Nesterovski Dismissed as Kalev Stem the Narva Tide
A Lasha Omanidze-inspired Tallinna Kalev side came from behind to secure only their third win of the season, capitalising on Roman Nesterovski’s red card to dispatch Narva Trans 3-1 at Kalevi Keskstaadion.
The hosts took the lead in the 14th minute through Viktor Plotnikov, but Nesterovski was shown a 34th minute red card for being the last man when bringing down a breaking Hans-Kristjan Hansberg, who was stretchered off and taken to hospital as a result
Omanidze smashed home the resulting free kick, before adding a superb second shortly after half time. Innar Paal wrapped up the points with the final kick of the match as Kalev closed the gap on their opponents at the bottom of the table.
Both sides began deploying similar 4-1-4-1 formations, turning into 4-1-2-3 in attack. Kalev started with Omanidze, RdS' danger man in our preview, as the central attacker, with Hansberg and Raiko Karpov providing the wide support from left to right respectively.
Sean Whalen and Aleksei Belov sat in front of defensive midfielder Ionel Armean, with no changes to the defensive line-up that started against Levadia.
Narva’s attack was spearheaded by Vadim Mihhailov, with Artjom Skinjov providing support from the left, and German-Guri Lvov from the right. Siim Tenno and Viktor Plotnikov sat in front of Andrejs Sinicins, whose flexibility showed once more here.
Both sides set a good early pace without troubling the opposing keeper. The first chance came in the 8th minute as Skinjov connected with an Avdeev cross from the right, but he could only hook it harmlessly over the bar.
Narva were passing the ball about fairly well up to the edge of the box, but their tendency to try and lift it over the Kalev defence saw them make limited progress. A couple of uncertain moments for Savitski in the Kalev goal weren’t enough to provide the hosts with any clear chances to reward their early pressing.
Kalev’s main threat came from the right-hand side on the break, Karpov playing in the lively Omanidze, but a lack of support in the box saw his cross wasted.
Narva began to find a little joy on the wings, and 14 minutes into the match Vitali Andrejev cut onto his right foot on the left and sent a ball into Plotnikov on the edge of the box. His neat control allowed him space enough to strike a left-footed shot beyond Savitski and into the back of the net.
Narva had had the greater share of possession, and it was their first real sight at goal that saw them make the breakthrough. It was an early blow for the hosts, who desperately needed to avoid defeat to stop Narva increasing the gap above the relegation zone.
Kalev slowly got back into the game; Omanidze’s persistent running seemed to be their focal point, and he was beginning to cause the visitors some problems. It was Narva, however, who continued to create the better openings.
After a couple of half chances, the increasingly imposing Siim Tenno sent a through ball forward for Lvov running in behind the defence on the right-hand side, but the onrushing goalkeeper was equal to his shot as he bore down on goal.
Kalev were starting to find pockets of space on the wings, but a lack of support in the centre saw a number of promising positions wasted. Narva continued to see more of the ball, with Tenno and Plotnikov controlling the game, as another chance came their way; Skinjov took the ball down on his chest on the left edge of the box, before striking a half volley wide of the near post.
Just as Narva looked to be taking a firm hold on the game, the contest was turned on its head. Andreev’s surge down the right saw him deliver a cross that eventually deflected off Skinjov towards goal, but lacked any sort of power as the goalkeeper collected it with ease.
The resulting break for Kalev caught Andreev out of position, and as Nesterovksi failed to deal with the bouncing ball he clipped the surging Hansberg, who was racing through on goal, and brought the Kalev attacker crashing to the floor.
The referee had no choice but to dismiss the Narva defender, and award the hosts a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box. After a few minutes delay for the physio and stretcher to play their parts in the match, Omanidze stepped up to rifle the free kick into the back of the net, adding a sprinkling of salt to the freshly opened Narva wound.
The visitors had been in control of the match until that point, but Omanidze looked in the mood to re-write the script. The dismissal of Nesterovski had seen Narva temporarily operate with just three across the back, before Sinicins dropped back into the defence, leaving them with a 2-man midfield.
If Narva were aggrieved by the previous few minute’s action, they were further dismayed when Lvov charged forward, only to be bundled over by Whalen and awarded nothing by the referee.
