Apoel were the big winners of the weekend’s top of the table clash against Apollon and moved above the Limassol side at the top of the table as the championship now enters the crucial playoff stage.Omonia made sure of their place in the top six with a convincing 2-0 over AEL, overtaking Nea Salamina in the process, who could only draw at home to Alki.In a tense and fiercely contested game at the Tsirion stadium Apoel came back from a goal down, to defeat their big championship rivals Apollon 2-1.The champions just about deserved their win in a game where chances were few and far between with both sets of players more intent on keeping a clean sheet than scoring at the other end. In the opening 45 minutes Apoel managed just one good goal-scoring opportunity to Apollon’s none, while in the second half, each side had a chance each, both in added time with Papoulis and Zahid being denied by the respective goalkeepers.This was the third consecutive match that Apollon has lost to Apoel, and this despite taking the lead in this tight game just after the hour mark through their top scorer Facundo Pereira. However Apollon hung onto their lead for just three minutes, something that their coach Sofronis Avgousti said was pivotal in the final outcome.It was a soft goal to concede as Natel’s strike from the edge of the box caught Apollon goalkeeper Bruno Vale both unsighted and wrong-footed.However it was apparent over the 90 minutes that Apollon sorely missed the Croatian Anton Maglica who left Apollon for China earlier this month to continue his career at Guizhou Hengfeng. His departure may tip the scales in favour of rivals Apoel and AEL especially as the transfer period ended on the last day of January.Apoel seem to have found a new hero in their tall gangling striker Norbert Balogh. For the second consecutive game the Hungarian proved his worth, this time latching on to Zahid’s through ball to beat Apollon goalkeeper Bruno Vale from the edge of the penalty box six minutes from the end. Balogh could have doubled his tally in added time when clean through, but he unselfishly squared to Zahid who somehow managed to make a hash of it and the chance went begging.Anorthosis finished the regular season with a 3-2 away win to Ermis Aradipou but it all proved pointless as they finished outside the top six.Cleary disillusioned and saddened with all the off-field events going on at Anorthosis, their coach Jurgen Streppel made his feelings known when he took his entire team to the post-game press conference and accused the club of leaving the players unpaid for 2-3 months and without even a club doctor.Andreas Panteli resigned over the weekend as the club’s president.Omonia overcame a lacklustre AEL at the GSP stadium with their Costa Rican striker David Ramírez grabbing both goals, one in each half.AEK needed 53 minutes and a rather soft penalty to break the deadlock against relegation threatened Enosis Neon Paralimni at the Arena stadium.Eventually AEK ran out 3-0 winners with Larena, Akino and Triscovski getting onto the scoresheet.Alki managed a draw against Nea Salamina and the point may prove precious as they battle to avoid relegation. Both goals were scored in the first half with Alki taking the lead through Carlos in the 17th minute and Fustar equalising on the half hour.In the final weekend game Pafos FC moved well clear of the relegation zone as they overcame Doxa Katokopias 1-0 thanks to a 55th minute Angulo goal.
James Vincent failed a fitness test earlier in the day, joining Dean Brill, Aaron Doran, Josh Meekings and Lewis Horner on the sidelines. Stirling Albion made one change from the initial game with the Caley Jags, swapping Kevin McKinley for Ross McGeachie. Referee Mat Northcroft had an early call to make when Danny Williams bundled Steven Doris to the ground. Stirling striker Doris knocked the ball beyond Danny Devine and raced clear, with Williams bringing him down and only spared a red card thanks to the covering Gary Warren. Home skipper Warren had a header cleared off the line from an Vigurs corner and Liam Polworth lashed another change over in an effort to break the deadlock. At the other end, Darren Smith and Doris were linking well, with the latter seeing another shot blocked by Devine. Mbuyi-Mutombo opened the scoring after 28 minutes in spectacular fashion, collecting a pass from Williams and thumping the ball into the top corner from 25 yards. On a tepidly cold evening in the Highlands, Stirling were again giving a good account of themselves. An early spell of pressure in the second half brought strong appeals for a penalty when Ross Forsyth saw an effort charged down by Devine – but much to the Binos’ chagrin, Northcroft was unmoved. It proved costly as Caley Thistle went straight down the other end to double their lead on the hour. Ross Draper bore down on goal and pulled back for Vigurs, who swept an effort beyond Chris Smith. Miles Storey saw a late effort parried by Smith but there was some late cheer for the home fans, with Richie Foran and Jordan Roberts making their first appearances in six months. An Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo thunderbolt helped Caley Thistle move past Stirling Albion with a 2-0 victory to reach the fifth round of the Scottish Cup. Mbuyi-Mutombo gave the hosts the lead in this replay with a thunderous shot in the first half and Iain Vigurs added his fourth of the season to double their advantage. League Two minnows Stirling certainly did not shirk the challenge of the Scottish Cup holders in this replay but it is John Hughes’ side that will progress to face Motherwell, with the fifth round taking place on February 6.Caley Thistle made two changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Kilmarnock at the weekend. Carl Tremarco and Nat Wedderburn were out of the team, with Danny Devine and Mbuyi-Mutombo brought in.