FC Infonet were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with Paide, following a performance full of energy and purpose that lacked any sort of real quality. They fell behind to a 13th minute header from Karl Palatu, but a spirited second half performance saw Eduard Golovljov grab a deserved equaliser 17 minutes from time.
Infonet lined up with a 4-3-3 system; Manucho and Nikita Martõnov returned to the attack, starting on the left and right side of Aidara, respectively. Infonet’s only other change to the side that lost 3-1 to Sillamae, was between the posts as Matvei Igonen replaced Ilja Kassjantšuk.
Paide’s 6-0 humbling at the hands of Nõmme Kalju saw them react by making five changes to the starting line-up; Mart-Mattis Niinepuu, Dmitri Kovtunovitš, Kaspar Paur, Jasper Chibueze Uwaegbulam and Eerik Reinsoo all missed out; the latter due to suspension following his red card in the Kalju game. In their place came Siim-Sten Palm, Timo Lomp, Karl Palatu, Markus Holst and Sander Rõivassepp, as they looked to bounce back with a positive result.
The match began in a cagey fashion, with neither team managing to carve the other open. Paide seemed content to let Infonet knock the ball about, whilst pressing them further upfield. It took ten minutes before the first sight of goal, as Infonet’s Trevor Elhi cut inside from the left, however his long-range effort sailed harmlessly high and wide.
Paide looked ready to counter when given the chance, but their first meaningful attack, and with it the game's first goal, came from a set piece.
Elhi was wrestled to the floor by Martõnov on the right hand side; the resulting free kick whipped dangerously to the far post by Stanislav Goldberg. Karl Palatu found himself completely unmarked and, with enough time to have played a solo game of keepy-uppy, he stooped to direct a header across the goal, beyond the keeper, and into the back of the net.
Infonet tried to respond but looked a little rushed in possession; their attacking three were struggling to link up. Konstantin Nahk remained calm-headed in the middle of the park, however, spraying the ball around neatly to try and settle his team.
Paide reverted back to their counter attacking game as Infonet looked susceptible to deep balls played in to their back post. Infonet’s own long ball approach was failing them as they surrendered possession on a number of occasions and struggled to create any meaningful chances.
A couple of harmless long range shots and countless poor passes summed up a disappointing first half for the hosts, who would have had no complaints at their predicament.
The half time break saw them reshuffle, with Manucho moving further left to the wing and Maksim Lipin pushing forward to the right wing, in what had become a more conventional 4-4-2 formation. The change seemed to work, as Infonet looked more balanced and organised than in the first half.
A nasty-looking incident in the 51st minute saw Paide’s Joel Indermitte chase a ball bouncing towards Infonet keeper Matvei Igonen. Both players went up to challenge, with a clash of heads the result. Igonen came off the worst but was able to shake himself down and continue.
Infonet’s impatience began to set in again as they reverted to sending long balls over the top of the Paide defence, to no avail. Aidara had a half-chance ten minutes into the second half as he took the ball down on his chest and shot on the turn, but his strike was always heading wide of the post.
The hosts made their first substitution three minutes later, with Evgeni Harin replacing Martõnov. Six minutes later Edgar Tur came on to replace Lipin as Infonet tried to inject some much-needed spark into the game.
The substitutions seemed to help as they began to put sustained pressure on the Paide back line. Quality was still generally lacking in their play but much of the game was being played in the Paide half, and it seemed that the one clear opportunity they had yet to muster was creeping up over the horizon.
Further substitutions saw Paide replace Indermitte and Rõivassepp with Marten Mütt and Andrei Veis, with Infonet replacing Aidara with Eduard Golovljov, and it was the latter who proved to be the decisive introduction.
In the 74th minute, Golovljov picked the ball up on the edge of the box and shaped his body to shoot. His dummy brought the ball on to his left foot and employed two more feigned attempts at a shot before lashing the ball across goal and into the net, beyond the keeper’s outstretched left hand.
The goal had been coming, despite a lack of any clear cut chances, and Infonet's second half pressure had paid off. Paide had offered very little in terms of chances themselves but remained determined to offer an attacking threat, refusing to stack men behind the ball.
In the 82nd minute, Goldberg was brought down just outside the box on the left by-line in a dangerous position. The free kick was drilled in to the near post, but Igonen was equal to a deft flick and kept hold of the ball. Paide’s Palatu mistimed his attempt at meeting the free kick, however, and his sliding challenge carried him straight into Igonen’s torso, earning the Paide goal-scorer a yellow card after the resulting melee had been disbanded.
A handful of corners and half-chances followed for Infonet as they found some space down the left hand side, but it was Paide who had the final opportunity. Veis expertly beat the offside trap to race onto a ball through the Infonet defence. With players in support to his left, Veis attempted to lob the onrushing Igonen, but saw his shot sail embarrassingly wide of the post, much to the frustration of his open team mates.
The final whistle brought to a close a match which lacked any real quality beyond the two goals, and the final score was probably a fair reflection of this. Infonet will likely feel they could have won the game had they been more clinical on the ball. The basic aim of ‘scoring more goals than your opponent’ evaded them, and by that logic they were only deserving of the point they got.
Paide will have been happier with the point, having been on the back foot for a fair portion of the match, but they might also have been concerned with their own deficiencies in the creativity department.