Sunday, 30 October 2016

Way Out East

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Sunday 30 October 2016 at Ahtme Gümnaasium Kunstmurustaadion
Jöhvi FC Lokomotiv 0 JK Keila 1
II Liiga Promotion Play-Off 1st Leg (Estonian 4th tier)
Ground 598
Pre-match preparation
I chose this match, 2hrs to the east of Tallinn, for two reasons.  Firstly, although at a lower level than the second-tier alternatives on offer, it has more sporting significance.  This match means something to both sides.  Secondly, it was a chance to see some of Estonia beyond the capital.  I think this game will also be the most easterly that I have ever watched.

These two sides were runners-up in their regions.  Keila had six more points from the same number of regular-season games, but it is hard to say whether that is significant.
This match in one sentence
Lokomotiv kept the tie in the balance despite going down to ten men just before half-time.
So what?
The second leg is scheduled for next weekend.  If I am reading the league structures correctly, the winner will then have to meet the eighth-placed side in III Liiga for the promoted place.
The drama unfolds
A crowd of around 50 was gathered, mostly appearing from warm cars at the last moment.  As might be expected, the sides seemed well matched.  They largely cancelled each other out.  There was plenty of effort but not much final product and I made very few notes in the first 30 minutes or so.  Then the Lokomotive keeper, wearing white and the number 99, made a great save to tip the ball over the bar.  A goalmouth scramble followed from the corner.  By this point, Keila were slightly on top with their number 7, Emmanuel Odeh, looking sharp on the wing.

The hinge point came on 37 minutes.  A second yellow card was waved at a Lokomotiv defender for a reckless challenge on Odeh, who needed treatment.  He had recovered in time to poke home what turned out to be the game’s only goal from close range just before the break.  0-1 after 43 mins

Lokomotiv could have equalised almost immediately.  A great move on the left with a perfectly weighted pass inside the full-back released number 12, but his pass inside led to a rather tame shot by a colleague.  0-1 at half-time

Credit is due to the ten men, who kept fighting and fashioned the occasional half-chance, the best coming from set pieces.  Keila were not creating too much themselves and the game settled into a mainly defensive stalemate.  Locomotiv did not simply settle for damage limitation and were happy to get forward at every opportunity.  However, defences and keepers did their jobs and the tie is still alive with only a one-goal margin going forward to next week’s second leg.  Final score 0-1
Ground Pix

Match Pix
FC Lokomotiv are in red.
Who was that masked man?

Scorer Emmanuel Odeh (7) at work annoying defenders

Learn Estonian Through Football
Püapaev – Sunday
Eesti – Estonian
Jalgpall – football
Külalised - visitors
üks-null – one-nil
Särgid – shirts
Püksid - shorts
Põlvikud – socks

Leegitatud kitsejuust rohelise salati padja ja röstitud seedermänni seemnetega – Flamed goat’s cheese with a bed of green salad and roasted pine nuts

And finally, you should know this running gag by now...
Mu hõljuk on angerjaid täis
Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
An unusual colour, White, let in one goal while Blue keeps a clean sheet.

The full table will be reprinted later this month.
Reflections on Groundhopping in Estonia
Close followers will be aware that I had originally booked and paid for a stay in Tartu on Friday night so I had to switch hotels at the last minute because of a fixture change.  I will put that loss down to experience and pay a slightly higher room rate in future to keep the free cancellation option.  In the end I stayed at Hotels Susi and Ülemiste and would be happy to recommend both.  I fly back tomorrow at noon having seen four games and spent Saturday morning exploring the old city.

I flew from Stansted with Ryanair and hired a compact car with Alamo, and everything went smoothly.  I am glad I added a SatNav – life would have been difficult as a solo traveller without it.  In the end the car got me and my luggage to the hotels and stayed there except for the Sunday trip to Ahtme which would have been difficult otherwise.  Driving in Tallinn was reasonably straightforward compared with other places I have been!  For city tourism, the best advice is to buy a green Tallinn Transport card for 2 euros and then top it up online.  The cards are available from the R-Kiosks.  I paid 3 euros plus the card fee for my Saturday travelling.  You are then free to travel on the buses and trams for a maximum of 3 euros per day.  I’d say if you are not going out of Tallinn then don’t bother with a car – the airport is almost walking distance from the city centre!  Download a decent transport map to your phone before you travel.

I walked to FC Infonet, took the bus-and-tram to the national stadium complex, and the car to Ahtme.  Tickets were not a problem – I paid 11 euros including two programmes for the two top tier games and the two lower-league ones were free admission.  Facilities at FC Infonet were basic but present, facilities at the national stadium were good.  I didn’t see any frills at either of the lower level games.  Three of the games were on artificial surfaces, but were probably better for it.

Crowds were small but the games were competitive, with all results in doubt either throughout the game or until well into the second half.  Next time I would pay for a suitcase rather than stick to hand luggage – I needed another layer on the legs!  Woolly hats, gloves and plenty of layers are needed at this time of year– it was either very wet or very cold at every game I attended.  It was all very safe.

The fixture calendar is likely to give plenty of opportunities for multi-game weekends, with plenty in and around Tallinn itself.  The city his very photogenic, and there are lots of people trying to do their photographic thing.  I’d like to go again to pay more attention to some of the culture and history.  Thanks to you the readers for the mentions and retweets.  I love this hobby.

Edit: I should have added that the Estonian Football Association website was my biggest source of information.  It was updated quickest, and was invaluable in pinning down late date switches, and the times and venues for the lower-league fixtures.  The Google translation from Estonian is quirky to say the least but it is possible to extract the key facts.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  I suspect work commitments will take over again soon enough but I would like to reach the 600 mark sooner rather than later!

1 comment:

  1. Im amazed at your level of analyses of football. You were able to analyse games from critical point of view. You look pro at it.
    In one of the games you watched, Fc Lokomotive vs Keila. Im the scorer of the winning goal. I am that guy that causes problem for defenders!
    Perhaps, lets keep intouch and I show you my video highlight of goals. My email:
    Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!