- Narva fail to make the most of second half chances
- Viljandi remain joint second from bottom, Narva are 6th
- Narva remain joint lowest scorers in 2015
By Chris Johns
Narva Trans came from behind to take a point from their trip to Viljandi. The hosts took the lead right on half time through a Joonas Tamm penalty, but a Volodymyr Kilikevych strike six minutes after the restart drew the visitors level. Narva had their chances to take victory but had to settle for a point against a lively Tulevik side.
Viljandi made three changes from their 2-0 defeat to Infonet last time out. Karl-Romet Nomm replaced Martti Puolakainen between the sticks, with Siim Saar and Robert Taar coming in for Rainer Peips and Erkki Kubber.
Narva made just two changes; Dmitri Smirnov and German-Guri Lvov replacing Pavel Avdeev and Roman Protasov, with Narva only able to name four substitutes.
Neither team managed any efforts at goal in the opening five matches, with Narva spreading the ball across the pitch, trying to create spaces in the Viljandi half.
A 6th minute Kilikeycich free kick was easily saved by Nomm, as both sides tried to maintain an early high tempo.
Viljandi’s first half chance came in the 8th minute, as Sander Post’s shot on the turn was blocked in the penalty box following some pressure from the hosts. Kaarel Henn’s long range shos was then sent harmlessly wide from outside the area as Viljandi began to see more of the ball in their opponent's half.
In the 12th minute, Tamm was set free down the right-hand side by Maar and his low cross found Taar in the area, but he could only send a shot over the bar under pressure.
Another shot from outside the box, this time from Joonas Tamm, flew wide of the post as neither side could quite conjure up a clear opportunity in the opening exchanges. Viljandi were trying to attack quickly with one- and two-touch passing, with the visitors trying to break down the wings.
Smishko had to come out strongly to foil a marauding Ilves down the left, before a Marek Kaljumae free kick was easily collected by Nomm on 24 minutes.
Sander Post nodded the ball into the Narva net two minutes later, but the referee’s whistle had already gone for a foul.
A minute later, Skinjov struck a low shot at Nomm from outside the box as Narva broke away, before Tamm sprang the Narva offside trap down the left-hand side, but he couldn’t take the ball round Smishko, who questionably clattered the Viljandi attacker in clearing the ball to safety.
Narva’s first clear chance came on 30 minutes, as Vladislav Fjodorov was played in behind the Viljandi defence, but he inexplicably dragged his shot wide of the post when it looked far easier to at least test the goalkeeper from just ten yards out.
Five minutes later, Indrek Ilves snapped a shot well wide of the Narva goal from outside the box, as the two side’s attacking play was highlighted in contrast.
The visitors were creating few chances, but when they came they were of better quality than their host's. Viljandi were going forward with greater frequency, particularly through the lively Ilves and Tamm, but their quality was letting them down at key moments.
On 36 minutes, Smirnov appeared to wrestle Tamm to the floor just inside the penalty area, but the referee waved Viljandi’s protests away. Post was then booked for arguing as the hosts clearly felt aggrieved by the denial of what looked to be a good penalty shout.
Kaljumae’s 40th minute strike from outside the box was saved low down again by Nomm, before Viljandi’s penalty claims were answered when they were given the perfect chance to open the scoring in the final minute of the first half.
Ilves appeared to be tripped by Jahhimovits on the left side of the box as he wormed away from goal, and it was Tamm who stepped up to strike the spot kick in to the bottom right corner of the goal, sending Smishko the wrong way.
Aside from Fjodorov’s close range miss, it was the only real clean strike at goal in what had been a competitive but cagey opening 45 minutes.
There were no changes at the break, but Karl Ivar Maar had to be treated off the pitch within two minutes of the restart after sustaining a leg injury. He was, however, able to continue and rejoined the action a few minutes later.
Aleksei Jahhimovits smashed over following a corner from the right on 50 minutes, before Maar’s return to the pitch was ended as his injury got the better of him.
