Two games in Italy including a visit to Chiavari and Piacenza.
11th February 2017 Virtus Entella 0 SPAL 3 Serie B 2,692 (c. 400 away)
Entella play in Chiavari, about a 40 minute train ride along the coast south of Genoa.
On a Saturday afternoon the town is dominated by a large street market.
That provided a pleasant precursor (plus a glass of vino rosso) before the football.
Which took place at the Stadio Communale, a mix of semi-temporary stands at either end and more permanent small stands along the sides.
There was a good contingent from Ferrara who would certainly enjoy their visit.
Because within 17 minutes the outcome was effectively decided with SPAL three goals ahead.
The home sides long unbeaten home run was over and they were down to ten men.
In the early minutes SPAL had pressed forward and soon gained a penalty after Senegal defender Baraye was adjudged to have brought down a visiting forward.
He made the walk of shame and the spot kick was dispatched.
A further two goals, both headers from crosses were soon added.
Entella did miss one clear chance but despite making various substitutions and alterations to their formation they never look like getting back into the contest.
The second half became a non-event with SPAL controlling possession and Entella pretty much accepting their fate.
Although the home fans berated the referee in the end they left early to contemplate starting another run of home successes.
For SPAL and their happy fans it was a continuation of their challenge for promotion to Serie A.
2th February 2017 Piacenza 3 Cremonese 0 Lega Pro 3,869 (c. 350 away)
I took an early train from Genoa and checked into my hotel near Milano Centrale before taking the local train to Piacenza.
The home side faced financial issues a few years ago and are now trying, as another entity, to recover past glories (they won the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1986)
They have a ground, the Stadio Leonardo Garilli, that can certainly accommodate higher-level crowds, though as they say they would not build one like this anymore.
For this derby a sizeable group of fans came across from Cremona and they were in a section of the right hand end.
Opposite was the lively home fans.
We had choreo and some flares.
And it was the home fans who would celebrate as would their ecstatic players.
The first half saw no goals although Piacenza did hit the goal frame from a free kick.
However Cremonese had more of the ball but failed to create many opportunities.
Straight after the break home pressure resulted in a header from close range for the opener.
Two more were added by tall striker Niccolo Romero, the first after a defender’s error, the second from a cross and conversion at the far post.
All were enjoyed to the maximum with the home ultras.
So not much for the higher placed Cremonese to take away.
I took a brisk walk back to the station (it had been chilly) and warmed up with some duck, vino and gelato back in Milan.