Matt Costelloe popped up in the box to score his second goal in as many games to earn CPR a vital victory over second placed Pancyprians. The goal sent the CPR players, bench and management into rapturous celebration. The win extends CPR’s lead over the Pancyprians at the top of the table to five points.
The victory was made all the sweeter by the fact that CPR played most of the game with 10 men, after Bo Nyberg harshly received his marching orders on the 35th minute, following two yellow cards in quick succession.
In extremely difficult conditions with 35mph winds and driving rain, it was the Pancyprian’s who started brighter. They dominated possession in the opening stages but never threatened Dan Mejias’ goal. CPR had a new look 4-4-2 formation, which wing backs Joe Allen and Vicente Valdes took full advantage of making overlapping runs whenever the opportunity arose.
As the first half progressed CPR took more of a hold, and although Pancyprians had most of the possession, it was CPR who looked the more dangerous. Vitaliy Firsov had the first shot on goal from 30 yards, the ‘keeper spilled it and Justin Rifis did his best to get the rebound but arrived a tad late. Just before half-time Paul Clarke pulled up with a hamstring injury, and Dragon Blagojevic stepped in to partner Bruce in the heart of the defense.
After Nyberg’s dismissal, CPR manager Morse moved Palacios deeper into the middle and a combination of Elior Talmasov and substitute Peter Chodacki had to work hard up front on their own. As you’d expect, in the second half the Pancyprians had the majority of the ball but the CPR players worked tirelessly to get behind the ball when not in possession. The meanest defense in the league – one goal conceded in seven games – were in the right place at the right time to step in and win the ball.
Incredibly, being a man down, CPR began to take the game to the Pancyprians and a goal for the Red Army looked on the cards. On several occasions Peter Chodacki made good runs down the channels and a tried to find Palacios and Costelloe with crosses. A perfectly weighted through ball from Palacios found Costelloe who tried to place the ball in the top corner but the keeper got a hand to it. Then a Lee Weinstein ball put Sekou Cox away but he was cynically pulled back by what seemed to be the last defender. The defender was extremely lucky to just receive a yellow card.
The goal came with 10 minutes remaining. Chodacki got the ball near the sideline and squared up the defender before drilling a ball across the goal between defender and ‘keeper, to meet Costelloe’s outstretched foot. There was one heart in mouth moment when a Pancyprian striker flicked a cross just over the bar, but apart from that the CPR defense wasn’t too troubled.
It felt like an important victory and the type of game in previous seasons that CPR were not winning.
MotM: Matt Costelloe