Up and Down

Why are the rosanero colors so perfect for this team? Because they match the cyclical two-steps-forward, one-step-back nature of the results this season.

Coming off an easy win against Vibonese, Palermo had a crucial road match against promotion rivals Avellino. When the home side scored 14 minutes into the match via Antonio Matera’s right-footed shot, it looked like another travesty on the road was in store. Yet, Palermo would draw level almost immediately afterward, thanks to who else but Matteo Brunori, with his 17th goal of the season. An excellent response from going down a goal and a record in Rosanero for Brunori, who tallied his 8th consecutive match with a goal. Avellino would threaten only once more in the first half, thanks to ex-Palermo winger Mamadou Kanoute who was the main threat with his constant movement from the wing.

Matteo Brunori celebrates his record setting goal with Francesco De Rose against Avellino

It would only take a few minutes into the second half for Palermo to take the lead. Once again, the goal was primarily the credit of Brunori, who went on a one-man counter attack and drew three defenders around him in the Avellino box. He expertly laid the ball off across the face of goal for Nicola Valente who calmly smashed it into the roof of the goal. A shock 2-1 lead on the road against a tough opponent! The Rosanero would hold onto the lead for the remainder of the match, with things becoming testy in the final few minutes. Avellino would have a man sent off and they never truly threatened for the rest of the game. Palermo got their first road win in seven matches and earned a massive three points. It was also the first time the club had ever beaten Avellino in their stadium in Serie C.

Up next was a match against basement dwellers Fidelis Andria at the Renzo Barbera. Salivating at the prospect of an easy win, coach Silvio Baldini opted for a couple new names in the starting XI, including former outcast Michele Somma. The good feelings lasted for roughly 17 minutes before a bucket of ice cold water brought everyone back to reality: Fidelis Andria would take a shocking lead thanks to a goal from Antonio Messina. All of a sudden, the Rosanero were losing at home to a relegation-threatened side. Seven minutes into the second half, Palermo had a lifeline thanks to a penalty. Roberto Floriano stepped up to the spot, but his kick was rather timid and saved by the Fidelis Andria keeper, Umberto Saracco. As the minutes ticked on, the frantic pace and desperation started to set in. Palermo urgently needed a goal, but every opportunity was either wasted by a sputtering offense or saved by Saracco. In the 85th minute, Gregorio Luperini would rescue the Rosanero via a header (and his second goal of the season). Palermo poured forward in the game’s final minutes. They nearly took the lead but Beppe Fella’s header from a corner was somehow kept out of the goal and Brunori missed the rebound. Maxime Giron had the last good chance for Palermo but that, too, was saved. Palermo only mustered a single point at home against one of the worst teams in group C. For all the momentum and excitement the win against Avellino had brought, the draw against Fidelis Andria felt on par with a devastating loss.

The club had another chance to right the ship with an away match to another relegation battler in Potenza. In the first 25 minutes, Palermo had the better of the chances, with both Jacopo Dall’Oglio and Valente going close to goal. The Rosanero were punished minutes later after a cross from Giuseppe Coccia found Niccolò Romero poorly marked by Ivan Marconi. Romero put Potenza ahead during a period where Palermo was dominating. Just before halftime, Marconi nearly made up for his error from a corner kick, but his header to the far side of goal was cleared off the line by a Potenza defender. Edoardo Lancini nearly scored from the rebound with a header of his own to the opposite side of goal, but once again, another Potenza player was there to clear it off the line. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Potenza doubled their lead with a phenomenal goal from Luigi Cuppone. He unleashed a right-footed curler to the far corner of goal from just inside the left side of the box. All of a sudden, Palermo were down 2-0 and completely deflated. Cuppone should have put the match away in the 75th minute but his one-on-one with Samuele Massolo was wasted and the Palermo keeper did an excellent job to block his shot.

That mistake proved to be costly for Potenza. Two minutes after the save, super sub Edoardo Soleri gave Palermo a lifeline with a lovely goal to pull the Rosanero within one. Three minutes after Soleri’s goal, Brunori had the ball in the back of the net, but the ref waved it off for what supposedly was an offside decision (replays looked very suspect on that call). Thankfully, Palermo wouldn’t have to lament that decision as Soleri won a penalty in the 89th minute. This time, Brunori would take it and bury it. Palermo snatched a point on the road even though it could have easily been a loss.

Nevertheless, the last three matches underline just how frustrating this team has been this season. An exhilarating win against Avellino should have followed two more wins against lowly opponents, but Palermo earned just two points from the following two matches. With just five matches remaining, Palermo are still in 6th place on 53 points. With Bari in firm control of promotion, the Rosanero are now all but out of the running for 2nd place occupied by Catanzaro on 61 points. It seems as though Palermo will need to hope for a third place finish heading into the playoffs as they are still only 3 points behind Avellino, currently in third. Their final opponents are Paganese (18), Monopoli (5) and Bari (1) away with Picerno (10) and the derby against Catania (13) at home. Up or down – how will Palermo finish out the season?

3 Responses

  1. Do the teams finishing 2nd-10th in each girone go to the promotion playoff? With higher seeded teams not playing until the later rounds? I’m confused about Lega Pro’s promotion rules the more I read up on them

    1. Yes, that’s exactly it. I’ll have a post for that once the “regular season” is complete.