Sillamae Kalev huffed and puffed to a 2-0 win over Johvi this afternoon. Both sides had a man sent off in the first half, before two goals from Evgeny Kabaev secured the points. Sillamae were comfortable throughout the match but wasted a number of promising opportunities to make the scoreline more convincing.
Sillamae made two changes from the 1-0 win over Narva, with Aleksandr Dubokin moving up to the right wing in place of Stanislav Murikhin, and Aleksandr Volodin slotting in at right back. Daniil Ratnikov replaced Denis Vnukov in the centre of midfield alongside Deniss Tjapkin.
Johvi made three changes from their 5-0 thrashing of Kalev, with Viktor Gusev replacing Valeri Smelkov in goal, Deniss Kulikov coming in for the suspended Zahharenkov, and Lasha Naveriani taking the place of Maksim Bazjukin, who was also suspended.
Sillamäe started the brighter, pressing forward early on and looking to exploit any gaps in the Johvi defence. Silich managed to break free down the right two minutes in, but his low cross could only find the goalkeeper with plenty of space for him to aim at.
Johvi were looking to hit Sillamäe on the counter, and showed a few early glimpses of some fight, but their inability to confidently deal with a couple of early corners threatened to derail them. Gusev had to tip over a Sidorenkov free kick from the left after 7 minutes, before Silich struck a shot from a narrow angle into the side netting four minutes later.
The first booking of the match came after just 12 minutes, as Egor Potapov was cautioned for a hefty challenge on Silich.
Naveriani was seeing a fair amount of the ball for Johvi, but their attacks rarely reached the edge of the Sillamäe box, as the hosts looked the more threatening. Silich’s 17th minute ball into the box from the left just evaded the lurking Kabaev, who was free and primed for an easy tap-in. A minute later, Kabaev worked himself some space in the box but smashed his shot over the crossbar.
Silich was proving to be a tricky customer down Sillamäe’s left wing, getting in behind the Johvi defence and wriggling free of his marker on numerous occasions. His 21st minute appeal for a penalty was turned down by the referee after claims he was bundled over in the box, and Kabaev suffered a same fate himself 60 seconds later as the man in black refused to take the bait.
A glut of half chances came and went for Sillamäe, who looked every bit a team about to strike a decisive blow. Johvi’s threat had diminished somewhat as they were forced to keep tabs on their opponents, but Sillamäe’s haste to nick a goal seemed to be hampering them a little, as a couple of rash shots and rushed passes put paid to clear cut chances.
The game suddenly boiled over in the 35th minute as both sides were reduced to 10 men. Silich tried to wriggle free of the Johvi defence on the edge of the box and appeared to be hacked down by Smirnov, who didn’t take kindly to what he deemed to have been a dive by the Sillamäe player.
Smirnov’s confrontation of the floored Silich resulted in a multi-player tussle, in which Silich appeared to raise his arms a number of times, and Smirnov’s excessive reaction spilled over. After calming both sets of players down, the referee brandished a red card to Smirnov for his role in the skirmish, and one to Silich, who seemed a little peeved to be receiving equal punishment.
Until that point, the match had shown no signs of turning ugly. Sillamäe had now lost their most threatening player, and Johvi’s defensive ranks had been undesirably depleted.
Alexander Nikulin tried to continue the hostilities by getting himself booked on 40 minutes for a foul on Dudarev, but the match trundled through three minutes of injury time without further notable incident.
The half time break saw no changes and the second half began in the same vein as the first, with Sillamäe pushing forward and getting the ball wide. Mashichev’s centre found Tjapkin on the edge of the box, but his low shot was blocked out.
Sillamäe were missing Silich’s incision down the left, but Mashichev was trying his best to fill the gap. His running down the wing was providing an opening for the hosts, but his indecision in the 53rd minute saw him waste a promising position. Johvi appeared content to stifle the centre, with Sillamäe’s ability to find space wide negated by their lack of end product at times.
The breakthrough did finally come in the 56th minute, and it was that man Kabaev once more as he found some space in the box to strike a shot high into the goal, giving Gusev no chance. It was a deserved goal for the hosts and they will have been relieved that the deadlock hadn’t remained unbroken any longer.
A substitution followed as Murikhin came on to replace Dubokin, and it almost preceded a second goal. Murikhin received a bouncing ball in space on the edge of the box, but he could only strike his shot straight at the keeper.
Murikhin then wriggled through the Johvi defence with a piercing run, but his pass across goal was cut out before finding a team-mate. Sillamäe’s second substitution came in the 63rd minute, as Kvasov replaced Ratnikov, before Johvi replaced Kulikov with Ivanjusin.
More half chances came for Sillamäe, whose speed going forward continued to render some of their opportunities wasted, with a number of shots blocked or struck over the bar.
In the 68th minute, Kvasov sliced a shot wide of the post after receiving an inch-perfect pass over the Johvi defence to leave him with time and space inside the box.
Sillamae finally put the game to bed in the 74th minute as Kabaev ran free down the left and evaded the challenge of Potapov, before striking the ball over the onrushing keeper into the roof of the net.
It had been a long time coming, but a lack of real clear cut chances had limited their ability to finish the visitors off.
Kabaev had a chance for his hat-trick in the 81st minute, but saw his shot from the edge of the box fly straight at the keeper.
The match had taken on a slightly more pedestrian pace, with Johvi content to see the final minutes out, and Sillamae looking to pounce on any lapses in concentration.
Johvi’s best chance came in the 88th minute, as Naveriani collected the ball in space on the left side of the Sillamae box, but his shot was pushed away by the goalkeeper.
Kvasov saw a free header at the far post sail disappointly across goal and away from danger, as the game drew to a close.
Sillamae’s final change saw Vnukov replace Kabaev, before the referee called time on a match in which Sillamae had dominated throughout, but they should have had more goals to show for it as a number of opportunities were rushed and wasted.
Against stronger opposition they may have sharpened their game, but this effort was enough to comfortably dispatch a Johvi side who rarely troubled the hosts at any point.