Former Philadelphia Union midfielder Anthony Fontana made his debut for Ascoli, Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann were again inactive for barely-breathing Venezia and Andrija Novakovich saw Frosinone’s promotion hopes evaporate.
Ascoli 4 – 1 Ternana
Anthony Fontana finally made his debut for Ascoli in their final regular season game, as they easily beat Ternana to gain momentum heading into the promotion playoff.
Ascoli had already smashed their opponents to bits before Fontana entered the game in the 83rd minute. Frank Tsadjout scored the first of his three goals in the sixth minute with an easy tap-in from short range, then a second just before the 20-minute mark with a low strike on the turn from near the penalty spot.
Ternana pulled one back just after the half thanks to a fine header from the right by Anthony Partipilo, however Tsadjout completed his hat trick at the hour with another easy tap-in, then Ternana’s ironically-named defender Marino Defendi gifted them a fourth with a lunging own-goal three minutes later.
In his debut, Fontana came in for the final seven minutes of regulation in place of central midfielder Marcel Büchel, and did well for his active first appearance, completing five of six passes, having 13 total touches and creating one late chance.
Ascoli finish the regular season in sixth place, are now three games from promotion to Serie A. They will host seventh-place Benevento on Friday, and if they win, will face Pisa in a two-legged semifinal starting four days later.
Frosinone 1 – 2 Pisa
Andrija Novakovich and Frosinone saw their promotion hopes put to rest in the final moments of their game on Saturday, as a home loss to Pisa coupled with Perugia’s unexpected late win saw them fall out of promotion playoff.
As has often been the case this season, Novakovich began the game on the Frosinone bench, and came on with just over 20 minutes in regulation with the team desperately hunting for an equalizer.
Frosinone kicked off only needing a draw to secure their spot in the playoff, however were dealt an early double-blow when George Puscas acrobatically struck from short range in the sixth minute, then Giuseppe Sibilli hit a right-footed shot from the left side to the lower far corner for the 2-0 lead 14 minutes later.
They were given a way back into the game in the 65th minute after Maxime Leverbe saw an attempted pass on a fast-break deflect off his foot and take a high path just under the crossbar for the 2-1.
However, Frosinone were simply unable to put together the final product despite holding 60% of possession and having a 14-6 advantage on shot attempts.
Novakovich was brought into the game for right-sided forward Luigi Canotto in the 69th minute as the team hunted for any creativity and guile in the front.
However, similar to the front-three attackers who started the game, he was fairly ineffective against the stout Pisa defense, only managing 13 total ball contacts in over 20 minutes, completing five of seven passes, taking no shots, but helping to create one unsuccessful chance.
Despite being on the losing end, Frosinone were still occupying the eighth-place spot thanks to Perugia and Monza remaining scoreless, however saw their hopes dashed when Perugia scored a last-minute winner, thus catapulting past Novakovich and his teammates for the final spot in the playoff.
The loss ends Frosinone’s season earlier than they had hoped. Novakovich is still under contract with the team for two more seasons, however with his playing time dropping significantly this season compared to the previous, he might be searching for a new home in the summer.
Both Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann stayed glued to Venezia’s bench as they pulled off an important win, coming back with a pair of goals in the final minutes to defeat visiting Bologna by a 4-3 margin. Last-place Venezia are still on life support, and have a narrow chance to survive if they win their final two games, first at Rome on Saturday then at home against Cagliari one week later.
Weston McKennie is still recovering from a broken foot, and was not in uniform on Friday as Juventus lost 2-1 on the road to Genoa.