The new pitch brings new battles for the old opponents
As the spring makes its way, the teams are slowly making their transition from artificial to natural turf. Such was the case with FC Flora as they had the chance to play their first match at the biggest stadium in the country, the A. Le Coq Arena. The good weather and the stadium, however, weren’t good enough invitation for the spectators as only 243 fans showed up.
Coach Norbert Hurt decided to make few changes in the team and rested the standard goalkeeper Toom, the midfielder Luigend and the right winger Alliku. Without them, the starting XI of the home team sounded like this. Between the sticks, for the first time this season was Stanislav Prins, in defense Rähn and Mets, Jürgenson on the right full back position and Aloe on the left. In central midfield, Andre Frolov was paired with Brent Lepistu, Logua was on his left flank position, Beglarishvili was again tasked with the playmaker’s role and Sappinen was handed first start of the season as a right winger. The central forward position was once again reserved for Albert Prosa.
On the other side, as we predicted in the match preview, coach Valeri Bondarenko opted for the same squad and formation from the last match, meaning Lepmets was on the goal, Nesterovski and Avdeev in central defense and Andrejev and Tamberg on the full-back positions. In midfield, Tenno and Irie were tasked with breaking off Flora’s attacks, Plotnikov and Fjodorov attacked from the flanks and Misins played just behind Eliseenok in the attacking line of the guests from Narva.
The match started with calm game on both sides, Flora trying to blend in the new players, while Narva was trying to exploit the non-cohesive game of the hosts and endanger Prins. The first real chance didn’t come before 23rd minute when Flora’s goalkeeper had an insecure intervention, just to correct himself and grab the ball before any of the Narva’s attackers could get hold of it. In the same minute on the other side Beglarishvili tested Lepmets with a shot from 25 meters, but Narva’s goalkeeper calmly saved the ball. In the 30th minute Tamberg’s attempt went just over the bar and that sounded the alarm in Flora’s squad. In 35th minute they charged fully towards Narva’s goal, getting two corners that they didn’t manage to convert. In the 39th minute they had the biggest chance of the first half when Lepmets punched the ball that got to the feet of Sappinen whose deflected effort went just wide. It is worth mentioning that Trans Narva showed a lot of discipline in their squad, not allowing Flora’s players to make breakthroughs and create many chances. The long balls towards Prosa that worked perfectly against Levadia were well-read and cut on time. Until the end of the first half none of the teams had any serious chances to take the lead so the referee Juri Frischer without any delays marked the end of the first 45 minutes.
Coach Hurt will definitely have a word with his players as it is obvious that the changes he made haven’t yet adapted to the game he wants to see from his team. Coach Bondarenko, on the other hand, must find a way to use that and cause damage on the counters.
After the 15 minutes break in which the organizers managed to make few of their fans happy through their half time games, the referee and the players were out on the pitch again, ready to begin the second part of the battle and try to go for the three points from this match.
Already in the 47th minute we could witness that the advice from coach Hurt had an impact on the players. Flora’s players started the second half very organized and willing to make the difference. Beglarishvili made a nice breakthrough through the middle and created space for Logua on the left whose attempt to pass the ball towards the middle of the box was blocked. In the 52nd minute it was time for Alliku to make his way and try to break Narva’s defensive line. It didn’t take long as in the 54th minute, Taavi Rähn managed to head the ball over Sergei Lepmets after the long ball in the box from Zakaria Beglarishvili. 1-0 for the home side and signs of relief on their bench, joy on the stands.
Narva players, however, refused to give up. In the 56th minute chance for Plotnikov but easy save for Prins. In the 65th minute we could witness the best chance for the visitors in this match. Fjodorov sent a long ball towards Misins in the box, the lively playmaker of Trans managed to escape his defender but the right post was Prins’ ally as he managed to deflect the second attempt into corner. The corner brought a new danger in Flora’s box, but Prins showed excellent skills pulling out a great save to keep his team’s lead. The attacking style of play by the visitors meant more space for Flora’s attackers. In one such situation, Gussev managed to run away from his defenders, sent the ball in the box where Prosa smashed it in the bar with a powerful header. In the 73rd minute another chance for Prosa, who got one-on-one with Lepmets, but Narva’s shot-stopper was a bit quicker.
Until the end of the match, Trans Narva tried to establish control and to push Flora deeper into their own half, but that didn’t bring them any result, marking their second defeat of the campaign and second in a row, which endangers their “title-contender’s” quest. Flora, on the other hand, got what they came for, three points on their account and second place on the table, just behind Kalev from Sillamäe, making them forget about the two winless games and good atmosphere before travelling to the other side of town next week where they will be hosted by Tallinna Kalev.