No pace, no chances
PAOK lined-up against Apollon Kalamaria in Kaftanzoglio Stadium with several newcomers and high morale from their recent successful results. However their 1-0 defeat will serve as a lesson for the future, helping to an array of conclusions and raising quite a few issues…
The revamped line-up were looking for rhythm, pressing and scoring opportunities in order to continue on the recent dominating displays. They were managing fine in the first stages of the game, as Dimitris Papadopoulos, Maarten Martens and Stelios Pozoglou came close to scoring from inside the box –breaking the deadlock was just a matter of time, it seemed… Indeed it was, but for Apollon Kalamaria, against the run of play. In one of their seldom visits to Asterios Giakoumis’ area, Efstathiou was given space on the right side of the area and fired an unstoppable shot to the top corner of the far post to give the home side the lead.
Apart from looking for rhythm, PAOK found themselves trying to break down the defensive wall set by Apollon who were defending their lead. The complexion of the encounter had changed as the “Double-Headed Eagle” grew frustrated for lack of space.
After the interval, Apollon speculated with the result and were playing with time, the game pace suffering for it. Fanis Tzandaris and Stefanos Athanasiadis came off the bench to boost PAOK’s attack. However, apart from a lobbed header by Klaus that goalkeeper Vrontaras cleared off his line in the 62nd minute, there were no clear-cut chances recorded. Apollon players would be awarded fouls to catch their breath and the medical services of the home side would take their time in attending their footballers. With 70 minutes on the clock, less than 40 minutes of clear play had been recorded. PAOK had 65% possession, but couldn’t capitalize on it!
PAOK were attacking with three natural-born strikers, but the ball would seldom reach them upfront, as Apollon were defending in numbers and were awarded many attacking fouls, that also resulted in six cautions for the “Double-Headed Eagle”. Referee Mitsios awarded just four minutes of stoppage time and PAOK eventually suffered an off-program defeat. Now they need to win their two remaining games in their Greek Cup section to make it to the next stage of the competition.
Apollon Kalamaria: Vrontaras, Galanopoulos, Katsiaros, Bertin, Vangelopoulos, Akassou (52′ Oliseh), Karampelas, Efstathiou, Bitsakos, Natsiopoulos (66′ Soulidis), Gesios.
PΑΟΚ: Giakoumis, Κitsiou, Τziolis, Pozatzidis (74′ Skondras), Spyropoulos, Golasa, Martens, Savvidis (52′ Τzandaris), Κoulouris, Pozoglou (52′ Athanasiadis), Papadopoulos.