JK Tallinna Kalev 0
Tartu Jalgpallikool Tammeka 4
Following their much-documented switch from professional to amateur status, JK Tallinna Kalev look to be in deep trouble after a heavy 4-0 defeat at home to Tammeka’s football academy.
With just a week to go before their Premium Liiga season openers, neither side are ideally placed after a tumultuous summer which saw Kalev switch from professional to amateur status, and Tammeka fail to apply for their league license, leading to the club’s youth academy to be admitted to the league instead (full story here).
On the newly laid artificial pitch in the shadows of Kalevi Staadion, both sides lined up with a host of unfamiliar faces for a match could easily have been mistaken for a high school friendly. Teenagers decked in jogger bottoms and beany hats were aplenty on a pitch field bordered on three sides by a leafy graveyard, the memory of both side’s recent history’s seemingly laid to rest ahead of uncertain new dawns.
Kalev, clad in all-white, began with an attack-minded 4-2-2-2 formation; two wingers supporting the strikers, with the number 9 playing in the trequartista role, dropping back to help out the two-man midfield. Tammeka opted for a more traditional 4-4-2 with frontman Martin Ääsmäe operating in a freer role.
Kalev: D. Savitski, Gavrilov (Heliste), Butlers (Kriisa), Hausenberg (Heintare), Kukebal (Karpov), Issakov (Stepanjan), Aru (Kahr), Tekko (I. Paal), Niinlaub (Välja), Koger (Valge (Babjak)), Naariste (A. Savitski)
Tammeka: Kütt (45. Pechter), Martin Jõgi, Lorenz, Anderson, Naggel, Peedo (60. Koskor), Paju, Markus Jõgi, Tauts, Aasmäe (45. Naal), Valtna. Varus
The game began in quick but uninspiring fashion. Both sides looked lively and pressed eagerly but a lack of quality on the ball was painfully evident as neither side took hold of the game in the opening exchanges.
Forward passes were restricted to hopeful long balls over the defence and shots were at a premium as both sets of players looked to settle.
The first real chance of note came in the 21st minute and, with it, came the opening goal.
Priit Peedo got the better of his marker and hooked a left-wing cross goalwards, the ball taking a deflection before nestling into the bottom corner. It was the game’s first real piece of quality and gave the impetus to the visitors, who went on to take a further stranglehold on the match.
Kalev’s response came quickly after the restart as they broke through 1-1 with the goalkeeper but the shot was blocked by the onrushing goalkeeper. It was to be a rare chance for the home side as a subsequent lack of success from their central approach was contrasted by Tammeka’s joy down the flanks.
Quality continued to evade the game, but when it did pop up again Tammeka doubled their lead. In the 32nd minute, Peedo picked the ball up 25 yards out to the right of centre and unleashed a rasping shot that flew into the top corner, out of reach of the goalkeepers flailing left hand. It was another bolt out of the blue and was in stark contrast to what had come in the majority of the preceding half an hour.
The overall momentum was with Tammeka now and just four minutes later, they had their third goal. Valtna turned provider as he commandingly turned his marker on the right hand side, got to the by-line and cut the ball back to Martin Aasmäe. His first touch switched the ball from his right foot to his left, bamboozling his marker before sliding the ball across the keeper and into the far corner. Tammeka had begun to put their early lack of quality behind them as Kalev were sinking without a trace.
Kalev changed every player but the goalkeeper at the half time break but it failed to stem the tide and they looked even less like scoring in the second period.
Tammeka began picked up where they left off in the first, the Kalev goalkeeper being rounded but the angle proving too narrow for a shot. Tammeka were finding holes in the Kalev defence as they host’s backline received little in the way of support from the rest of the team.
In truth, neither side were playing with any sort of ‘unit’ mentality; Tammeka were simply using the ball far better than their opponents when they had it. A ludicrous attempt at a lob from 35 yards out by the Kalev right-back epitomised their performance as not even an attempt at audacity seemed a realistic route to goal.
Had Tammeka’s composure in front of goal been of a higher standard they could have boasted a far greater margin by the time Kevin Anderson headed in a late fourth goal, but they were at no point required to move out of third gear and a dominant second half display, following their clinical finishing in the first half, was more than enough to see off Kalev. Their movement and variety of forward play improved as the game went on but it remains to be seen whether they can replicate this against far better opposition.
Kalev won’t want to replicate this display against anyone in future and it seems very difficult to see how they could possibly compete in the upcoming Premium Liiga.
Credit must go to the players, however, as they have been truly thrown in at the deep end following the winter’s dramatic events and their effort, at least, couldn’t be faulted. The club can only continue trying to strike gold on the player recruitment front and hope that this performance was simply a flash in the pan. It looks painstakingly unlikely, though.
Kalev will debut on the 1st of March against Sillamäe home, Tammeka's debut is set a week later in Tallinn against FC Infonet as home games are postponed to Spring.
More info about opening matchday here.