RIGA FIGHT HARD BUT LOSE IN FRONT OF A FULL CAPACITY
12 / 04 / 2016
Riga United lost their opening game 5-1. However, this didn't change the electric atmosphere of the packed out stadium.
Publish date: 12/04/2015 - 16:50
Riga United 1-5 FK Liepāja
It was all set up; the crowd were in their places (what turned out to be a record, 190), the music playing, tv cameras on the Riga United Ladies for the opening game of the season. Then it was just done to, if the Ladies could create an upset. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Due to the middle 10 minutes in the first, where Liepāja picked up 3 goals. Still, the ladies will come away from this game with more experience and remembering the positives of what has been achieved not just gelling more as a team and fighting but the electric atmosphere and the great promotion to women’s football that this game has brought.
For the first 20 minutes of the game, both teams looked very even and it could have potentially gone either way with both having chances at either end and playing some nice football. But it took till the 25th minute before everything started to crumble. After a defensive mix up in the box with goalie, it just left Jeļena Tarasova to do what she is known for a find those spaces and it was 0-1 to Liepāja. Nobody had so much time as to take stock of what had happened when 2 minutes later it was 2-0 after a fierce free kick Alīna Šilova made it 2-0 in the 27th minute. For the next 10 minutes, Riga were on the backfoot and Liepāja were given space to come forward and attack, the heads seem to drop. And it took yet another mix up at the back for Sintija Greiere to find a free ball and shot home from around the penalty spot to give a comfortable 3-0 lead on the 36th minute mark.
Credit to Riga, the ladies kept on fighting and playing their game and trying to work the ball. Certainly something had clicked and they were looking very dangerous and the better team going into halftime, giving some hope to themselves and the fans.
Asked after the match about the game, manager Justin Walley said this about halftime “We changed things up at halftime and said we wanted a goal in the first five minutes of the second half to be back in the game.” The words at halftime rung true to form and in the 52nd minute, United were back in it. After some great build up play and a great cross from Liene Vāciete, it was up to debutant, Ronja Penkkala to lob the keeper with a great shot and give some life and some hope back in the game in the 52nd minute.
The move was to look more attacking and to go forward. They certainly did that for the next 20 minutes. A couple of close chances but they couldn’t find that final ball to the area. This was to come back as punish them, as Liepāja, who were very good on the counter with the Tarasova sisters took full advantage. In the 74th minute, it was effectively game over as they did just that and it was 4-1 when Liepāja got space and time to go forward and smash the ball home. There was nothing Riga could do after that, and they most certainly tried hard to fight but tired legs were there and it took over. Liepāja scored a 5th in the dying seconds of the game.
What went wrong?
In all fairness to Riga United, this was a slightly flattering result for Liepāja. They will absolutely be wondering how they got this result. For the best parts of the match, the teams were even and Riga were every bit as good as Liepāja. But Riga in the second half started panicking with the ball and looking to put it over the top when they had a lot more time and could pass it on the ground. Liepāja were just more consistent over the 90 [minutes] and with the attacking threat that Liepāja had, Riga needed to tighten up on them more.
However, it was a tough game and the ladies are still learning to gel. They did play pretty well and nothing should be taken away from that.
Looking to next game:
It doesn’t get any easier for Riga going into next week’s round of games, as they take on defending champions Rīgas FS. However, with the first game under their belt and the new team members knowing what to expect, with the experience of last year. This may well turn out to be a very interesting and positively surprising game. Justin Walley, will know doubt be looking at the positives from the previous home game.
What the manager said:
After the game the RUSG got hold of Walley for a quote, this is what he had to say: “"We started very comfortably and there wasn't much between the two teams for 30 minutes. But then we had that horrible ten minutes when the wheels came off and they scored three. On 50 minutes with Liene F, Tami and Liene combining to set up Ronja, who took her goal really well, Tony [Gandy] and I fancied our chances of getting back at them, at that point but that second goal didn't come and then Lea got that horrible dislocation injury and they grabbed that vital fourth which finished it. I think the scoreline was flattering to Liepaja, however, they were the better team over the 90 minutes. Despite the defeat and poor Lea's injury, we will remember the day for the incredible atmosphere in the stadium and the sense of unity in our club. We had the academy kids there as ball boys, the girls there leading the team out, their parents in the crowd, and then all the friends and new faces in the full stand cheering us on. Life is about experiences and happy memories, and that opening game atmosphere will live long in the memory"
Players of the Game:
The Fans’ player of the game goes to, Jevgenija Arzubova. She was fantastic on the right and worked the whole game, challenging and making it difficult for Liepāja to do anything on that side.
Player of the game: Ronja Penkkala. Walley had this to say "Despite the scoreline I actually thought there were a number of good performances. Four of the players particularly stood out for me but I am going to give the POG to Ronja, because it was her debut and she looked confident, didn't waste the ball, scored a great goal and almost set up a couple for her teammates."