Light at the end of the tunnel for Kalev?
The first match of round XV played in Tallinn brought us the clash between the bottom two teams on the table. The weather was also against them and the heavy rain before the match is definitely the main reason for the low turnout of only 98 spectators. But let’s see if it influenced the game as well.
Coach Zamogilnõi used his standard 4-2-3-1 formation and made two changes from the team that drew against Tammeka in the previous round. Captain Savitski was again on the goal, his brother Aleksei and Heintare in central defense while Gavrilov and Kukebal were deployed on the full-back positions. Butlers was in central midfield, this time paired with Ionel Armean, Koger played as attacking midfielder, Karpov was on the left flank while Omanidze was used on the right flank, occasionally switching positions with the team’s top scorer Aleksei Belov as central forward.
The ad interim coach of Lokomotiv, Andrei Skaleta, faced a lot of problems in compiling the team for this game. In such circumstances he opted for Matrossov between the sticks, Zahharenkov and Kulikov in central defense, Vladimirov on the left full-back position and captain Smirnov on the right. Kevin Kaivoja orchestrated the midfield together with Bazjukin who often joined the attacking line of Loko, Alania was on his left flank, Kutuzov on the right, Naveriani operated the middle and Garsevanishvili was used as the only striker.
The beginning of the match was quite sloppy as both teams were struggling with the pitch still flooded and in such conditions it seemed like the guests were the ones who took over the initiative. In the 12th minute they were very close to breaking the deadlock, but Naveriani’s header went centimeters away from Savitski’s goal. In the 14th minute another excellent shot by Kutuzov, but captain Savitski once again proved his worth. Lokomotiv players continued their domination in midfield but their finishing was rather poor and it took them 30 more minutes to find the way to the goal. In the 42nd minute after what seemed harmless attack by the visitors turned to be a nightmare for Heintare who slipped and allowed Kutuzov to score. Completely deserved lead for the guests and disappointment for the home crowd whose main entertainment at that point were the free ice creams given by Premia. However, in the next attack Karpov was fouled on the left side. Armean took the free kick and his curled ball deceived Matrossov who didn’t know what to do, so Omanidze was quicker than him and headed the ball in the net. Cheers on the stands and applause from Tammeka former coach Uwe Erkenbrecher who came to watch the game. That marked the end of the first half. Interesting 45 minutes in which Loko had more of the ball but the end result is still not in their favour. Can they turn the tables in the second half?
After another round of free ice cream for the kids at the stadium, the players made their way back to the pitch. In the 50th minute the first chance for the home team was “wasted” by Koger. He went to the left side and tried to send a ball into the box, but his shot was deflected and almost surprised the visitors’ goalkeeper as it ended up hitting the post. On the other side, in the 62nd minute Bazjukin tried his luck with a nice shot which again went few centimeters away from Savitski’s goal. In the 71st minute, Omanidze came out 1-on-1 with Matrossov, but the goalkeeper of Lokomotiv was the more successful one in this situation pulling out a nice save to deny Kalev the lead. Two minutes later Belov tried his luck from distance, but his canon shot was sent into corner by Matrossov. However, in the 80th minute after some poor defending by Zahharenkov, Omanidze received a nice ball in the box and didn’t have any troubles to give his team the lead and eventually the win in this tough game.
After 15 matches, Lokomotiv is deeply stuck on 10th place with 3 points and only a world-class signing (read: miracle) can save them from relegation this season. Kalev Tallinn, though, after managing to accumulate 4 more points in the last 2 games are now just a point behind Tammeka and 3 behind Narva who are both in positions that guarantee them a place in Premium Liiga next season as well. Can they overtake any of them? Only time will show.