Omanidze was making the most of the reduced Narva defence, finding plenty of space on the right-hand side, but Kalev’s reluctance to push any more players forward to support the attack was stunting their threat.
As the first half drew to a close, an ambulance arrived to transport the stricken Hansberg from the stadium to undergo a check on the extent of his injury, which had seen him remain firmly atop the stretcher since his departure from the pitch.
The half time break saw Kalev alter their attack. Aru and Whalen formed a central midfield partnership, with Armean moving up to play just behind Belov, who was now operating as the lone striker. Omanidze shifted across to the right, with Karpov on the left.
The change gave Kalev better shape in attack, and the tinkering almost worked straight away, as Omanidze played in Belov, but he couldn’t control the ball well enough and his shot was blocked.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Narva looked keen to retain their attacking threat, and Mihhailov had a golden chance to restore his side’s lead early in the second half as he raced through to put himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. His composure deserted him, however, and his poor flicked shot was easily blocked by the onrushing Savitski.
This was to prove costly, as Kalev broke at the other end of the pitch and Omanidze bagged his second of the game, brilliantly lobbing Lepmets from the right-hand side of the box after being played in behind the Narva defence.
Things had gone from bad to worse for Narva, and Kalev had taken full advantage of their plight.
The visitors were then left frustrated once more, as Lvov was penalised for a hard, but fair-looking challenge.
A slight injury to Whalen saw him replaced by Ando Hausenberg 12 minutes into the second period, as Kalev were being allowed to knock the ball around a little easier as a result of their man advantage. Narva’s attack was starting to break down on the edge of the box as it had done at the beginning of the first half, and they were struggling for chances.
Siim Tenno was beginning to join the attack more frequently, and his industry was helping to carry the ball forward, as well as winning it back when out of possession.
Lepmets was called into action to stop an Edgars Butlers free kick from creeping under the bar, following a hefty challenge on Plotnikov from Egert Heintare.
Kalev then had an excellent chance to extend their lead. The perennially troublesome Omanidze sent in a cross from the right, which found Karpov lurking unmarked near the far post, and with the majority of the goal to aim at. His low, scuffed shot rolled threateningly towards the corner of the goal, only for Lepmets to fling himself at it and push the ball just round the post.
It was a let-off for Narva, and had they conceded a third at that point, they would surely have been out of the contest.
Lissitson replaced Savenkov in the 69th minute, with the former slotting in at right back, and Avdeev moving into the centre back position.
Narva’s inability to get further than the edge of the box before losing their cool continued to thwart them, but Skinjov was extremely unlucky when hit right-footed shot from the left caught Savitski napping. He could only watch in dismay as the ball struck the inside of the box and was cleared to safety.
At the other end, Aru’s swept shot from Omanidze’s delivery went straight into the hands of the keeper, before Belov’s charge down the left saw him deliver a pass into the middle that was just too far in front of Omanidze.
Plotnikov dragged a shot wide of the post for Narva, as their control of the ball continued to earn them some reasonable sights on goal, with the majority being from the edge of the box.
Kalev replaced Armean with Innar Paal with seven minutes to go, as they finished the match firmly on top.
A long ball from Omanidze was nodded forward by Belov, but again his shot was thwarted by Lepmets. An even better chance came for him minutes later, as Karpov’s header released him down the left-hand side, but as he bore down on goal and created a fantastic shooting position for himself, his indecision got the better of him and his eventual shot was struck straight at Lepmets.
As the four minutes of injury time looked to be drawing to a close, Kalev added some emphasis to the result with the help of Lepmets.
Karpov again flicked on a long ball, and substitute Paal latched on to it just before the by-line, before striking an impossible looking shot towards goal. The angle was firmly against him, but Lepmets was generous enough to spill the ball over the line to give Kalev the win.
The referee called time on the game immediately after the Kalev celebrations began, and their third win of the season was secured.
Kalev move above Tammeka into 8th place, and are now just three points behind Narva. The win was imperative in preventing their opponents putting further daylight between themselves and the relegation scrap, but these are now very worrying times for Narva.
What had previously looked like a fairly settled-looking drop zone now appears to have reeled Narva and Paide in to the mix, following the latter’s defeat to Kalju this afternoon. Could this give some much-needed impetus to Kalev and Tammeka in their battle to beat the drop?