Spring 2020. Southern Ukraine.

Extracts from the diary of Grigor Pasha, manager of second-tier MFC Mykolaiv.

23 March

So, we had some fun hosting some friendly competitions — the Black Sea Shield and the Black Sea Trophy. We got our squad match fit and, most importantly, our so-called sharp shooters — Kravchenko, Soldatov, and Malyarchuk — all got their shooting boots on and reminded themselves what it feels like to hit the back of the neck.

And yesterday it paid off. We went to Minaj, Malyarchuk scored a pen, and we won. Three much-needed points and hope in the early-spring air.

19 April

The good news is that we’ve made ourselves difficult to break down and difficult to beat.

The bad news is that, in the end, we do still get beaten, if only by the narrowest of margins.

Yesterday was better. After defeats by the mighty Rukh Lviv and the less-than-mighty Avanhard Kramatorsk, we got a point, at home to Volyn.

But it should have been three. In an uneventful game, we took the lead after 76 minutes. But then we instantly conceded a penalty through a clumsy challenge from Ryabov, whom I’m beginning to suspect is light in the head.

You’d need a sport psych to work out why these players can’t see a game out — but the board won’t allow me that luxury.

Still, it broke the run of defeats. Next up is the underwhelming Prykarpattya and my message to the lads all week will be, ‘This time we can go one better’.

Seriously, I’m hopeful.

Photo by Absent69 (CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

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