This is a pivotal time for Vasas. An expensive new stadium is nearing completion but the team are stuck in the second division playing villages instead of big-hitters like Ferencváros and Honved. Key players Balajti and Birtalan are on fire, but unless promotion is achieved they’re likely to leave in the summer. Given the team’s reliance on them, it’s vital Vasas go up this term or the next season in NBii will be a very long one.
But there’s hope. Last time I wrote Vasas were 10 points from the promotion places, now they’re short by just 2. They still lie in 4th (the top two go up – no playoffs in this league), but the teams directly above them – Gyirmót and Kaposvár – have only managed a win each in their last 5 games, while Vasas are on a run of SIX consecutive victories. Balajti has 9 goals in those 5, building an unassailable lead at the top of the scoring charts and probably making the loveable ol’ big head unbearable in the changing room.
Today’s opponents are almost comical in their unpronouncability (NBii has the most burdensome team names in the world), and have been punished for this with a season in the lower half of the table. Kazincbarcikai is – you guessed it – another small industrial town. They brought about twenty fans with them today and fair play to those poor buggers for making the trip from North East Hungary on a cold Sunday afternoon.
Vasas start well. Milán Kovács is basically a pre-pubescent Tormund from Game of Thrones, except he’s been suckled on the giant’s milk equivalent of 0.1%. He’s tall and thin with a deft touch and good instincts. He collects the ball on the edge of the box and lifts a Sancho-esque ball over the defence to Murka, who knocks it past the keeper for Balajti to finish. There’s a grain of doubt that he actually got the final touch, but Bala not claiming a goal would be utterly inconceivable, so he gets credited with it (28 for the season now) and it’s 1-0.
If Kovács is Tormund, then Balajti and Birtalan are early series Lannisters, frolicking around, showing off, and generally doing whatever they want. Soon it’s 2-0. Birtalan skips onto a through ball and Botond Király has an easy tap in. Plain sailing.
It doesn’t all go Vasas’s way. Oltean hits an absolute stunner from 30 yards to make it 2-1 at half time. The sparse away support barely celebrate for some reason; indeed they have all the enthusiasm of those migrant labourers that the Qatari government buses in to plump out sporting event attendances. Perhaps the biting wind through an exposed stand is getting to them.
Similarly vexing is the near-side linesman, his arm going up and down like a yo-yo on a mission to flag Balajti offside as often as possible, including an obviously wrong decision when the striker runs clean through on goal. Regardless, Vasas are full of intent and looking good for their lead. Half-time: Vasas 2-1 Kazincbarcikai
Even though the home team are playing well, everyone needs a little luck, and Botond Birtalan certainly gets some early in the second half. He chases down a loose pass, forcing the defender to panic and whack the ball against his shins. The resulting rebound bypasses the onrushing keeper to roll sarcastically into an empty net and it’s 3-1. Better still, news comes in on the old wireless than 2nd place Gyirmót are getting battered 3-0 at Siofok, meaning that Vasas will leapfrog them in the table.
Belenyesi gets a consolation goal to make it 3-2, but the result is never in doubt (which is easy to say after the fact, but the away side really didn’t deserve anything from this one). It’s an amazing 7 wins on the trot for Vasas and a huge well done to manager Károly Szanyó for turning this season around at the crucial time.
Vasas 3-2 Kazincbarcikai (Balajti, Király, Birtalan. Attendance 780)
So Gyirmót finally lost 3-1, but Kaposvar managed to win, keeping them just ahead of Vasas with four to play. Still, it’s been an amazing turnaround for the
Angyalföld boys, and they’re the form team going into the business end of the season.
Notes on other teams I follow:
Middlesbrough, Al Shabab and Tokyo Verdy all continue to disappoint of late. Boro might just sneak into the playoffs, but it’d be undeserved and we’d get tonked if we actually did make it to the Premier League. Best to keep our heads down, fire Pulis and try again next year.
Hungarian football words learned: les (offside – as shouted constantly and sarcastically at a useless linesman).