Monthly review: FC Torpedo Kutaisi remain on top in Georgia, aided by in-form Georgi Megreladze.
By Vakhtang Bzikadze
Georgi Megreladze's double gave FC Torpedo Kutaisi a 2-0 away victory against FC Sioni Bolnisi to safeguard their three-point advantage at the top of the Georgian Premier League.
The 26-year-old son of legendary Torpedo striker Meraba Megreladze has returned to Georgia after four years in Greek and Russian football and took no time to show his class, hitting five goals to move above Dinamo's Mikheil Kakaladze in the scoring charts. Both strikers were on target when the two sides met on 21 August and fought out a 1-1 draw.
FC Dinamo Tbilisi, who are on 16 points, three behind the league leaders, will be without goalkeeper Irakli Zoidze for a month as he recovers from the thigh injury that forced him to leave the field at half-time in the UEFA Cup first round first-leg tie against Wisla Kraków.
Former Georgia Under-21 keeper Zurab Mamaladze took over at the interval and swiftly let in four goals to overturn Dinamo's 2-0 advantage. An own goal by the Polish team leaves Dinamo hopeful of coming through in the return game in front of their own supporters.
FC Tbilisi have repaired the damage caused by their 7-0 aggregate defeat by Legia Warszawa in the UEFA Cup second qualifying round and in the last two games have been boosted by the services of former Dinamo forward Sandro Iashvili. In the last league match against FC WIT Georgia, Iashvili, who was on trial at FC Krylya Sovetov Samara and then loaned to Dinamo's city rivals, scored one and made the other in a 2-0 away win.
After successive defeats by FC Lokomotivi Tbilisi, Dinamo and FC Dila Gori, in which nine goals were conceded and none scored, FC Kolkheti-1913 Poti changed their coach. Kolkhov Davit Makharadze has given way to Sergo Gabelaia, who had worked as an assistant coach at the club five years earlier.
Elite division newcomers FC Zestafoni also parted with their Moldovan head coach Vladimir Zemleanoi following a 5-0 defeat by FC Dinamo Batumi. No successor has been announced as yet. It has proved another hard campaign for the club who were relegated to the regional league last season but then granted a place back among the elite by a decision of the Georgian Professional League instead of FC Samgurali Tskaltubo.
After five successive defeats a number of experienced players were added to the squad but Zestafoni still have only one victory to their name, defeating FC Dila Gori 2-0 on matchday 6 with their opponents handicapped by the dismissal of goalkeeper Georgi Tsinadze.