Competitive draw at the A. Le Coq Arena
After all the rumours we heard about Sillamäe in the previous week and the alleged problems within the club everyone expected Flora to cruise to the win in front of the home crowd and escape their direct rival in the race for the title. However, the guests had other thoughts in their head. The appearance of their former coach Ratnikov was the first surprise they had prepared (he later said that he will stay in the club at the position of sports director). Their game, though, was probably the bigger surprise for the home team. But let’s start from the beginning.
As we mentioned in the preview, coach Hurt had his best XI available for this match and he landed an expected line-up. On the goal first match at the biggest stadium for Toom, Mets and Rähn in central defense, Jürgenson and Baranov on the full back positions. In midfield Karl-Erik Luigend was accompanied by Brent Lepistu, Logua and Alliku operated the flanks, while Zakaria Beglarashvili operated behind the central forward Albert Prosa.
The new head coach of Sillamäe, as expected, didn’t make many big changes in the squad. One of the most obvious substitutions, though, was on the goal where Lavrentjev replaced Starodubtsev who received a lot of criticism from the former coach and wasn’t even on the bench for this match, in central defense, in the absence of Baguzis who got a red card against Kalju, there were Dudarev and Volodin, Aleksejev and Maehara on the full back positions. In central midfield Tjapkin and Paponov were responsible for restricting Flora’s offensive players chances, Kabaev and Masitsev played on the flanks and Ratnikov operated behind Kvasov, the team’s top scorer.
The match started with a very active game from both teams, the home team trying to create chances against the newly formed duo in Sillamäe’s defense, while the guests tried to exploit Flora’s offensive game and be dangerous on the counter. In such conditions the first chance for the home team came in the 11th minute and brought about their first corner of the game. In the 13th minute free kick for Luigend who sent a nice curled ball in the box where Rähn was the highest only his header to be amazingly saved and sent to corner by goalkeeper Lavrentjev. First sighs on the stands where Flora fans created amazing atmosphere and interesting pyro choreography. Back on the pitch the home team continued with the chances. In the 15th minute Logua with a nice breakthrough from the left side, but there was no one in the middle to transform his chance into goal. Already in the next minute another free kick for Luigend, this time it was Prosa who missed the header. As it always happens in football, when you don’t use your chances, the punishment will come. In the 23rd minute Logua inexplicably lost the ball to Kabaev at the edge of the box, the latter passed it in the middle towards Kvasov who didn’t have trouble scoring. 0-1 for the visitors and shock among Flora players. Until the end of the first half the home team didn’t have any serious chances, the only questionable moment being the possible hand ball by Maehara in his own box and the penalty claim by the hosts (better explained here). In the last minute of the first half Sillamäe was very close to doubling their lead when the well-taken corner from Paponov reached Kvasov whose header ended just over the bar. That marked the end of the first 45 minutes.
Well-deserved lead for Sillamäe, after Flora players didn’t use their chances. Coach Norbert Hurt will have to think of a new way to penetrate their guests’ defense, while Dobiza can just encourage his players to continue their brave game and fight till the end for the three points from this derby.
From the very beginning of the second half it was obvious that the players of Flora were determined to score and turn this game in their favour. After the first 10 minutes of testing the weak points of their rivals in the 55th minute long ball from Mets towards Lepistu who passed it in the box towards Prosa whose half-bicycle kick was miraculously saved by Lavrentjev. After completely taking over control of the possession and few unused chances by the hosts, in the 68th minute dangerous counter attack by Kalev. Kabaev lead the ball and passed to Ratnikov but Toom pulled out a very good save to deny the attacking midfielder of the guests. That, however, didn’t shake the home players. In the 79th minute long ball from the captain Rähn in the box, Post shorty headed it towards Prosa who turned around and scored the long awaited goal for Flora. Sighs of relief on the bench, but also encouraging calls to push for the 3 points. In the next minute, however, the free kick from Paponov instigated a very good save from Toom. In the 81st minute another excellent decision by the goalkeeper of the home team to leave his line and react before Kvasov managed to get hold of the ball. The last attempt came from Beglarishvili, whose great shot went just wide. Until the end of the game the guests managed to calm the game down and brought it to a safe end. 1-1 in the capital and good atmosphere for them before returning the favour and hosting Flora next week at their stadium in Sillamäe. FC Flora, on the other hand, should do much better if they are about to win any of the derby games this season and stay in the title race.