I’m Free

Poland Trip part three

GAME

Legia Warszawa 2 Arka Gdynia 0

Ekstraklasa

Attendance: 14,428

Gate: 70 zloty (£15.62).

Programme: 3 zloty (£0.63)

Standing just inside the turnstile, out in the open, in driving freezing rain is hardly my idea of fun. But that is exactly what I was doing 90 minutes before kick-off at the Polish Army Stadium on Sunday evening.

This was the only Ekstraklasa game that I had not been able to pre-purchase a ticket for, inquiring over the phone as to the possible availability, I was told it shouldn’t be a problem. If I had known it would be 17,000 empty seats of  problem I would have stayed in the warmth of a cafe or restaurant a bit longer.

Anyway, the reason for me standing in the rain was due to the fact I had my tablet with me. Given the reaction of some of the stewards this was akin to a machete or something as they all started shouting. Five minutes later I was searched (again) by somebody new and led away. Trying my best to explain I was on a day trip from Gdansk I was led into the under stadium car park and told I would have to leave my tablet with a kind of reception area and I could collect it after the game.

Back out into the rain and the marquee area I had clocked to get a warm drink and some fairly decent scran of sausage and pork steak. Very tasty. Food scoffed, I made my way up the steps to have a look at the ground and was pleasantly surprised to see the playing area glassed off and therefore fairly wind free.

Finally with 10 minutes to kick-off I made my way to my seat in the Kazimierz Deyna Stand and got ready for kick-off. Once again the Ultras kept us all entertained, though this display was far more about chanting than the visual display offered in Poznan. The noise they made for the few thousand in attendance was incredible, a full stadium must be some experience.

Underway, the opening was cagey and a little error strewn, until the 10th minute. Then the visitors had a decent bit of build up play before an effort by Kun from 20 yards stung Malarz’s palms in the home goal. From the resulting corner an effort by Siemasko flew across the front of the goal where the slightest touch would have surely taken it into the back of the net.

Whilst Legia were in control it took them 30 minutes to test the Arka stopper, Guilherme with an almost identical effort to Kun’s being saved spectacularly by Steinbors. The diminutive Brazilian seeing this as time to rouse the crowd even more. Legia were now picking up their game and moments later the midfielder set up Niezgoda at the near post, but his effort was blocked.

In the 37th minute the hosts took the lead, a free-kick curled in low by Macynski was swept home by Niezgoda who looked suspiciously offside, he even seemed to think so himself, but no flag, correctly as it turned out, 1-0. It was all Legia now, and with minutes to go before the interval a loose high ball in the area was spectacularly scissor kicked to goal by Guilherme only for the effort to be stopped brilliantly by Steinbors.

Back to the warmth of the concourse for the interval for 15 minutes before back out into the cold but noisy arena.

It looked like only a matter of time before Legia added a second, on the hour Guilherme had an effort blocked by a brave block from the visitors defence. Seemingly bored with all the action at the other end Legia’s Spanish central defender Astiz tried to turn a cross into his own net, Malarz reacting brillianly to claw the ball away for a corner.

We entered the last 15 minutes, Kucharczyk was set up by Guilherme and smashed an effort against the bar from a tight angle with the help of a fingertip from Steinbors. Determined to get a second, the 2 players involved in the last move swapped roles and both back heeled the ball in the 6 yard box only to see Steinbors save on the line. Finally, with 5 minutes remaining the second came, on the break Kucharczyk was free and this time Steinbors could not do a thing, 2-0. Game over.

Pre-Match

So, an internal flight, always a source of intrigue. LOT Polish Airlines were to be no different. A propellor plane too. On a day when 100 kmph winds were forecast. What could go wrong? As we waited at the beginning of the runway for a plane landing, I was delighted to see the Ryanair plane get quite low before pulling up again. It was getting blown all over. So we would wait then? Not likely. Straight to it, a few yards in and we aborted the effort.

Now I am not scared of flying at all. But as we turned around on the runway, went straight back and turned around again I was beginning to wonder if this was  the day I would meet my maker. Attempt number two was successful in the end, though how we got up I have no idea and when we did we got blown all over the place.

Somehow safely in Warsaw, I had a mooch around the old town. Not a place for a Sunday as most things appeared to be closed.

Post Match

Once I had collected my tablet, a taxi ride to the airport later, I was on my return flight to Gdansk. None of the previous malarkey. Or so I thought. Coming in to land was unbelievable. As we managed it, I hate to think what the Ryanair flight must have been like. We were tipping one way then the other, easily at 45 degrees to the runway. it was like the best roller-coaster ride ever.

FACTS

Games: 433

Goals:  1473

Grounds: 206

Games since a 0-0: 46

Milestone: 194th Clean Sheet

Random Fact: My 4th highest attendance of all-time

SOUNDTRACK

Lovegod – The Soup Dragons

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