FIRST HALF FLURRY ENSURES VICTORY FOR UNITED
01 / 06 / 2016
3 goals in the first half was enough to see Riga United to a 3-2 victory.
Date published: 01/06/2016, 18:55
Amoko/02 2-3 Riga United FC
Riga United would have been happy with any kind of points against Amoko/02. To get a victory like they did, will have many promising signs and good experience for the players and coaching staff as both halves were very different games.
Riga United had a fantastic seven-minute spell in the first half, which saw them score 3 goals through different players. This now means of the 8 goals scored this season, 7 of them have come from different players. The first was scored by midfield workhorse Niels Krause. After having an earlier attempt, he squared up to take a free kick just outside the box and buried it beautifully in the bottom righthand corner of the goal on the 35th minute mark. It was six minutes later when on-form forward Jānis Pakalns was played through by a lovely ball from Krause and slotted home past the keeper for his second goal in two games. The third was somewhat of a surprise but nevertheless a superb goal, which came a minute later in the 42nd minute. Ervīns Perkons had gone down the left as he looked to get the ball, ran to the byline and played a superb cross into the box where Ede Schauer was on hand to leap up and head it in from the far post. Mo Awada was impressed with the goals, this is what he had to say: “The free kick from Niels is the best you will see this season, he also had a hand in setting up the goal for Janis, who coolly slotted in., the 3rd from Ede a header would you believe, a great cross from Ervins who I think had his best game in a RU shirt.”
The opening stages of the match was full of both teams testing each other. For Riga it was a case of settling down and looking to play their football. The first real chance however, went to Amoko/02, as a direct ball from midfield which beat the Riga United defender and was laid bare for the Amoko striker. It took a world class save from Man of the Match Graham Williams to tip it onto the bar and it was subsequently cleared.
Up until the first goal of the game in the 35th minute, it was a very even contest. The new look Riga United team still trying to get used to the (very) physical aspect of Latvian football. But it was more of a midfield battle with both sides looking to take control and for the most part nullifying each other out, each team had chances but nothing extremely dangerous. The goal changed everything though and put Riga on the front foot and opened up the base of the midfield and defence for Amoko. This allowed Riga to play their passing with ease and led to the second goal six minutes later. By half time Riga were in complete control and got their third.
For the second half both teams made personnel changes and for Amoko formational as they looked to flood and pressure higher up the pitch. Between the changes and the physical nature, Amoko found a way under Riga United’s skin, which has become all too common for teams and that’s to frustrate Riga with a physical style. Despite picking up two yellow cards in two minutes Amoko continued with that style of play and the pressure soon paid off. In the 58th min, Amoko got their first goal of the game as the under pressure defence gave away a penalty and it was put away.
It was dig-in-deep time for Riga United as Amoko had their tails up and Riga United couldn’t seem to find their rhythm. Goalie Graham Williams was called upon time and again and made some important stops. The game was very much in Riga United’s half for the remainder of the game.
Amoko were able to wear down Riga with the constant pressure and at times the United defence were at sixes and sevens. This included Amoko’s second goal. As the ball came out of the box in the 82nd minute, the Amoko player was left with time and space to take the ball and strike it past Williams. However, Riga United closed ranks as a team and dug deep just looking to clear the ball in the remaining 8 minutes, looking for some kind of counter. Amoko came close a few more times but between missed opportunities and fantastic saves from Williams, they were unable to find a way through.
As mentioned at the start, Riga United will take a lot from this game. A lot of it can be turned into positives. They again showed signs of playing the whole game and digging deep, certainly no one can fault the commitment of the players. The passing was much better and they looked switched on from the start. However, again a physical team found a way to distract Riga and it’s something the team will have to work on, as composure and positional play went out of the window towards the end.
Some noteworthy performances from Jānis Pakalns and Niels Krause. Jānis was in Mo Awada’s words “a real handful for them and offers us something different”. His strength and size is something United made full use of in this game and he has clearly shown again he can finish. Niels Krause has been a hard worker throughout the season thus far. His ability to see the play, work hard and pass the ball has helped Riga a lot.
Man of the Match: Graham Williams. Graham’s performance went a long way to United winning this match, most certainly keeping them in it when their backs were up against the wall. He made some phenomenal saves, more importantly made stops when United were heavily under pressure and commanded his area well. Mo Awada said of his performance: “Graham was outstanding, 3 world class saves, if you're keeper is in top form, it always gives you a chance.”
After the game, the RUSG caught up with Mo Awada’s reaction: “I asked for a reaction from the players and they delivered, they knew they had to up their game to win games in this league and that was made very clear to them. We changed the formation slightly, which helped us play on the counter. I was very pleased with the 1st half, we contained them well and took our chances. We did ride our luck a bit in the 2nd half, but we knew they would come at us and for the most part we held them well and could have even extended our lead on the break. We dug in deep, worked for each other and at the end got what we deserved. I'm proud of the lads, they worked hard and got their rewards. We need to now use this as a stepping stone to continue the good work and start putting more points on the board.”