This match report for Flora' debut in the European campaign it's the debut of Barry Ross Linton, commonly known as 'Baz'. Baz is a graphic designer (you can find his works and portfolio here at 'Barry Linton Design'). From London, he is a big football passionate and a great fan of West Ham United. Baz is a proud member and player of Rumori Calcio having debuted in an official game of Estonian football last weekend (Estonian Cup 1/64) .
All the pictures in this article are by Janek Eslon from FC Flora Facebook page.
- Flora secure the 4th win of their European campaigns since 1994-95
- The last win dated back to 1998 when Flora won 3-1 against Steaua Bucharest
- The return game in one week in Skopje Filip II national stadium
by Barry Linton, Tallinn
The sun was shining, the cheerleaders were busting their moves, the Flora fans were loud and fierce in their tone. In the meantime was hot, flustered and still trying to log on to wi-fi. I gained my composure as I found myself looking down from the unfamiliar view of the press box and if I was completely honest, I was craving a cold beer.
From my understanding, both teams have a great tradition of developing their young players from their academies, with an ethos of playing the ball on the ground. (reminds me of my beloved West Ham United in the 90’s). Flora and Europe historically do not sit too well but, I like a good underdog story and I was hoping to witness a new beginning here at the A.LeCoq Arena for my debut report.
I was looking forward to this.
Flora set themselves up in 4-1-4-1 formation with Rabontnicki lining up 4-3-3.
The first half gave the crowd very little to work with, it was a tight affair. Toom was the first of the keepers to be forced into a save on 8 mins after an Altiparmakovski and Mitrov combination. It took Flora until 13 mins to retaliate with an effort. Jürgenson won Flora free kick, only for Sappinen to miss the target from a Frolov delivery.
Pressure followed from Rabotnicki but the Flora defense stood their ground.
A flurry fowls of and free kicks lead to the first Yellow being shown to Trajcevski of Rabotnicki. The midfield play was becoming choppy, but you could see the intent was there from both teams to play short, sharp passing.
Flora conceded an unassuming free kick 40 yards from their goal only for Ilievski to power his effort wide of the left post.
The home team enjoyed some success down the left-hand side but at half time only a blade of grass was separating these two teams after a credible first 45mins.
The 2nd half saw Rabotnicki showing the initiative by bringing on Anene for Mitrov to start. Something needed to change. On 50 minutes, a free kick from Vujcic resulted in a comfortable palm away from Toom to concede a corner. Rabotnicki were just starting to have their say on the game, they were about to turn the screw.
On 53 minutes, Flora brought on the lively Beglarishvili for Sappinen to add some fresh spark to the midfield.
A long-range strike from Frolov drew a comfortable save from Efremov.
On 59 minutes, Flora attacked with a fast break down the right from Kams delivering a peach of a cross straight onto the head of Gussev catching the Rabotnicki defense flat-footed. This was a text book, well-worked goal from Flora. It was game on from here. Flora could smell blood and were going for the kill.
The home team stepped up their game, spurred on by their fans who had somehow raised their volume another decibel.
Rabotnicki were shaken.
There was now a pace and intensity to Flora’s game that had been lacking until know. Alliku was a bright spark during this spell and lead by example, coming close twice in a 5-minute onslaught that would have made uncomfortable viewing for the Rabotnicki bench and their loyal fans.
Another change from visitors bringing Markoski at the expense of Sahiti.
A nice through ball on 66 mins from Beglarishvili to Logua was blocked and at this point of the game you could only see one team going to win this.
Flora fouled to capitalize with a 2nd goal during in this strong period of the game and Rabotnicki started to regain their composure again.
Further subs followed with Jovanovski coming in Trajcevski making way for Rabotnicki. Flora responded with Tamm supplying fresh legs at the expense of Logua, who had put in a solid shift for the team.
A Rabotnicki free kick on 73 minutes created a penalty box scramble and Alliku took one for team, going down after a foul from Ilijoski. This bought some valuable minutes was an opportunity to Flora to re-organize.
The last 15 mins Flora found themselves pushed back and feeling the pressure. Rabotnicki could sense the anxiety that was starting to creep into the Flora team. Rabotnicki grew in confidence and were getting closer to an equalizer.
A well-timed substitution on 80 mins from the Flora bench broke the play and pressure from Rabotnicki as Luigend was on for Šlein.
There was one last driving run from Alliku only for the cross to get caught after the feet of Tamm.
3 successive corners for Rabotnicki from the 85th minute required some last minute concentration from an otherwise well organised, solid looking Flora defense.
2nd half substitute Anene was strong a powerful for Rabotnicki and he looked a handful towards the end of the game. Toom certainly had more to deal with in the last 15 minutes, but he was in control.
This was my first time watching Flora tonight and I think they look a tidy outfit, I like them. It was a good all-round, solid team performance. From my report it's clear which player caught my eye, Alliku was my MOTM. Fast, direct and always a threat.
Both teams applied themselves well, but I would say the score line was an honest reflection of the game. I saw no evidence of history repeating itself tonight for Flora. If they maintain the some focus and commitment for the 2nd leg their fans will experience another night of European football at the A.Le Coq Arena in the not to distant future.
Thank you to Flora and Rabotnicki for an enjoyable night and good luck in the 2nd leg.
Next week we will have Deni Delev live commenting from Skopje!