Serie B 2012/13 Review: Week 23
Saturday 26th January
Bari 0 – 1 Ascoli
Cesena 3 – 1 Vicenza
Empoli 0 – 2 Novara
Grosseto 3 – 1 Cittadella
Modena 1 – 2 Ternana
Padova 0 – 0 Livorno
Pro Vercelli 0 – 0 Reggina
Spezia 0 – 1 Verona
Varese 1 – 2 Virtus Lanciano
Monday 28th January
Juve Stabia – Brescia
With Serie B taking such a lengthy winter hiatus, it was always going to be interesting to see which sides would cope better with almost a month of inactivity. Would the sides that ended the year in scintillating form pick up from where they left off? Or would the league’s strugglers welcome the opportunity of a fresh start?
If the Friday evening fixture between runaway league leaders Sassuolo and Crotone is anything to go by, it could be a case of the latter. On a pitch that resembled something of a reservoir thanks to a torrential downpour, a lively start saw the hosts take a deserved lead through Pietro De Giorgio’s powerful back post header. A stunned Sassuolo found themselves two down inside the opening half hour when Kelvin Ewome Matute looped a header into the path of Mirko Eramo, who casually tucked the ball into the bottom corner. An almost instant response from Simone Missiroli gave the Neroverdi hope of staging a comeback, but a superb display from Crotone keeper Nicholas Caglioni kept them at bay during the second half. The game ended in controversy however, with referee Luigi Nasca whistling for full time just as Domenico Berardi was set to pull the trigger on a near certain equaliser.
While Sassuolo were caught napping, second placed Livorno were similarly guilty of a sluggish start, and can be grateful to have escaped with a goalless draw having been dominated on their trip to Padova. An astonishing display from Livorno keeper Vincenzo Fiorillo somehow kept Padova out during the first half, with a point blank save to deny a Diego Farias volley the pick of the bunch. The hosts did have the ball in the net through Enej Jelenic shortly before half time, but his effort was correctly ruled out for offside. It was a similar story in the second half, with Farias pulling a snapshot inches wide of the post, while Fiorillo was again on hand to palm away Aniello Cutolo’s long range effort.
It was a much more satisfying weekend for Verona however, who managed to close the gap on the top two to just two points thanks to Daniele Cacia’s late winner against Spezia. It was the home side that came closest to opening the scoring in the first half though, as Mario Rui clipped the crossbar with a curling long range effort. Verona piled on the pressure following the restart, with Alessandro Sgrigna clipping the base of the post from the edge of the area, before Cacia’s pin-point accurate header into the top corner won it with nine minutes remaining.
The result extended the Gialloblu’s lead over fourth place Varese to ten points after they failed to build on Tuesday night’s victory over Brescia, succumbing to a 2-1 defeat at home to lowly Virtus Lanciano. The hosts took a deserved lead on the stroke of half time when the imperious Diego Falcinelli laid the ball into Manuel Turchi, who steered the ball home off the base of the post. Giulio Osarimen Ebagua looked to have salvaged a point with a blistering effort with quarter of an hour remaining, but a clumsy challenge by Riccardo Fiamozzi on Mohamed Fofana gave Alessandro Volpe to win it from the spot.
It was a similar story for fifth place Empoli, who fell to a 2-0 defeat at home to a resurgent Novara side who may yet harbour hopes of a play-off place come the end of the season. Daniele Croce came close to putting the Tuscan side ahead with a dipping effort that was tipped onto the bar by Francesco Bardi, while Massimo Maccarone went close with a header shortly before the break. However the visitors took the lead through Matthias Lepiller with 20 minutes remaining, the forward deftly controlling the ball on the edge of the box before calmly dispatching it into the bottom corner, and the points were secured in the 93rd minute when Flavio Lazzari scuffed the ball home from close range.
Fellow play-off hopefuls Modena also endured a narrow home defeat at the hands of Ternana, who took the lead with ten minutes remaining through Gianluca Litteri, before Matteo Ardemagni looked to have salvaged a point from the spot six minutes later. However another spot kick in the fourth minute of stoppage time saw Litteri grab his second of the match with what proved to be Ternana’s winner.
Further down the table, Bari have slipped ever closer to the drop zone following a narrow home defeat to Ascoli, Simone Zaza grabbing the only goal of the game in the 15th minute with a composed finish from the edge of the area. Elsewhere there was goalless draw in the game between relegation rivals Pro Vercelli and Reggina, a result the visitors will perhaps be marginally the happier with.
Cesena picked up a vital three points at home against Vicenza, despite falling behind to Alex Pinardi’s stunning early free kick. A neat finish from Pablo Mariano Granoche drew the hosts level before a Denis Tonucci header and Davide Succi strike gave Cesena just their fifth win of the campaign. There was a rare victory too for bottom side Grosseto, who likewise fell behind to Cittadella courtesy of Nunzio Di Roberto, before goals from Emanuele Padella, Federico Piovaccari and Arturo Lupoli secured the win. Still ten points adrift of safety, it is a long way back for the Grifone, but they could not have hoped for a better start to the second half of the campaign.
Player of the Week: Diego Falcinelli (Virtus Lanciano)
The 21-year-old forward, on loan from Sassuolo, was outstanding in his side’s surprising 2-1 victory over promotion chasing Varese. At the heart of all his side’s best attacking moves throughout, the Varese defence simply could not live with Falcinelli’s trickery at times, and only the profligacy of his team mates in front of goal ensured that Virtus Lanciano’s margin of victory was as narrow as it proved.
Goal of the Week: Davide Succi (Cesena)
A fine team effort culminated in Pablo Mariano Granoche chesting the ball into the path of Davide Succi, who rifled an unstoppable drive into the top corner from the edge of the box. Cesena will want to forget the first half of the season in a hurry, and if they can continue to find the net in such stunning fashion with increased regularity, they should be confident of pulling away from danger as the second half of the season gets underway.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevertonFC_84