Nõmme Kalju lost the table leadership as they stumbled upon Levadia. The defending Champions turned the derby on its head and slotted the three points home (2-1 away). Flora managed the same on Friday thanks to a brace by Markus Jürgenson after Pärnu had taken lead. Sillamäe and FC Infonet shared the spoils in a rare goalless draw (fourth of the season in Premium Liiga). In the relegation pool, Tammeka beat Paide at home for the first time in six years (3-2) and Narva Trans put an end to their crisis with a 2-0 against Viljandi Tulevik , thus ending their positive streak.
They say that making predictions is a thankless task. Some weeks ago I said that this is Kalju’s season, after they lost to Narva Trans and Flora did not take the chance to bridge the gap. Three weeks later, the league table has been turned on its head: Flora are on top and Kalju now a point behind. Flora regained the top position after a eight month gap. Ironically, it was Kalju stripping Flora of the leadership in a derby held at the end of September 2014. We will soon find out whether they are going to stay there for as long as they did last season (17 matchdays).
Ingemar Teever, the derby’s man
Last season he collected a discrete tally of 15 goals. However, compared to three top scorers - all 30 goals and over - it looked like a normal sidekick job of what his teammate Igor Subbotin did for Levadia (32 goals). Ingemar Teever has already collected 10 goals, turned off critics expecting another striker to be signed and put his ribbon on few derbies. He scored twice against Flora and once this weekend against his former club, Nõmme Kalju. Meanwhile Estonian national team coach, Magnus Pehrsson, has sent him a preliminary call-up for Estonia’s international games in June (friendly in Finland and Euro qualifier against the tiny San Marino). He is 32 years old and still on the edge.
The change of coach is beneficial. Or is it?
"Let him have a holiday," said the active chairman of the Eastern Estonia club, Nikolai Burdakov, upon sacking Aleksei Yagudin and hinting at his return in Autumn(!). The team was entrusted to Nikolai Toshchev, futsal coach at Sillamäe Dina during the winter (silver medal in the national championship). His assistant is all-time Premium Liiga topscorer, Maksim Gruznov. Gruznov’s lifetime suspension for matchfixing was recently reduced to a 5-year probation time, as he allegedly collaborated with the Estonian FA in digging the matchfixing organization behind him. The duo’s debut was a safe win against the surprise package Viljandi Tulevik, a typical immediate positive effect of a coach change. On Monday evening they travel to Paide with a good chance of gaining positive results two rounds in a row.
Kalju vs Levadia - a vibrant derby
Contrary to many of the latest Tallinn derbies, the one witnessed in Hiiu Stadium by 1,500 people was one of the most vibrant seen in recent times. It ended 1-2 for Levadia, but could well have been 3-2, 3-4 or else. Both teams played openly, without either tactical burdens or fear of losing. Kalju opened with a ballistic feat by its samurai, Hidetoshi Wakui, and Levadia levelled with a penalty transformed by Dmitri Kruglov before the half-time whistle. In second half, each side had plenty of chances to go in front, however it was Levadia that scored 10 minutes before the 90 minute marker. But it was not over yet. Pareiko had to first outdo himself with a spectacular save on Neemelo and, from a corner kick, the opposing goalkeeper, Vitali Teleś, was about to score a legendary equalizer before the full-time whistle in injury time. Bravo!
We’re Tammeka, we never win easily
With the all eyes turned to the basketball final in Tartu to watch Rock clinch the title, there were only 276 people present at the Tamme Stadium. Tammeka’s average attendance at home games is around 500 people. However, those 276 people were not spared drama and emotions during a sunny Friday evening. Tammeka managed to take the lead with an own-goal by Paide Linnameeskond’s Andre Mägi. This was not the prelude to a smooth game since Zahovaiko scored his 8th goal this season for the visitors. The veteran Kristjan Tiirik put Tammeka in front in second half and a tap-in goal by Kevin Rääbis just three minutes before time was up looked like securing Tammeka with their second home victory (3-1). But this was just an impression as Tammeka seemed to do their best to make Paide come back. And Lauri Välja indeed managed to bridged the gap a little (3-2) in a last minute authentic thriller. Those 276 did not get bored.
For more information in English about Premium Liiga and Estonian football visit www.rumodispo.com.
Editor: M. Oll