It’s true. It’s pre-season. Games are not worth the three points, let alone a pass to the next round if talking about international club challenges. However, under the morale’s point of view, beating the 26-time Finnish Champions (defending the title in next season) it helps building self-confidence.
Especially when your starting XI average age is 21,5 years and you’re opposing footballers with the likes of Mikael Forssell and Teemu Tainio, who spent several years in Premier League and Bundesliga.
The 1-0 win came from a nice set-piece taken by Luigend (probably the best thing he did during the hour of game he played) with the complicity of HJK goalkeeper's bad positioning at the time of shot.
However the quantity of chances created during the 90’ minutes was enough to make Hurt happy of the output beyond the final result: ‘Flora deserved the win’ declared the young coach to Delfi.ee ‘The opponent was a strong one and many of the players gave good impressions of themselves. Everyone has fulfilled their own tasks well’.
As any respectable coach, Norbert prefers to talk about the entire squad, we will simply put the spotlight on one of them who impressed the most for the tempo, the quality and precision of the play: Markus Jürgenson.
At kick-off, he was the ‘oldest’ of the lot (26-years-old) and showed great focus in controlling the right flank in his full-back role. Time ago he said he is not thinking about playing abroad. However, if he will show the same qualities throughout the season, I would not be surprised he could earn a contract abroad.
Maksim Gussev also gave good displays on the left flank. The Estonian U-21, with a positive performance at the Commonwealth Cup, suffered a bit in the defensive phase leaving Aloe alone (ops!) a few times and letting HJK having their best chances of first half on that side of the pitch.
Hurt will still have to work on the midfield pack as the 4-2-4 of the first half showed flaws. Luigend does not seem to have learned fully the new role as central right midfielder (we have counted many duels lost against the more experienced Tainio often helped by the Peiponen and Heikkinen). He went a bit better when Hurt switched to a 4-1-4-1 with the 21-years-old in front of the defence and Captain Frolov in the 4-man line acting behind Prosa. Luigend is still an offensive player, however he will have to fight a lot with Sappinen and Alliku as Hurt seems keen in switching the flankers (Alliku entered in the second half to play on the left when he has been normally fielded on the right).
Good display also by Beglarashvili. The returning Georgian talent was supposed to support more Prosa in front, however he had to drop several times into the midfield (especially in first half) to collect the ball as the back line was not supplying enough. He was very diligent in fulfilling this ‘dirty task’ and helped to outnumber Tainio&Co. several times, especially when the Finnish side ran out of gas. He obviously sacrificed the possibility of being more dangerous close to the box.
Good act also from Prosa. He should have been more surgical on few chances (the biggest was already three minutes after the kick-off whistle) however he also spent a lot in dropping to receive the ball and this cost something in terms of brilliance.
The defence worked pretty well with Mets and Baranov forming a promising couple. The latter has adapted in the role quite well already since last season. In the second half Hurt gave space to international Taavi Rähn who played the entire 45’ and rose the age level (32-years-old for the former FF Jaro defender looking for a club abroad).
The difference in workloads was quite evident as confirmed by Mikael Forssell himself in the postmatch interview. HJK is meant to last long and be prepared for the European campaign where this time Sixten Böstrom cannot fail. Unless getting more fans screaming at him as the one who had something to shout at the final whistle.
In second half Alliku brought more sharpness to the build-up and Sander Post at the centre of the attack helped as a benchmark for the work set up around him. It was one Alliku initiative that earned Flora the free-kick that gave the white-greens the lead and the win. The 4-1-4-1 worked better and Alliku was very disciplined in helping the midfield line.
HJK stayed faithful to their 4-4-2 and tried to support Forssell more. The Finnish international had a good chance on 62’ minutes when he received a ball with his back to the goal and then turned quickly. The shot was over the bar for his disappointment.
Good performance also from the 20-year-old Roman Sobtchenko belonging to the double team.
Flora suffered when HJK withdrew in their half leaving the only Forssell in front: the home side could not find any space and was simply switching the ball from right to left and return. When unable to unlock the opposition, they can count on quick vertical plays thanks to their fast men (Gussev, Prosa, Sappinen, Alliku) and to the fantasy of Beglarashvili. It was a good test for the 25th of February when they will square up with Levadia at the Supercup.
Levadia are keen to let you keep the ball to later finish you off with deadly counters. Under this point of view, HJK posed less threats than expected as we can count about 4 average chances for the Finnish Champions.
On Sunday Flora will take on another big name of Nordic football: Brondby IF.
Kick-off time 20:30 at the indoor hall, entrance 4€
Full list of preseason games for Flora and other Estonian clubs here.