for Ondrasek, who runs through on goal and shoots, but the ball clatters back off the far post.
A minute or so later, we’re finally stringing some passes together though. Tarnowski dribbles forward and feeds Janga in the area, who takes a touch, picks his spot, and buries the ball in the bottom corner. I leap out of my seat, sending my notebook flying through the air as I pump my fist. This match just got interesting.
5 minutes later, Hurley’s on the ball. He spreads it onto the left for Amonike, who turns inside and chips the ball into the centre – And Michal Tarnowski’s there to volley it left footed into the bottom corner. No time for fist pumping now. We fall right back. Mario Gregurina comes on for Kevin. We see the game out.
Well, we definitely made hard work of that, but a win is a win is a win. Tarnowski picks up the player of the match award despite only playing for 27 minutes, which should give you a good idea of the overall quality displayed by both sides. He scored one goal and set up another for fellow substitute Janga, and colour me impressed with both of them. Goncerz has yet to fully convince me that he deserves to be our undisputed striker, and I’m starting to wonder why it is that a couple of other first team regulars keep getting games too. These boys have both just done their chances of a run in the team the world of good.
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