Next week Premium Liiga will wrap up the first round as one quarter of the season (9/36) will be gone and none of the title contenders have been outstanding compared to the others.
The ‘small escape’ of Sillamäe ended after two matchdays thanks to Nõmme Kalju authoritative performance in Eastern Estonia.
It was the tastier dish of Matchday 8 as Kalju and Sillamäe were only 3 points short (14 vs. 17). The 2013 runners-up managed to close the gap scoring one goal for each point needed and confirming that if there’s any title race launched by anyone, they are there to give battle until the end.
Sillamäe was unbeaten up to yesterday. Nõmme Kalju had won all the previous away clashes played (3) as no one else did this year. Prins’ squad seems indeed more effective away from Tallinn. Next week it’s already time to move to Kadriorg where they had their last home win (5-0 over FC Infonet).
Ratnikov was not happy at all with the performance of his XI, probably at their worst display this season. They betrayed the absence of Zahovaiko, sidelined by a last-minute injury, and were not able to exploit the good chances created in first half after a Reintam’s poacher’s goal brought the visitors ahead. Neemelo had even the chance to make it 2-0 before half-time whistle however he incredibly passed the ball to Starodubtchev when picked up in the box. It was just the wake-up call for Sillamäe as in second half the Japanese Wizard, Hidetoshi Wakui, scored a screamer and brought Kalju two nil up.
It was the 8th time that Wakui scored a goal against Sillamäe, a real nightmare for the Eastern Estonia club. With a sound advantage, Prins men controlled the game and found the 3-0 with Kimbaloula (4th goal this season already) pushing a ball undisturbed after another blunder by Starodubtchev.
The 0-3 was the full time score as Eiko Saar whistled the end of a game Sillamäe had to play for most of the time one man light as Lithuanian Baguźis was righteously sent off for a last-man foul (he held Neemelo running towards the goal in first half).
Are Sillamäe ambitions belittled?
Certainly, a win would have represented an important message to the Premium Liiga, however the overall balance in this first act of the football drama has been definitely positive. Additionally, they have already a trip to Tallinn to face Flora next week to redeem themselves in the eyes of their disappointed coach and fans.
Kalju have finally filled in the gap and cancelled the mistake that compelled them to a technical loss against Infonet in matchday 1. Quite curiously, they did that on Sergei Terehhov’s birthday (he was the one responsible of the bureaucratic blunder). Probably the best present ever as now Kalju ‘start over’ on the same level as the others and having Levadia behind (two-point gap). Obviously, looking at the water glass half empty, now they would be on top of the table, alone and unbeaten. Details.
The other Eastern Estonia venues offered one interesting clash and a one-way one.
With the latter we definitely finger at the Lokomotiv-Levadia game, grass-pitch debut for the newly promoted. Contrary to the past, Levadia found an immediate opener (Subbotin) which put their souls at ease. With Lokomotiv unable to bring any danger to Levadia’s half, the game entered a lull until the same Subbotin rounded up on 39’ minute. The game was virtually over and Levadia started to spare energies already for next week’s debut in Kadriorg against Narva Trans. Kristal was very prudent in not risking Vukobratovic for this game (he is cautioned) giving the clear sign he was fearing most Trans than Loko. Lithuanian Buinickj and the midfield jolly, Andreas Raudsepp, fixed the score on 4-0 for the 2013 Champions.
In Narva things were not so smooth for the surprise package of the Premium Liiga as FC Infonet found themselves in a difficult moment already 2 minutes from kick-off when defender Vitali Andrejev put it past Igonen. Puśtov XI was clearly tired of the additional 90’ played during the week in the Estonian Cup when they managed to overcome amateur side, FC Puuma, with a tiny 2-0. As usual, they displayed few problems in finishing the chances they could create. It took a midfielder, Tanel Melts, to pull level on 29’ and fix the score on what probably was a useless draw for both sides. Trans could not get closer to the top5, Infonet is little by little going astray and not bottoms the top5 with the least points (14) and smallest goal tally (11).
The home draw against FC Infonet allowed Paide to overcome Narva Trans and place themselves ahead of Bondarenko’s squad. It was a flamboyant game in Tartu as Tammeka received Paide for their second seasonal home game. In front of almost 500 people (matchday record) the final score was 2-4 with Paide always ahead of the home team. Next week the white-blues will leave their Tamme nest to visit the bogeyman Kalju in the Kadriorg venue.
The only game played in Tallinn (Kalev-Flora) went according to plans as the white-green got better of the ‘kalevlased’ with a sound 4-1 win. However, not everything was as smooth as it seems from the final score as the visitors got themselves into troubles after twenty-one minutes when Jürgenson helped Kalev to score a goal. A short drama though as Rauno Alliku fixed everything eight minutes later pulling level. It was a Sander Post’s job to finally bring Flora forward just before the half time whistle. In second half, probably shaken by Hurt’s speech, Flora marched steadily to secure the win as Alliku completed his hattrick (52’ and 69’) fixing the score.
The ‘away’ win in Kalev Central Stadium gave the chance to Hurt side to receive Sillamäe on same points level as next week the clash in A.LeCoq could already turn to be a decider.