Gambian international striker Momodou Ceesay
who goes by his sobriquet Zico, and his Slovak premier league side, MSK Zilina
are edging closer to their second championship in three years following a hard
fought 1-0 win over second place Spartak Trnava at the weekend.
The opening words in a post-match press
conference from Pavel Hoftych, the Trnava coach were: “I wish all Czech and
Slovak football could be played in an atmosphere like this.” He was right. The
game between Slovakia’s top two was played in front of a crowd of over 8,000
spectators, with lots of colour, impressive noise and no apparent nastiness.
Credit for most of the noise must go to Trnava’s remarkable following, who
filled the South Stand and were raucous throughout. That around 2,000 of their
fans should travel two hours north for a 17:30 kick-off suggests that
end-of-week productivity figures back in their hometown will be rather less
On the pitch, there had been a contest
between two sides who are both pretty good but whose strengths rather contrast,
and between the Corgon Liga’s two players of the season; Žilina’s Viktor
Pe?ovský and Trnava’s Miroslav Karhan. Žilina are the league’s most technically
accomplished team and the one that plays the most consistently attractive
football. Trnava, sharing the best defensive record with Senica and on a run of
six games with no goals conceded going into the fixture, are usually the
In that sense, it was ironic that Žilina’s
winning goal should result from poor defending at a set-piece. With 37 minutes
gone, Miroslav Bar?ík swung over a corner, Momodou Ceesay leapt to flick it on
and the unguarded Tomáš Majtán stooped at the far post to head it in.
Otherwise, though it was never a dull game, chances were few.
Both sides did come close to late goals. Jí?i
Koubský headed inches wide for Trnava, and they probably should have had a
penalty for a high kick by Ricardo Nunez. At the other end, Róbert Pich wasted
a fine opportunity to settle Žilina’s nerves by shooting straight at the
‘keeper. By the time this flurry of action arrived, Trnava were playing with 10
men following the sending-off of Martin Vysko?il for two needless bookable
The win leaves Žilina three points clear of
Trnava with five games still to play. An equal head-to-head record and a
slightly better goal-difference top up their advantage. The first four of their
remaining games, and all of Trnava’s, are against comfortably placed mid-table
sides. But if both slip up, Slovan Bratislava could yet be allowed back into
So it is quite true that nothing has been decided yet. Still, it’s
beginning to seem that Žilina are that bit better than either Trnava or Slovan
at compensating for their shortcomings. They have also had several injury
problems this season but the squad has, so far, been flexible enough to cope.