Friday, 28 October 2016

There's Only One Teeming Tallinn

Marginal collateral programme damage - not bad under the circumstances, trust me!

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Friday 28 October 2016 at Lasnamäe Stadium
FC Infonet Tallinn 3 Paide Linnameeskond 1
Premium Liiga (Estonian top tier)
Ground 595 and my first in Estonia.
Pre-match preparation
Originally this game was scheduled for tomorrow.  The unexpected switch with a fixture in Tartu has cost me a few euros in hotel fees but that will have to go down to experience.  Infonet are league leaders with two games to go, leading three other teams by two points.  A win tonight and they could seal the title on other results tomorrow, but that seems unlikely and the race will almost certainly go down to the wire next week.  The visitors have nothing to play for either way so all results are possible especially if nervousness sets in.  I arrived in Tallinn this morning and type this from a nearby hotel room two hours before kickoff.  It has been raining incessantly all day and I abandoned other touristic activity.  Groundhopping isn’t always glamour and bright lights.  To be fair, you are more likely to get bright lights than glamour.
This match in one sentence
Vital result for Infonet from a game played in awkward weather conditions with the result in doubt except for the last five minutes.
So what?
Infonet extend their lead and keep the title destiny in their own hands.  It is up to three other sides tomorrow to keep the race alive until the final week of the season.
The drama unfolds
A crowd of round about 200 watched Infonet make the early running.  However, their first goal had a hint of fortune – they scored on the break after Paide’s first decent attack of the game had given them a corner.  Sergei Mošnikov rounded the keeper to the right and rolled the ball into an empty net.  1-0 after 16 min

The weather conditions were pretty vile.  A swirling wind was interspersed with periods of driving rain.   Infonet’s keeper Mihhail Lavrentjev soon had to make a double save as Paide tried to strike back immediately.  They eventually levelled after another corner.  Lavrentjev couldn’t fully clear and the ball fell to Joosep Juha who smashed it home.  1-1 after 32 min

Infonet started to show signs of nerves even though they restored their territorial advantage quickly enough.  In stoppage time Paide broke the offside line and Juri Jevdokimov was through.  He shot into the side netting under pressure and that, there, was the game’s “what if?” moment.  1-1 at half-time

The weather continued to be awful and the game was interesting more because of its importance and its balance rather than its technical merit.  It was like many of the games I saw in the Faroes, played at a high tempo on an artificial surface.  Only one person was brave enough to watch from  the balconies, and he didn’t last the pace.  Vladimir Voskoboinikov had a great chance to settle the nerves after 53 minutes but the Paide keeper Kert Kütt saved with his legs.  Just after the hour, Infonet made a substitution just before a corner.  It was an inspired move as number 9 Jevgeni Harin scored with his first touch.  2-1 after 61 mins

The game became tetchy. There were several handbag moments with yellow cards to match.  Paide looked just as dangerous.  Then, influential Infonet playmaker Sergey Tumasyan, who had never shied away from the ball all evening, met a clearance with a first-time shot that nestled in the net, off the bar.  A great goal to settle the result of the game.  It seems to have been his first appearance in over a month.  3-1 after 85 mins and at full-time
Ground Pix

Infonet have a mascot.  Hello, Beastie.

Match Pix
Best camera was left safely in the warm, dry hotel room but here is a very short clip to give you an idea of first-half conditions.  The blogpost title is a reference to a famous non-event involving Scotland, by the way.

Learn Estonian Through Football
Liiga tabel – league table
Punkti – points
Väravakütid – scorers
Otseülekanded – live broadcast
Penktadienis – Friday
Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
Both keepers wore orange this evening.
Full table will be reprinted later this month.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  The provisional plan is to head initially for the game at second-placed Flora.

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