Before Viljandi could bring on a replacement, however, Narva drew level. A ball over the host’s defence bounced welcomely in front of Kilikevych, who kept his cool to slot past Nomm and bring the visitors back on level terms. It was only their second clear cut chance of the game, but Kilikevych finished better than Fjodorov had with his first-half attempt.
Tulevik replaced Maar at the kick off with Roger Teor completing their line-up once more.
Narva were starting to get in to their stride and their passing had picked up compared to how it had deteriorated in the first half. Their ability to find runners in behind their opponent’s defence was looking particularly threatening, with both their chances coming via this route.
Ilves went in to the book on 57 minutes for Tulevik for a foul on Tanel Tamberg on the right, giving Narva the chance to whip a dangerous ball in to the Viljandi box that no blue shirt could manage to connect with.
Post then saw his header go disappointingly wide of the post following a similar free kick situation in the opposite half on the hour mark.
Zils found himself played in on the right side of the Viljandi box two minutes later, but he was crowded out by a group of yellow shirts for a corner.
Another good chance fell Narva’s way a minute later, but Nomm saved well with his foot after a good drag back from the left found Kaljumae in the centre.
Narva were in the ascendency now, and they looked the more likely team to make something happen. Viljandi’s attacking threat had faded a little, and they introduced Mutle for Taar on 64 to try and shake things up.
Skinjov struck wide on the turn on 68 minutes after Tamberg had intimated that he felt an elbow to the face from Ilves. The referee showed no interest and allowed play to continue.
Half chances continued to come for Narva as their movement remained markedly better after a fairly languid first half showing. They made their first change on 70 minutes with Smirnov making way for Andre Jogi.
There was a heart-stopping moment on 76 minutes for Narva as Tamm managed to break away and charge towards goal. Fjodorov was on his toes though and managed to chase back and neutralise the threat, winning himself a free kick in the process.
Fjodorov then went in to the referee’s book before Zils broke into the box on the right side, forcing a good stop from Nomm high up to his left.
Jahhimovits went in to the referee’s book for a wrestling-style challenge as Viljandi tried to break, before a spell of good pressure from the hosts almost saw them retake the lead.
A high ball from the right by-line was headed down by Tamm, and it took a great save from Smishko to deny the hosts what would have been a surprising goal considering the run of play in the second half until that point. They then had a couple of shots blocked before play went back up the other end.
Jogi’s shot was blocked out on the left after being played in well as the game started to open up in the shadow of the full time whistle.
Five minutes from time, Tamberg was bundled over on the right-wing and Kaljumae’s free kick eventually found Jogi on the edge of the box, but his curling shot was just too high.
Viljandi were again presented with a chance to retake the lead two minutes from time, with Post being played in down the right as Viljandi outnumbered Narva on the break. However, the big striker could only smash his shot straight at Smishko, and he failed to make the most of the rebound as Narva breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
A few scrambles in the host’s penalty box followed as the game’s tempo reached its peak, before Tamm was presented with the first of three good injury time chances.
A lovely cross from the right found the Viljandi striker’s head, but he could only put the ball straight in to the arms of Smishko from point blank range.
At the other end, Kilikeyvich’s scuffed shot from the right found its way past the keeper, and Fjodorov came sliding in at the far post with the seemingly easy task of slotting home. It was not to be Narva’s day, however, as the substitute failed to even make contact with the ball, watching it trickle agonisingly wide of the post.
Ilves had the final chance of the game, as he wriggled free of a number of defenders before seeing his shot blocked again by Smishko.
The last action of the match was a yellow card for Jogi, as the referee brought an entertaining second half to a close.
Narva will be disappointed that their improved second half performance didn't earn them three points, but their inability to take their chances put paid to their hopes. Viljandi’s endeavour and effort earned them a deserved point, but on another day a better team wouldn’t have been so forgiving.
RdS Man of the Match: Indrek Ilves (Vil)