Lega Pro returned to the peninsula last weekend after the summer recess. 77 teams in Italy’s third and fourth tiers embarking on a marathon season which they hope will culminate in promotion in early June. But of course, this wouldn’t be a lower league Italian football review without controversy and on the opening weekend, it came from an unlikely source.
In C1A, two matches were wiped out by the weather as torrential rain swept across the northern and central regions of the country. In Como, the match was 59 minutes old when referee Vincenzo Ripa decided to call a halt to proceedings. The decision infuriated the home side who were leading Pro Vercelli 2-1 but to be fair to the officials, there was no way the game could continue on a surface that resembled a boating lake. In Lumezzane, match referee Gianluca Aureliano also had to abandon the game with the players struggling to contend with the atrocious playing conditions. The only surprise was that the official saw fit for the match to start in the first place given the storms that hit shortly before kick-off.
Of the games that did fulfil 90 minutes, pre-season favourites Sorrento got off to an absolute flyer dismantling Monza 3-0 at the Stadio Briantio with new summer signing Ciro Ginestra netting twice on his league debut for the Rossoneri. It was a truly forgettable day for Monza midfielder Paolo Campinoti who gifted the visitors an opening goal after 21 minutes when he put through his own net. His misery was compounded just 15 minutes later when he was given a straight red card to leave his team-mates with an almost impossible task of rescuing anything from the game. The 20 or so Sorrento fans who made the trip north returned to Campania full of optimism for the months ahead.
The big southern derby between Foggia and Benevento finished in a 2-1 win for the visitors. The hosts went in front shortly before the break with a goal from Laurent Lanteri but were pegged back four minutes after the interval thanks to a goal from Croatian midfielder Ivan Rajcic. With time running out, Foggia defender Denny Cardin put through his own net to give new coach Giovanni Simonelli a dream start. Performance of the day in the A division however, belongs to newly promoted Carpi who top the table after week 1 thanks to a 4-0 hammering of Tritium. First-half goals from Umberto Eusepi and Ledian Memushaj were followed after the break by an own goal from Alessio Dionisi and a Gabrilele Cioffi strike deep into injury time.
In C1B it was a mixed bag of results for the teams that were relegated from Serie B last season. Frosinone went down 1-0 in Barletta thanks to a 17th minute goal from Daniele Simoncelli, a result which left Canarini coach Carlo Sabatini with this frank assessment of his team’s performance “perhaps we were still coming to terms with the shock of being in Lega Pro” explained the tactician. If his team doesn’t improve in the coming months, the side from Lazio may be here for the long haul. There was better news for Triestina who beat newly promoted Feralpi Salo’ 1-0 at the Stadio Nereo Rocco thanks to a 3rd minute strike from veteran striker Denis Godeas.
Piacenza also started life in the third tier with a win. The Biancorossi beat the Sud Tirol 2-1 thanks to goals from Simone Guerra and Fabio Foglia. The fourth relegated side Portogruaro suffered a 0-1 home defeat at the hands of Pergocrema, a 28th minute goal from defender Diaw Doudou enough to give Fabio Brini’s men all three points. In Cremona, like in Como and Lumezzane, the game had to abandoned due to the weather as the match ball floated rather than bounced around the pitch at the Giovanni Zinni. Player of the weekend in the B division was undoubtedly Andria Bat’s big goalkeeper Vitalangelo Spadavecchia. A string of wonderful saves by the 28-year-old against Spezia made sure that his team left the Stadio Alberto Picco with a share of the points.
C1A: Avellino 2-0 Foligno, Carpi 4-0 Tritium, Como v Pro Vercelli (suspended), Foggia 1-2 Benevento, Lumezzane v Taranto (suspended), Monza 0-3 Sorrento, Pavia 1-1 Reggiana, Spal 1-1 Pisa, Ternana 1-0 Viareggio.
C1B: Barletta 1-0 Frosinone, Bassano Virtus 0-1 Virtus Lanciano, Cremonese v Carrarese (suspended), Latina 1-1 Siracusa, Portogruaro 0-1 Pergocrema, Spezia 0-0 Andria Bat, Sud Tirol 1-2 Piacenza, Trapani 2-1 Prato, Triestina 1-0 Feralpi Salo’
C2 Round up
In C2A, championship favourites Alessandria got off to a winning start beating Renate 2-1 at the Stadio Giuseppe Moccagatta. The visitors went in front after only ten minutes thanks to a goal from Marco Gaeta but a 27th minute strike from Andrea Cunaz brought the sides level and in second-half injury time, Daniele Degano wrapped up the points for I Grigi.
There was an astonishing game in Piedmont where Casale beat San Marino by the odd goal in seven. What was even more amazing was that the half-time score was 4-2 to the home side. Riccardo Taddei bagged a brace for the hosts in an incredible opening 45 minutes of football. It was also raining goals in Mantova were the Virgiliani were held to a 3-3 draw by Giacomense. Two goals in the opening 15 minutes by Stefano Del Sante were not enough to give the hosts all three points in a scintillating opening day fixture at the Stadio Danilo Martelli.
Perugia suffered an opening day defeat in C2B going down 2-1 in Aversa against Aversa Normanna. Umberto Varriale and Ferdinando Castaldo put the hosts in front before Giampietro Clemente pulled one back for the visitors on the stroke of half-time. Catanzaro, now under the stewardship of Francesco Cozza failed to find the net on the match-day 1 as they were held to a goalless draw by Melfi.
Neapolis Frattese and Vibonese played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Stadio Pasquale Ianniello as did Fondi and Arzanese who shared the points, and four goals, at the Stadio Domenico Purificato. The B division of Italy’s fourth tier failed to produce a single away win on the opening weekend of action.
C2A: Alessandria2-1 Renate, Bellaria Igea Marina 2-1 Virtus Entella, Casale 4-3 San Marino, Cuneo 1-1 Borgo a Buggiano, Lecco 0-0 Valenzana, Mantova 3-3 Giacomense, Poggibonsi 2-2 Treviso, Pro Patri 0-3 Santarcangelo, Rimini 3-0 Sambonifacese, Savona 1-0 Montichiari.
C2B: Aversa Normanna 2-1 Perugia, Chieti 1-0 Milazzo, Fondi 2-2 Arzanese, Gavorrano 3-1 Ebolitana, Giulianova 1-0 Aprilia, L’Aquila 0-0 Campobasso, Melfi 0-0 Catanzaro, Neapolis 2-2 Vibonese, Paganese 2-0 Celano Olimpia, Vigor Lamezia 1-0 Fano Alma Juventus
Follow all the Lega Pro action this season at The Football Express and follow Steve Mitchell on twitter (@barafundler).
Photo from Boys Casale (Blogspot).