- Infonet hit three without reply
- Narva’s charge halted by Lipin dismissal
- Kilikevych scores wonderful own goal
By Chris Johns
FC Infonet took advantage of Narva’s reduction to ten men with a 3-0 win over the border side.
Vladislav Kozlovs gave the home side the lead after 34 minutes, and after some second half pressure from Narva they were reduced to ten men after Maksim Lipin appeared to lash out at Nikolay Mashichev. A well-executed own goal by Volodymyr Kilikevych and a fine strike by Jevgeni Harin sealed the points for the hosts.
Infonet made two changes from their 2-2 draw with Levadia; Mihhail Lavrentjev replaced Matvei Igonen between the sticks and Tanel Melts came in for the suspended Kassim Aidara.
Narva made just one change from their 4-2 win over Tammeka, with Maksim Lipin replacing the suspended Dmitrii Barkov.
Infonet started much the brighter side, keeping pressure on the Narva back line whilst ensuring their opponents struggled to leave their own half with the ball.
On 2 minutes, Ermal Hajdari but in from the right before seeing his left-footed shot blocked. Infonet were making good use of the wings and almost got their noses in front on 6 minutes.
Aleksandr Volodin’s early cross from the right caused panic in the Narva box, resulting in a three-way collision between goalkeeper Aleksei Matrossov, Marek Kaljumae, and Infonet’s Jevgeni Harin. The ball found its way to Trevor Elhi on the left side of the box, and after managing to get the ball under his control he could only find the retreating Matrossov with his effort on goal.
All three stricken players eventually recovered, despite the penalty box looking like the result of a Hidetoshi Wakui bowling celebration.
Infonet’s next chance came in the 11th minute, but Harin’s shot from the edge of the box was scuffed harmlessly wide after being played in by Vladislav Kozlovs.
Narva’s first foray forward was a short-lived one, as Artjom Skinjov found himself with the ball on the left wing before playing it across goal with the outside of his right boot. Lavrentjev was quickly out to collect the ball, however, with the onrushing Volodymyr Kilikevych unable to meet it in time.
The hosts continued to control proceedings as the first half unfolded, looking to get in behind Narva’s full backs and controlling the tempo when on the ball. Narva were trying to get forward quickly when they could, but they were struggling to break a high-pressing Infonet down.
Mashichev broke away from Tamberg on the left wing, but his cross could only be headed straight at Matrossov by Hajdari before the referee blew for a foul for climbing.
Infonet were starting to get in good positions in the Narva box, with Mashichev, Hajdari and Harin moving around intelligently.
In the 23rd minute, Vitalijs Zils felt aggrieved after what he felt was too strong a tackle by Elhi. The referee left him to protest on his own on the floor and play continued.
Four minutes later, Svjatoslav Jakovlev got away from Elhi on the right wing to put a cross into the Infonet box, which Skinjov could only flick on to on-one when well placed in the centre.
Both sides were moving forward positively now, but their attacks were starting to break down around the edge of box. Infonet remained the most likely-looking team to score, but premium chances were a little sparse.
In the 31st minute, Lavrentjev had to be alert to keep out a deep Lipin free kick from way back on the left that was set to drop in to the top corner before the keeper did his duty.
Moments later, Roman Nesterovski headed over Lipin’s corner from the right as Narva were beginning to balance the game out a little more.
Elhi tried to play the ball across the back to Andrei Kalimullin, but Skinjov was alert to the situation and he dispossessed the Infonet defender before turning on to his right foot to strike a low shot that Lavrentjev got down well to save. It was a let-off for the hosts and a missed opportunity that Skinjov would live to regret moments later.
With just over 33 minutes on the clock Infonet drew the first blood. Mashichev worked the ball to Aleksandr Dmitrijev on the left edge of the box, and his attempted through ball was nudged in to the path of Harin by Lipin. The Infonet attacker floated a lovely cross in to the box from close to the right by-line inside, with Kozlovs drawing away from Avdeev to sweep the ball back in to the keeper’s bottom corner on the half volley.
It was a good, quick move by the hosts at a time when the match was starting to take on a cagey edge. The goal saw a slight drop in tempo from both sides, with Narva trying to move the ball forward with short passes against an Infonet side prepared to soak up pressure and launch counter attacks.
Lipin’s long range effort six minutes from the break failed to threaten Lavrentjev, before Narva made a tactical change on 41 minutes, replacing Jakovlev with Andre Jogi to go to a more conventional 4-4-2 in what was the last action of the first half.
Neither side made personnel changes at the break and the second half kicked off with both sides failing to trouble the opposition goal early on. Narva’s attacks seemed to lack the support and positional flexibility of Infonet’s in the first half, and they frequently found themselves losing possession on the edge of the Infonet box.
