By Chrisos Mavromoustakos
The first round of the Cypriot First League playoffs system has added some sauce to the title race.
First up, we had AEK v AEL at AEK Arena. AEK had suffered major setbacks after their Europa League early exit, and have since been regaining their form. AEK have not lost a game in the league since the 7th of January and were favourites in this one. AEL, on the other hand, have won 3 out of their last 5 and have won 2 of the last 5 meetings between these sides. This game would end up in a 1-0 win to AEK. This pushes them into fourth place and only 3 points away from a European spot.
Up next was the game of the round. Apollon v Omonia. Apollon has won the last 4 meetings between this side and Omonia need this to win to jump Nea Salamina into that 5th place spot. However, it wasn’t meant to be and Apollon would go on to win the game 3-1 in Lemesos and Omonia still lack that finishing touch in front of goal. Talisman Matthew Derbyshire, who was top goalscorer last year hasn’t been hitting form this season. This has proved to be costly as Omonia sit at the bottom of the pack in the Championship Group.
Reigning champions APOEL travelled to Nea Salamina. In what would be a crucial game in order to stay at the top of the pack. APOEL have drawn the last 3 of their games, including the cup game this morning which saw them through to the next game, whilst Nea Salamina hasn’t won since the 27th of January. APOEL have won 3 of the last 5 matches between the two sides, this game would end in a 1-1 draw and puts Apollon and APOEL tying on points. They will face each other in two weeks.
Moving on to the relegation group.
Pafos FC would play host to ALKI Oroklini. Pafos and ALKI are both on average form, and the three points would be vital for both sides. The last meeting led to a 3-3 draw, so it is destined for goals. Goals were evidently produced, in favour to ALKI who would win 3-0 with 10 men. This loss pushes Pafos FC further away from 7th placed Anorthosis and opens the gap between 11th and 12th for ALKI who are one step closer to avoiding relegation.
Ermis v Anorthosis. Anorthosis have had a tough 2 weeks, after losing 9 points and subsequently being moved to the relegation group. Ermis also sit dead last in the league. This win was crucial for Ermis, who didn’t win a game since last year in the league. Sitting on 10 men, that was also a good result. For Anorthosis on the other hand, that extends their bad week. Ermis sit on 13 points in 12th place whilst Anorthosis sit with 34 points.
Last but not least, we have ENP v Doxa. Inconsistent Doxa last grabbed 3 points against this team on the 13thof January, whilst ENP also didn’t win a game, before this one, until the 4thof February. This 1-0 for ENP was clinical in one-upping their relegation hopes, and both teams sit on 20 points respectively.