- Kalju debut at Hiiu with a safe win and a couple of returning players on the scoresheet
- Ats Purje is immediately effective with three assists
- Tammeka showed good attitude but a lack of effectiveness in the finishing part
Nõmme Kalju took advantage of Levadia’s Matchday 1 draw with Infonet as they comfortably beat Tammeka Tartu 3-0.
The Pink Panthers returned home to Hiiu Staadion, and goals from the returning Vladimir Voskoboinikov and Allan Kimbaloula, and a late strike from stalwart Tarmo Neemelo sealed the points.
However, for all of the beautiful and iconic buildings in Tallinn’s city centre, it was Estonian international, and ex-Levadia winger, Ats Purje who was the capital’s most prolific architect this afternoon, as he provided the assists for all three of his side’s goals.
Kalju lined up in a familiar-looking formation, as new boss Sergei Terehhov felt little need to change his side’s setup following the departure of Igor Prins. Vladimir Voskoboinikov spearheaded the 4-2-3-1, with Ats Purje and Allan Kimbaloula flanking him on the left and right side respectively. Wakui took up his familiar trequartista role, with Artjom Dmitrijev and Eino Puri starting as the defensive midfielders.
An interesting defensive decision saw Ken Kallaste start as centre back alongside Jorge Rodrigues, with Nicolas Galpin lining up at left back. Alo Barengrub had to be content with a place on the bench, with Henrik Pürg completing the outfield line-up at right back.
Tammeka were more defensively-minded in ther starting line-up, with Kristjan Tiirik at the head of a 4-1-4-1 formation. Rasmus Tauts provided support from the left of midfield, with Heiko Tamm on the right. Martin Miller provided an attack-minded midfield presence alongside Martin Jõgi, with Tauno Tekko providing cover in front of the defence. Tammeka’s defence from left to right was comprised of Martin Naggel, Kaarel Kildron, Martin Hurt and Andre Paju, with Karli Kütt between the sticks.
Kalju started the match with the greater amount of possession, knocking the ball around in their own half to assert early control. Dmitrijev’s cross was cut out for a first-minute corner, whilst at the other end Tiirik couldn’t quite find Paju with a through ball.
In the 8th minute, Dmitrijev had a goal disallowed for offside as Kalju’s possession struggled to evolve into clear chances. Tammeka were pressing them up-field early on, but Kalju slowly began to push back and move play further forward.
Tammeka’s Tamm couldn’t get his shot away after a good turn following Tiirik’s pass, as their central approach contrasted Kalju’s wing-play.
Tiirik threatened himself from a free kick, which flew just wide of Teleš’ right post in the 15th minute, before Purje’s first real involvement saw him cut in from the left side and his deflected shot fell easily to the goalkeeper.
Purje was beginning to find some space down the left, whilst Allan was evading his markers on the right. Tauts, Miller and Tiirik were trying to link down the middle for Tammeka as their pressing game continued to limit Kalju’s attack.
The first real chance of the first half came in the 21st minute, as Dmitrijev’s cross from out on the left was met by Wakui in the centre, but his looping header dropped on to the base of far post and out to safety.
This seemed to be something of a catalyst for the hosts as they began to assert their dominance. Voskoboinikov was caught offside a couple of times, and Purje was causing problems for Tammeka on the left wing, and it was the aforementioned two players who combined to open the scoring on 26 minutes.
A lovely dink over the defence by Wakui found Purje inside the box on the left, and he timed his half-volley cross to perfection, playing the ball across the goalkeeper for Voskoboinikov to tap home. Tammeka will have been disappointed by conceding having done fairly well up until that point, but Kalju had the bit between their teeth and looked to tighten their grip on the match.
Kalju’s faithful were in full voice now and their traditional pink flares began to fill the pitch with smoke. Dmitrijev was beginning to assist Purje on the left side of midfield, with Galpin also giving Paju plenty of work to do with his overlapping.
Tammeka were now struggling to create anything, with Kalju keeping hold of the ball for longer spells. The visitors quick attacking play was breaking down, with Jõgi failing to connect with Tamm’s flick.