Infonet seemed fairly content to soak up any Narva pressure before launching counter attacks to exploit any gaps, though a good move in the 50th minute saw Zils let Lipin loose down the left wing, but after taking the ball into the box his scuffed effort went harmlessly wide under the pressure of Vladimir Avilov.
Melts became the first man in the referee’s book after a clumsy tackle on Jogi just inside the Infonet half. Kaljumae’s 40-yard effort two minutes later went way wide of the goal as the game continued to lack clear chances.
Narva were beginning to find some space going forward though, and they were keeping the ball a little better than their hosts.
In the 58th minute, Hajdari collected the ball in space on the right wing before playing Harin in towards the by-line, but his low ball into the box couldn’t quite find Kozlovs lurking in the centre as Matrossov gratefully got his hands to the ball first.
Infonet made their first change on the hour mark as Ermal Hajdari was replaced by Sergey Tumasyan before Narva had a quick trio of chances on the Infonet goal.
Zils found Tamberg in space down the right side and his low ball in to the box was deflected towards Lavrentjev by Melts, causing confusion on the 6-yard box. Skinjov tried to pounce on the ball, forcing Lavrentjev scramble it clear as far as Tamberg on the edge of the area, and his first time curling shot looked to be dropping over the keeper’s head only for the Infonet stopper to claw it away to his right. The ball then fell in to the path of Lipin, whose acrobatic scissor kick was blocked well by Volodin and cleared to safety as Infonet breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Tanel Tamberg received a booking on 63 minutes for a blatant shirt pull on a breaking Harin before Skinjov could only divert the ball harmlessly over the bar after a good ball in from the left moments later.
The game took a dramatic twist on 67 minutes as Narva’s best chance of the game immediately preceded them being reduced to ten men.
Nesterovski got in behind Trevor Elhi down the right side and his excellent cross found Skinjov unmarked in the centre. His header was firmly planted at Lavrentjev, who could only parry the ball downwards before being cleared off the line. Narva’s players were up in arms claiming the ball had gone over the line but the referee was not to be convinced.
He was called almost instantly back into action when Lipin, trying to recover possession on the left wing, appeared to swing his hand at Mashichev as he broke away. The Infonet attacker went down in a heap on the floor and the referee showed no hesitation in reaching for his pocket.
The reason for the dismissal wasn’t immediately clear, but replays showed that the Narva winger appeared to move his arm towards the head of Mashichev, who had just dispossessed him in a way that didn’t appear to have any reason to anger Lipin.
Narva’s mini-revival in the second half appeared to have taken a severe blow with their reduction to ten men and it indeed proved the catalyst for Infonet putting the game to bed.
Elhi was replaced by Aleksandr Kulinits a minute after Lipin’s dismissal, before Tamberg appeared to be in some discomfort after a collision with Harin in the Narva half.
Nesterov’s curling shot from outside the box when well-placed went just the wrong side of Lavrentjev’s left post in the 73rd minute, before Infonet went 2-0 up when Kilikevych was unfortunate enough to show how it should be done by converting the ball in to his own net a minute later.
Mashihev broke free down the right side and his pull back found the toe of Kilikevych, who expertly prodded the ball in to the far top corner. It was both comical and unlucky for a plucky Narva side who had been improving in the second half until the dismissal of Lipin.
Infonet’s tempo had dropped since going in front, but their numerical advantage was effectively double with the assistance of Kilikevych in this instance and they were not to be caught.
Melts’ ball over the Narva defence in the 76th minute found Kozlovs running in, but hit shot could only find the onrushing Matrossov.
Deniss Malov replaced Melts with 13 minutes to go, before Harin wasted the chance to make it 3-0 moments later as he failed to adequately connect with Malov’s left-wing cross on the edge of the six yard box.
Vlasiy Sinyavskiy replaced Skinjov on 80 minutes, before Dmitrijev and Tumasyan combined well to lift the ball over the Narva defence for Kozlovs to strike at Matrassov.
Aleksei Jahhimovits replaced Nesterov 6 minutes from time before Harin’s excellent first-time shot at the far post from Malov’s ball in was ruled out for offside.
Harin then rounded Matrossov four minutes from time but his off-balance shot from an angle tricked just wide of the near post.
Harin was not to be denied a minute from time, however, as he just about beat the offside trap to meet Zils’ through ball down the right and he curled his shot in to the top corner from around 15 yards to complete the scoring.
It was harsh on Narva, who had grown in to the game prior to Lipin’s red card, but Infonet were clinical when they needed to be and took a somewhat flattering 3-0 victory.
Their early tempo failed to stick and they were lucky in the moments leading up to Lipin’s dismissal, but Narva only have themselves to blame for not taking their chances.