Archive for November, 2020

Lokomotiv Moscow v Chertanovo, Sunday 11th October 2020, 2pm

November 29, 2020

As I clock up visits to the various Moscow stadiums, my options for new grounds get fewer each week. In an effort to find a game for this trip I had a look to see what was going on in the Women’s Supreme Division. It must be difficult to try and come up with new titles for leagues and I think that’s the first use of ’Supreme’ that I’ve seen outside of Crufts.

My luck was in and there was a game taking place at the Sapsan Arena which appeared to be right next door to the main Lokomotiv stadium that I’d recently visited.

As I already knew how to get there I thought I’d also pay a repeat visit to the nearby Sokolniki Park before the match. This time I took the paths to the right of the main entrance gate and tried to skirt the edge of the park as much as possible. It wasn’t as busy as the other side which has the funfair, but it was a lot earlier in the day.

One of the reasons for staying to that side of the park was that I was keen to find the Spartak training complex with a future visit in mind. I crossed over a fairly busy road and continued for around twenty minutes, unsure if I was still in the park or not. I found the complex which had at least two pitches with stands and look forward to returning at some point for what will most likely be an under-nineteen game.

After a further wander around the park I took the subway up to the Lokomotiv stop and followed the smattering of fans who were heading past the main stadium, hopefully to the game. I passed a guard and then walked through a park with a couple of other adjacent pitches before arriving at the Sapsan Arena.

It was free to get in and I had the usually temperature and bag check, before being asked whether I was a Lokomotiv or a Chertanovo fan. I told them that I was neither, which temporarily flummoxed them, before being directed to sit in the central section of the only stand open.

Had I told them I was there to support Chertanovo I’d have been directed to the section to my right, with the dozen or so away fans. I’d no way of knowing if they were fans specifically of the Women’s team or whether they just got along to any Chertanovo game that they could but they had a few chants that seemed player specific.

The ten thousand capacity stadium had three stands, being spoilt only by there being nothing more than a five a side court behind the goal to my left. The pitch looked a bit odd. I’m sure that it was artificial but it seemed to be cutting up in areas, perhaps with too much of that black rubber that always ends up in your boots. Lokomotiv were in white with Chertanovo in blue.

Marina Fedorova stood out in central midfield for Lokomotiv. Her touch appeared way ahead of a couple of the Chertanovo defenders who looked as if they were using their wrong foot regardless of which one they used.

Half an hour in there was a pitch invader wearing a home shirt who almost scored. None of the players seemed to notice him and he nearly beat the keeper to a loose ball in the six yard box. After his goalmouth exertions he made his way towards the dugouts and was escorted away by someone who I presume was the stadium manager. They disappeared behind the stand and five minutes later three cops briskly made their way over, batons swinging from their belts.

Lokomotiv took the lead just before half time when Nelli Korovkina turned her marker inside the box and gave the keeper no chance. A second followed soon after when she ran on to a through ball and again placed it beyond the reach of the away keeper.

Five minutes after the break Korovkina got her hat trick with a tap in after a clever pass into the box that split the defence. It had been the best bit of skill of the afternoon and drew smiles and applause from all bar the dozen away fans. As a neutral it just what I hope to see in a game I attend and with another forty minutes for Chertanovo to try and keep the score down, a rout looked on the cards

Maybe Lokomotiv eased off after their third, because we had a spell where Chertanovo held their own and then, despite heading for their tenth defeat in ten games, the visitors pulled one back in the eightieth minute with a drive from the edge of the box.

With five minutes left Korovkina almost got her fourth against her former team but couldn’t quite get on the end of a cross from the right and it was her teammate Kristina Cherkasova who instead finished it to restore the three-goal advantage.

There was still one more to come a couple of minutes later and with Korovkina going nowhere, she was brought down for a pen. Former Betis and Metz midfielder Fedorova capped a commanding performance with a two step pen into the bottom left hand corner for a five-one victory.

FC Veles v Orenburg, Sunday 4th October 2020, 2pm

November 17, 2020

Veles play in Domodedovo, which is about twenty miles south of Moscow. I could probably have taken a couple of Metro rides and then a surface train but, conscious of Covid risks and if I’m honest the arseaboutery of having to head into the centre only to head back out again, I opted for a taxi.

I was dropped outside of the five thousand capacity Avangard stadium and noticed some football activity on an adjacent pitch. It was some sort of seven a side tournament with two games taking place simultaneously, crossways in each half. The pitch was next to a park area with a playground where groups of blokes stood around swigging vodka, despite it not being much past midday. We’ve all been there.

It was a little early for me to join them so I had a wander up to the stadium and then carried on along some kind of heritage footpath. Every couple of hundred yards there would be a star with a date on it commemorating the wartime history from that year. As I didn’t have too much time to spare it’s as well that the Second World War didn’t extend beyond 1945.

The footpath finished at a church that catered for the children of its parishioners with a playground and a few conker trees. If St. Mary’s in Norton had done that I might have shown more of an interest in religion when occasionally dragged along as a child

With kick off approaching I made my way back to the ground. It was a lot busier than when I’d passed it half an hour or so earlier with people milling around at the entrance and queuing at the ticket office. I was searched as I went in and, as usual, had my temperature taken.

I’d bought my ticket for the outer edges of the main stand for a hundred rubles in advance online. This choice was also made with Covid in mind as the centre sections seemed such good value at two hundred rubles that I anticipated that area being more densely populated.

Once inside I was pleased to see that my plan had paid off and that the outer edges of the stand were near empty. I exercised a little more caution and ignored my seat in section F in favour of one further out in Section G. There were a few people nearby but nobody within ten feet or so of me.

Veles were in light blue with visitors Orenburg in white. From what I could glean about Veles, they had only been in existence for a few years and this was their first ever season in the dizzy heights of the second tier National League.

They started well, going a goal up after three minutes from a corner where one of the Orenburg centre-halves firmly directed a header past his own keeper. I’m convinced that Veles aimed for him at the next few set-pieces that they took.

Orenburg had chances to equalize in the rest of the first half but the home keeper pulled of a couple of decent saves to maintain his side’s lead at half-time.

I spent the interval watching the stewards performing their now familiar ‘whack-a-mole’ strategy of singling out someone in the crowd with his mask in his pocket or under his chin and after making it clear that it needed to be worn correctly would then move on to their next target only for the original fella to quietly return his mask to wherever it had been.

I probably bang on about this every time I write about a game but come on, how difficult is it to sit and watch a game with a mask on? You aren’t eating or exerting yourself. Just comply and do us all a favour.

Mask moving aside, the crowd didn’t get up too much. There were a small number of vocal Veles fans at the opposite end of the stand to me but they seemed to spend more time waving their flags than they did singing. If Orenburg had brought any fans I hadn’t noticed them at this stage.

There was a certain symmetry to the Orenburg equalizer, with it also coming from a header and three minutes into the half. Or would symmetry require it to be three minutes from the end of the half? Probably, but it’s written now. The goal revealed that I’d underestimated the presence of away fans with a few of them to my right in the centre section and more to my left, standing low down towards the front of the stand in what I suppose was probably the area set aside for them.

The highlight of the second half was a ball boy being fired for leaving the taped off protected area to retrieve a ball. Someone important, possible the stadium manager, marched over to give him a bollocking and to demand that he remove his fluorescent vest. The poor lad was then escorted to the tape and spent the remainder of the game watching sulkily from a distance.

And if that was the highlight, you had probably guessed that there were no more goals. Orenburg should have clinched the points, but with an easy goal on the cards a striker in an offside position couldn’t resist getting involved and caused the effort to be ruled out.

One-all was probably about right in the end.