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Kharkiv Cup

Victory for the Road

Today's meeting of the leaders of the Kharkiv Futsal Cup is a good moment to talk about how the team is doing in the tournament. The previous five meetings of the group stage, won by the violets with a total goal difference of 47:3, were not the best time to analyze the performance of Serhiy Hrytsenko and Yurii Vashchenko's players: our team’s advantage in this tournament was too overwhelming.

The organizers scheduled a game between the two top dogs of the tournament when we least expected it: the evening before the team's departure to Lviv, where the violets are to compete for the U15 Super Cup of Ukraine. So, a game with one of the most principled rivals half a day before the departure was rather out of line. There was no way to cancel it, either. Phoenix will play in four Pan-Ukrainian tournaments this October. Given the schedule, it was quite a challenge for the organizers of the Kharkiv Cup to find pertinent time slots for the club's matches.

The coaching staff of Phoenix decided to take no risks, refraining from registering several key players. The ones who were either at risk of aggravating the injury, or needed longer to fully recover before one of the key tournaments of the season. So, yet another time, Phoenix neared the match with Volna Sports School with an experimental line-up - without Boldyzhev, Khodatskyi, Lazeba and Zamula. Artem Shevchenko was not in either, so, it should be clear how unusual the Phoenix's four-player squads looked in the key match of the Kharkiv Cup group stage. Seven field players on the roster - the absolute minimum over the past few months. On the other hand, the staffing situation made it possible for Vlad Khrypchuk to prove himself. Jumping ahead, coaches’ trust paid off - Vlad assisted a goal.

Despite the crucial nature of the meetings between our teams, Sports School Volna has been unable to beat Phoenix for the seventh match in a row. Needless to say, how motivated and serious the opponent was for the meeting? Alexander Kuzmenko and Kostyantyn Tatarenko’s players spent the match with such composure and discipline that even Kostyantyn Zaika’s absence did not seem that critical at all.

The pace of the first half was calm and measured. None of the teams was leading. Instead of taking risks and plunging into attacks, the players held the ball for a long time, focusing on positional attacks. Moments at the goalmouths of both teams were not that numerous and when it came to aggravation, the defenders and goalkeepers acted almost flawlessly. In minute three, Maksym Dolhulia’s ball hit the goal post. Five minutes later, Serhii Velkhivskyi, the forward of Volna, whose zeal stood out clearly against his teammates, went one-on-one with Eldar Bratchuk, but his shot went too wide. The only effective exception was the attack of Phoenix four minutes before the half-time break, during which Vlad Khrypchuk found Demyd Yevsyukov, forgotten by the defenders, with a pass, and the second number of the violets just punched into the near corner, opening the scoring.

The pace of the second half was higher. The players of Sports School Volna carried out two sharp counterattacks, similar to each other, like two peas in a pot, and both began with Maksym Dolhulia’s inaccurate passes. Both times the same old Serhii Velkhivskyi went one on one with Eldar Bratchuk. The first attack fell flat, Volna’s forward missing the goal, on the second attempt his left kick into the far corner was accurate, though.

A draw on the scoreboard probably suited both teams, clearly the top dogs of the tournament, so the audience did not see many scoring chances. The players from Sports School Volna were very close to getting ahead if it wasn’t for Bratchuk, who saved a medium-range shot under the crossbar.

Phoenix made a great use of its dangerous moment two minutes before the end of the game. Oleksandr Bezruk intercepted an inaccurate pass from an out-of-bounds, rushed along the left flank and rolled the ball to Maksym Dolрulia, who, moving the other way, got rid of the opponent and shot brilliantly over Oleh Ahafonov from seven meters.

The rest of the half the players of Sports School Volna, spent with the fifth field player, quite predictably, but it never got to an accurate shot on goal. The final whistle of the referee registered the slim victory of Phoenix: 2: 1, which made it possible for us to break away from the key rival.

It is hard to imagine what can prevent the violets from getting through to the first place in the group stage. The key matches for us will begin with the playoffs, though. There is a high chance Phoenix and Sports School Volna will meet again in this Cup. 

Team Standings

Kharkiv Futsal Cup
Sports School Volna
Sports School №12
Sports School №13
Kolos (Snizhkiv)
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