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Preview: Neman Grodno vs. Belshina - prediction, form guide, head-to-head record

:Headline: Preview: Neman Grodno vs. Belshina - prediction, form guide, head-to-head record:
Sports Mole previews Friday night's Belarusian Premier League clash between Neman Grodno and Belshina, including predictions and head-to-head records.

While the coronavirus pandemic has brought sporting action to a halt around the world, the Belarusian Premier League continues to defy logic and plough a lone furrow in Europe by pressing on with top-flight action.

Friday night sees mid-table Neman Grodno host newly-promoted Belshina, who have failed to pick up a single point in their opening three games back in the top flight so far.

Match preview

Against all odds, and seemingly against all sage advice, the Belarusian top-flight season enters gameweek four this weekend, with Neman Grodno looking to climb up to second in the table.

Friday's hosts have won one, drawn one and lost one of their opening three games so far, but have only conceded one goal in that time, giving them the joint-best defensive record from the embryonic stages of the campaign.

Grodno have teetered around mid-table over the past couple of seasons and have immediately resumed their place at that level this term, although they will be firm favourites to pick up their second win of the season this weekend.

Igor Kovalevich's side have lost just one of their last six home league games in a run which stretches back to the start of September, including a 2-0 triumph over Vitebsk in their only match at Stadyen Nyoman so far this term.

Belshina, by contrast, were beaten by Torpedo BelAZ in their only away game so far this season, and you have to go back to September 2016 for their last top-flight win on the road.

In fairness, the visitors have spent the intervening years in the second tier and last term their away record was impeccable - indeed, last month's defeat to Torpedo ended a 15-game unbeaten run on the road which stretched back more than a year and included 12 wins.

Eduard Gradobev's side only lost two games in total en route to promotion from the First Division in 2018-19, but they have already surpassed that total this term with three defeats from three since their promotion.

Unsurprisingly, that leaves them rock bottom of the table, although they may take some shred of optimism from the fact that their last two defeats both only came by a 1-0 margin against teams that finished in the top half of the table last season.

The key to turning those narrow defeats into points lies in the goalscoring stakes, though, and Belshina already look to be feeling the effects of losing top-scorer Aleksandr Yushin - who netted 26 times in 27 league games last term - during the off-season.

Belshina were comfortably the leading scorers in the second tier last season but have found the back of the net just once since their step up to the top flight.

Neman Grodno form: LWD

Belshina form: LLL

Head To Head

These two sides met in the Belarusian Cup last season, when second-tier Belshina shocked Grodno with a 3-1 win.

That was only their second victory in this fixture since 2005, though - a run which spanned 24 matches across all competitions.

Belshina could now win back-to-back matches against Grodno for the first time since 1999.

We say: Neman Grodno 1-0 Belshina

Grodno boast a solid defensive record so far which, when coupled with Belshina's struggles in front of goal and their home advantage, makes them firm favourites for this match. It may not be a high-scoring affair, but we are backing the hosts to come out on top.

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