We can file Matchday 7 as a series of ‘first times’.
First time of club football on the real grass this season, as Flora vs. Trans and Tammeka vs. Lokomotiv took place at the A.LeCoq Arena in Tallinn and at the Tamme Stadium in Tartu.
First time for Lokomotiv Jõhvi to grab points, whatever points, in Premium Liiga.
First time for Kalev and Trans to lose an away game.
A first and last time for Nõmme Kalju, as the 2013 runners-up won the first and last game at Hiiu stadium: in two weeks, after the delicate away game in Sillamäe, they will be already playing in Kadriorg (vs. Tammeka).
There was almost a first time for FC Infonet, who never grabbed points against Levadia in their four past clashes. A (rare) blunder by Matvei Igonen opened the downhill to Levadia’s success (3-0) in the last 15 minutes.
The table of the Premium Liiga starts to take the typical characteristics: a title group here and a relegation one there.
At the moment, the first 5 are gathered in 5 points with Levadia being surprisingly at the ‘bottom’.
The relegation group is also held in 5 points with Lokomotiv having grabbed their first point away to Tammeka (1-1) to break a series of defeats and having prevented to get close to equal Kuressaare record of 8 losses in a row (at the end of past season).
The distance between the 5th and the 6th is already 8 points making imply that it will be very hard for anyone (read: Narva Trans) to rise from the dumps and go back into nobler positions.
Taavi 'The Battering Ram' Rähn secured Flora the three points
The ambitions of Bondarenko&Co. have definitely been buried in the sandy grass of A.LeCoq.
Whether Flora was lucky or not, as Bondarenko remarked at the end of the game, Trans lost a key-game against a title-pretender. It happened a week after a meagre display against Kalju. It must be said, that this time Trans showed more discipline and guts in facing Flora. The white-greens found the winner thanks to a defender’s goal (Taavi Rähn). The experienced centre-back is bringing (as predicted) added value not only in the back-line, but also when comes to send a battering ram in front to break the opposition’s resistance.
The winner was worth Flora’s second place in cohabitation with Nõmme Kalju.
The ‘Pink Panthers’ almost managed to ruin the farewell party to Hiiu Stadium when, in second half, they let Kalev pull one back.
The tight 2-1, with 40 minutes to time, bestowed an (unexpected) thrilling afternoon upon the 354 people gathered in Nõmme venue.
Great protagonist (as predicted in our match preview) for Kalju was Karl Mööl who scored a brace and had a great performance away from the pressure of a big fixture. He exploited the chance very well if his intention was to impress Prins.
The latter was obviously not very happy with how Kalju complicated their life against the worst defence of the Premium Liiga. The 47-year-old coach sounded the alarm for all the squad one week before the (now) very important game against tableleader Sillamäe.
The ‘longshoremen’ are watching everyone else from the top floor as they find themselves leading the table for the second week in a row.
Contrary to Narva Trans, Ratnikov&Co. are following their season start’s ambitious words. Sillamäe are unbeaten (5 wins and 2 draws) and they have the best attack of the Premium Liiga (23 goals scored). Most of all, Zahovaiko&Co. are showing a unique facility of playing and going past opponents with almost no hassle. The experienced Ratnikov is obviously stressing what he didn’t like most in his side at every post-match interview, however it is clearly a psychological work to avoid his squad might feel to have achieved something.
The season is too long to feel oneself gratified with what obtained so far. Their ambitions will definitely go under stress test when Prins band will stick around during the next weekend. High tension in Sillamäe.
Levadia are continuing their recovery cure. The ‘sick man’ of the Premium Liiga is on the mend. Pulling down FC Infonet from the second second place was certainly a great injection of self-trust especially for the way it came. As Kristal righteously remarked, it was enough to unlock the stalemate to overwhelm the opposition. The worrying factor is, as usual, the Levadia’s prolonged effort in finding that goal would put the game in favourable terms for the Champions. If last year it was given for granted that sooner or later Rimo Hunt would have smashed it past the opposition’s goalkeeper, this season it seems that there’s no benchmark for Levadia. Kristal is trying any kind of chemistry by switching men and roles (Ivanov as left winger for El-Hussieny was basically a shy attempt of 4-3-3 away from the canonical 4-4-2) hoping to find the right combination. Meanwhile a set-piece on a wet artificial pitch with the complicity of a blunder helped the 40-years-old coach to spend a relaxing weekend.
When everyone thought (us included) that Lokomotiv was going to play the sparring partner in Tartu, Nesterenko’s side managed to shock the Tammeka crowd by leading during the first half a weird game. In fact the first portion was all for ‘Loko’. The opener by Bazjukin was a pearl of coordination and ballistic skill that probably will go in the list of the most beautiful goals of the season. In second half Tammeka pulled themselves together and found a goal by Lorenz, the young captain, after a coner-kick scrum. Tammeka fans can be happy considering they were one nil down in their home debut, however the chance to put 6 points between themselves and the newly promoted was missed.
A game like this gives the idea that the fight in the drop zone will be until the last minute of the last matchday.