Purje then had a chance to double the scoreline but his shot was blocked after being found in space by Voskoboinikov. Purje then swapped flanks with Allan, who had seen little of the ball during Kalju’s left-side focused spell of play.
Purje was again involved as he broke away from Naggel on the right, and his cross was poorly dealt with by Tekko, but Puri couldn’t hit the target as his shot from 15 yards under little pressure cleared the crossbar.
Allan reintroduced himself to the game as he skipped by Hurt on the left before seeing his low cross deflected out by Kutt in the Tammeka goal.
As the first half drew to a close, Tammeka managed to wrest a little control from the hosts, as they managed to apply a little pressure. Tiirik’s sweeping shot from the right edge of the box drifted just wide of Teleš’ far post, before his free kick from the edge of the box after Wakui’s foul appeared to strike Tekko in the wall on its way over the bar.
Kalju managed to weather the mini-storm until the referee’s whistle brought the first 45 minutes to a close.
The break appeared to slow the pace of the game down a little, with Purje’s shot in the 48th minute drifting so far wide it went for a Tammeka throw.
The first booking of the game went to Puri for a challenge on Tauts, before Voskoboinikov was caught offside once more after running clear of the Tammeka defensive line.
The first sight of Ken Kallaste as an attacking threat came after 56 minutes as his overlap down the left won his side a corner.
Tammeka appeared to slow their attacking play down a little, and it was winning them more space in Kalju’s half, but their final ball was wasteful and continued to deny them any clear chances at goal. While the match stayed at 1-0 they will have felt that they were still in with a shout, but a lovely break from Kalju in the 62nd minute effectively put paid to their chances of any points.
Purje charged forward down the middle of the pitch, before laying the ball left to Allan. The returning winger opened his body up and hit a delightful first-time curling shot with his right foot beyond Kütt and into the far corner of the net. It was a sensational way to announce his return to first team action after a long lay-off last season, and was just what Kalju needed as the second half threatened to turn into a cagey affair.
A small delay in the match followed as Puri took a knock to his right thigh, and as play resumed Tiirik reacted to Wakui’s pressure with a push to the chest of the Japanese playmaker.
Tammeka’s best chance of the second half until that point came with 22 minutes to go, as Tamm’s 25-yard effort fizzed just wide of Teleš’ right post.
Puri was down on the floor minutes later, as his afternoon was ended by his injury. Soren Kaldma replaced him for his Premium Liiga debut, with debutant Ergo Eessaar replacing Paju for Tammeka in what was an attacking change for the hosts.
Tammeka’s more compact play started to come back to them, as they moved the ball around more neatly in and around the Kalju half.
It was Kalju who had the best chance to get the match’s third goal, but Voskoboinikov will be disappointed with his header, which was scuffed over after Allan had found him with a right-wing cross. Allan was then replaced by another Premium Liiga debutant in Erik Listmann.
Purje was presented with a fantastic chance to make it 3-0, as Dmitrijev’s through ball sent him clear of the Tammeka defence and left him 1-1 with the goalkeeper. Purje’s composure deserted him, however, and after managing to drag the ball away from Kutt on the edge of the box, his shot was blocked by the retreating Kildron.
More substitutions followed, with Neemelo replacing Voskoboinikov, and Valeri Sabanov and Tristan Koskor coming on for Miller and Tamm for the visitors.
The changes turned the game into something of a scrappy affair once more, with play yoyo-ing back and forth in midfield.
Rodrigues was booked for a foul on Tiirik, with the resulting free kick headed well wide by Jõgi on the stretch. Kalju’s defence were just about dealing with Tammeka’s good passing play, but chances remained at a premium for the Tartu outfit, and it was Kalju who put the game to bed late on.
Purje’s continued inside forward role saw him cut in from the left before playing Neemelo in on the right of the box. The veteran striker kept his cool and slotted the ball in off Kütt’s right post to secure the points.
Kalju’s persistence saw them finish the match with a scoreline they will be happy with. Tammeka didn’t offer too many chances, but their positive play should see them fare well against the teams around them.
The hosts will be tested more than they were today in games against the bigger sides, but as first games go Terehhov will be very happy with the result, and particularly with the performances of Purje and Allan as inside forwards.
RdS Man of the Match: Ats Purje (Nõmme Kalju)