Sunny Turkey hosted the camp’s first exhibition game: this time, Valmiera FC met with their former nemesis – KF Shkendija. In a match that held two different halves both teams scored two goals to reach a 2:2 draw.
The first half showed Valmiera FC’s qualities as the team controlled the ball more often. Both sides went up and down the pitch, but the dangerous chances didn’t come often.
In the 19th minute of the game, Roberts Veips began an attack that resulted in a goal – a pass to Pape Yare Fall, who elected to go for a cross. On the way to the net, the ball ricocheted off an opposing player’s leg, leaving his goalkeeper in an awkward position as he couldn’t make a save, Djirbil Gueye finished it off – 1:0 for Valmiera.
On-pitch battles continued leading to a few injuries – Fall had to be subbed off at the 26th minute which meant that Emils Birka would take his place. The 42nd minute brought yet another change, Camilo Mena went off the pitch for him to be replaced by Niks Dusalijevs.
In the extra time of the first-half coach, Jurgis Kalns invited his team to make one last effort in the attack, which worked beautifully. Daniels Balodis sent a stretch pass to Renars Varslavans, who entered the penalty area and sent the ball toward the net. It slid past Djibril Gueye and an opposing defender but Niks Dusalijevs was there to finish off the sequence and make it 2:0 after the first 45 minutes.
The second half presented a way different game which was now controlled by Shkendija. Much of that is due to a brand new set of players stepped on the pitch for Valmiera. They made a massive effort to attack while our side had to rely on counters.
An error on our own end – a pass was intercepted and the opposing forward went to kick the ball in the net. Goalkeeper, Roberts Apsitis made the initial save, then the ball hit the post but the second attempt was successful and the lead was cut to a minimum.
Another development on the pitch turned heads in the 55th minute when while trying to gain possession Ingars Pulis collided with an opposing player – the referee elected to show the red card and send the player off the pitch.
Shkendija struck for the second time in the match – a positional attack led to a pass to a perfect position near the penalty area. Eraldo Cinari made no mistake to send the ball right under the crossbar to tie things up and lead the game to a 2:2 tie.
Our starting 11 vs Shkendija: Klavs Lauva, Daniels Balodis, Roberts Veips, Pape Yare Fall, Ivan Zhelizko, Renars Varslavans, Alvis Jaunzems, Fraj Kairmani, Diop Meissa, Camilo Mena, Djibril Gueye.
The players involved in the game from the bench: Roberts Apsitis, Kristers Cudars, Niks Sliede, Emils Birka, Maksims Tonisevs, Danila Patijcuks, Olgerds Rascevskis, Jekabs Laguns, Niks Dusalijevs, Kai Hatano, Ingars Pulis.
Our second match in Turkey will be played on Sunday, February 12th when we will meet FK Olympic Tashkent.