2001: An Ace Squad-yssey – Season 3: Part 3 | @cmclassicsquads

Friday has arrived! Nick is here to ease you into the weekend with the latest from the 01/02 Aces. Whisper it quietly but the lads are starting to find some form…

Buongiorno! Thank you for joining me for another feast of hybrid champ action! Last week my CM01/02 Aces made a reasonable start in the league, and got through their opening matches in the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup, so let’s now see what this week’s 8 matches bring…

Up first are Fidelis Andria, who are one of the 4 promoted sides. Just as Kerr and Tsigalko are hitting form, we lose them to international duty, so Lundén and Samba start and waste little time in making an impact, putting us 2-0 up before the hosts pull one back before half time. Madeira’s 6th goal of the season settles the nerves briefly late on, but Manca’s 2nd goal sets up a tense last couple of minutes but we hold on.

I hate to say I told you so but…

Reggiana are next, they’re 6th in the table and their most notable summer signing was Gianluca Zambrotta. Tsigalko returns from international duty with a bang but despite a further 6 shots on target, it’s only 1-0 at the break. Lundén grabs his 2nd goal in as many games with 8 minutes remaining and it’s 3 league wins on the bounce.

Aghahowa returns after 3 months out with a spine injury, which is a welcome sight, but he’ll have a job getting back into the team at the minute.

Now for a trip to lowly Piacenza. They’ve a few reasonable players such as future Ipswich keeper Matteo Sereni, Stephen Tataw, Giuliano Giannichedda, and Giovanni Stroppa, but still find themselves 15th. They have the better of a goalless 1st half, and luckily for us failed to convert any of their 7 shots at goal. It’s looking like a bad day at the office and dropped points until Källström saves the day with 10 minutes remaining.

Back to Europe, and we welcome Shakhtar (or Shakhtyor) Donetsk, who have just 4 real players in among a host of greys. It’s a fantastic start, with Källström’s 2nd goal in 2 games followed by a 12-minute Tsigalko hat trick to make it 4-0 at half time. I’m expecting more goals in the 2nd half but little happens and although disappointed, I’m pleased not to concede, and we break our attendance record once again.

More cup action follows, this time of the domestic kind, as we make our 2nd visit to Florence of the season. Tsigalko fires in from 25 yards on 25 minutes and adds a 2nd just a minute later. Batigol pulls one back and it’s 2-1 after an action-packed 1st half that has seen 18 shots at goal from both teams. Madeira makes it 3 at the start of the 2nd half and Tsigalko completes his 2nd hat trick in as many games in the last minute. That boy really is starting to look the part.

Our reward for the win is a quarter-final date with Vicenza.

Just as I’m savouring one victory, our very own Jamie Victory is sidelined for a couple of weeks with a back strain.

With the cup games out of the way for the time being, we’ve a run of 3 league matches to finish this week’s instalment, starting with our 3rd meeting with Brescia of the season. There’s an early injury to West, so Prutton is on and a shuffle ensues. We lead through an unlikely source as Okoronkwo gets his 1st Aces goal. We’ve a goal disallowed on 62, but Källström and Tsigalko both score in the last 5 minutes to make the result look like it was a walk in the park when it really wasn’t.

Do I not like that…

4th-placed Napoli were a tough nut to crack last season as we drew 1-1 and lost 2-1 to them. They picked up Corentin Martins and the much-travelled Giuseppe Signori over the summer. We’re denied a penalty on 5 minutes but Tsigalko, Kerr and Selakovic put us 3-0 up at half time. Martins replies but Tsigalko mutes his celebrations and it ends 4-1, with Aghahowa coming on for some valuable minutes towards the end.

We finish away to Genoa, who are doing ok in 8th place. It’s a goalless 1st half but we’ve had way more chances and shots at goal than them and we’ve another super keeper performance on our hands from Mario Ielpo. We continue knocking on the door in the 2nd half, and just as all seems lost, we get a late corner and force Tatti to head past his man of the match team mate and into his own net to sneak a win.

So we end with a win, and the good news doesn’t end there as I’m awarded manager of the month for October, and after winning all of our matches this month, I’m not surprised.

Victory returns from his back strain and Ibrahim Said also returns after a year out with a broken leg.

As episodes go, this one couldn’t have gone much better. We racked up 8 wins out of 8, scoring 22 goals and conceding just 4. We’ve climbed to 3rd in the league, 3 points behind leaders Inter and with a game in hand on 2nd-placed Juventus. We’re also the top scorers and have one of the meanest defences, and with my talented young team seemingly coming of age, there are lots of reasons to be cheerful at the moment.

Join me next week and find out whether the cheerfulness continues as we face our sternest test so far as we play our 2nd leg with Shakhtyor Donetsk and face Milan, Inter and Juventus in between both legs of our Coppa Italia quarter-final with Vicenza in an episode that will make or break our season. Ciao for now!

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