A Takafumi Akahoshi double ensured Pogoń Szczecin head into the international break in second position, as they ran-out two-nil victors against a Ruch Chorzów side which ended the game with just nine men.
The Japanese midfielder netted twice in the first half to silence the Ulica Cicha crowd, before home captain Rafał Grodzicki and Marek Szyndrowski compounded the home supporters’ woes with twoa pair of dismissals.
Both sides started the game with a bright spark – Maciej Listkowski for the visitors, and Patryk Lipski for the home side; and it was the latter who played in Urbańczyk for Ruch’s first shot in anger, although it failed to cause Pogoń keeper Kudła any real trouble. Steadily though Czesław Michniewicz’s side fought back into the game; and with a quarter of the match gone they took a controversy-shrouded lead. Listkowski’s through-ball to Akahoshi was perfect; and a debatable offside decision given in the Japanese attacker’s favour left him to only round the keeper and slot into the empty net.
Ruch steadily upped their game in an attempt to level proceedings, but good movement in the midfield was usually spoiled by a poor final ball. When the home side did manage to hit the ball with purpose, through Urbańczyk on two occassions, the Pogoń centre-back pairing of Fojut and Czerwiński found themselves in the right place for the block.
However Pogoń quickly turned up the pressure once more, targeting looped balls over the head of Ruch left-back Marek Szyndrowski, towards Takuya Murayama; and when the Japanese found his countryman just before the half-time whistle, he once again kept his cool to slot past Putnocky to double the lead.
Waldemar Fornalik made one change at the break, replacing Urbańczyk with Maciej Iwański. Instantly Ruch looked rejuvenated, but still lacked any finished product. Again it was Pogoń who came closest to notching the next goal – Michniewicz’s first introduction Łukasz Zwoliński firing inches over from the edge of the box.
Ruch desperately tried to push forward in search of a way back into the game, but any hopes they had were dashed in the 70th minute when a clumsy challenge on Zwoliński by Grodzicki earned the skipper his second yellow card.
With the extra-man advantage, the game quickly descended into one-way traffic, but the visitors failed to capitalise. As the home fans waited for the whistle, they finally got one in stoppage time – but rather than to signal full-time, it was for the dismissal of Szyndrowski for a professional foul.
As the frustrated crowd jeered off their side, coach Waldemar Fornalik will be wondering what can be done in order to stop this season turning into another relegation battle.
Ruch Chorzów – Pogoń Szczecin 0:2 (0:2)
Akahoshi 22′, 44′.
Matus Putnocky – Martin Konczkowski, Rafał Grodzicki, Mateusz Cichocki, Marek Szyndrowski – Maciej Urbańczyk (Maciej Iwański 46′), Łukasz Surma – Kamil Mazek (Roland Gigolaev 69′), Patryk Lipski, Marek Zieńczuk (Michał Szewczyk 86′) – Mariusz Stępiński.
Dawid Kudła – Sebastian Rudol, Jarosław Fojut, Jakub Czerwiński, Mateusz Lewandowski – Rafał Murawski, Mateusz Matras – Takuya Murayama (Patryk Małecki 65′), Takafumi Akahoshi (Michał Walski 84′), Adam Frączczak – Marcin Listkowski (Łukasz Zwoliński 56′).
Yellow Cards: Grodzicki 48′, 70′
Red Cards: Grodzicki 70′, Szyndrowski 90+2′
Referee: Sebastian Krasny (Kraków)