FC Infonet secured a comfortable 3-0 victory over Tammeka Tartu, despite having goalkeeper Matvei Igonen sent off midway through the first half.
Both teams lined up in traditional 4-4-2 formations; Infonet starting with Aidara and Manucho up front, flanked by Haarin on the left and Lipin on the right. Tammeka began with Valtna partnered up front by Tiirik, who often dropped back to offer support to the midfield pairing of Martõnov and Gurtšioglujants. Peedo and Tauts provided support from the wings.
Infonet controlled possession from the off; it took them only four minutes to get their noses in front. Nahk sent a low ball through the centre to Manucho, who swivelled adeptly to allow the ball to break behind the defence. Tammeka keeper Kütt rushed out and blocked the ball, which fell to Lipin to right hand side of the goal, and he slotted it cooly into the back of the net.
The goal suggested a sign of things to come for the home side, but for all of their possession in the early stages, any further chances managed to evade them.
In the 15th minute, some good work by Manucho on the left hand side allowed him to pull the ball back for Aidara, who sliced high and wide from the edge of the box. Lipin and Harin switched flanks to try and shake things up, but the game was seemingly turned on its head in the 25th minute.
Up until that point, Tammeka’s main strategy had been to try and hit Infonet on the break, which had so far been unsuccessful, but when Tauts found himself in behind the Infonet defence he was met by the onrushing Igonen, whose attempt at a tackle only succeeded in bringing down the breaking striker outside of the penalty area. The referee had no hesitation in showing the red card, and Infonet’s total control of the game suddenly looked under threat.
Substitute goalkeeper Kassjantšuk was brought on for Aidara after a delay getting himself ready, as Infonet were forced to switch to a more cautious 4-4-1 setup.
Surprisingly, it was Infonet who had the game’s next chance. Elhi broke down the right hand side, but his shot from out wide sailed wide of the far post.
A minute later, Tammeka managed their first real effort of the game; Tekko picking the ball up on the edge of the box after the ball had been scrambled away, but his shot flew harmlessly wide of the post.
Since the dismissal, the roles had been reversed. Tammeka were keeping the ball better with Infonet sitting comfortably behind it, breaking with reasonable threat when possible.
Tammeka’s best chance came in the 40th minute, when a cross from the right by Paju found Tiirik unmarked at the far post, but his header was diverted disappointingly wide of the far post.
Infonet’s wingers swapped sides once again, and they were finding it difficult to make any headway, rarely managing to beat their man, as Tammeka looked to sure up their defence in light of their numerical advantage.
As the match had swung Tammeka’s way following Infonet’s early opener, the hands of fate forced it back again as the hosts doubled their lead on the stroke of half time. Manucho was wrestled down on the edge of the penalty area and he dusted himself down before stroking the free kick beautifully past Kütt to end the half as it began, with Infonet on top.
The half time break saw Infonet make a change, with Golovljov replacing Harin on the left wing as they looked to use their time to regroup a little further.
Neither side started the second half carrying any real threat and Tammeka’s first attempt to shake things up was via a substitution; Naal coming on for Peedo in the 61st minute.
Naal himself had the second half’s first real chance after 71 minutes, but he dragged his ambitious shot wide of the post from the far right.
Further substitutions saw Infonet’s Martõnov replace Kouadio and Tammeka’s Ivanov and Suurpere replace Valtna and Tauts respectively as the game descended into a scrappy midfield battle, certainly not one for the purists.
The half’s biggest talking point came seven minutes from time, when Infonet’s substitute goalkeeper, who had looked less than assured since coming on, appeared to bundle Tiirik as he turned on the ball in the box. The Tammeka striker’s appeal for a penalty was ignored by the referee and, having already had one goalkeeper dismissed, Infonet were fortunate that the referee saw nothing in the incident.
As the match appeared to be trundling to an incident-free close, Infonet substitute Golovljov latched on to a through ball from Martõnov, before slotting home to make it 3-0, further compounding Tammeka’s frustration.
In what had been a match devoid of anything beyond the goals and the red card, Infonet had never looked under any threat, as Tammeka had found chances very hard to come by.
Very little service had been provided to the Tammeka front line, and Infonet had taken their chances when they came, which proved to be the game’s deciding factor.
It is difficult to draw much from the home side’s play as they were forced to regroup so early in the game, but the fact that they dealt with their opponent’s threat without breaking much of a sweat showed more about Tammeka’s plight than the host’s credentials.
Infonet will be given a much sterner challenge when they travel to Sillamäe next weekend, as Tammeka also face tougher opposition in the form of early leaders Flora, as they continue their current state of exile.
Moviola cases of this game were analysed here