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Monday, 26 October 2015

The Cherkizovo Report: Rostov 2 Lokomotiv 0

Two seasons ago in the penultimate game of the season, Lokomotiv was two wins away from the Russian Championship, but a trip to Rostov resulted in a 2-0 loss and the title chance was all but vanquished. Fast forward 17 months and the current Loko team had been on another incredible winning run, but an encounter with Rostov again halted the string of good results as the southerners prevailed 2-0 again, this time at Cherkizovo, on a night where Loko didn't play badly, but lacked cutting edge which perhaps is a result of their Europa League fatigue catching up with them.

After 19,000 strong for Besiktas, the stadium was as empty tonight as I've seen it all season. On this wet, Monday evening, perhaps 3,000-4,000 attended despite an announced crowd of 6380. Those on hand dedicated a couple songs to birthday boy and Loko legend Dmitry Sychev who turned 32 today.

Rostov coach Kurban Berdyev decided to replicate Spartak's failed plan from a week ago and played five defenders. Cherevchenko also played five defenders but moved one of them, Shishkin, up into a midfield position replacing the injured Tarasov. Myhalyk subbed for the out-of-action Pejcinovic and Jan Djurica was given his first start of the season in place of Corluka who was tired and had health problems according to the coach.

Loko controlled the first half and had the lion's share of the chances. Niasse personally hit one over the bar with a bicycle kick, banged another wide right, had a header saved by the keeper, and controversially had a goal disallowed because of a phantom foul on Novoseltsev. Sloppy Rostov defending resulted in an attempt for Yanbaev too who blazed one over the goal. Rostov's two most dangerous moments were blocked by a well-positioned Mykhalyk.

The Railwaymen started the 2nd half by picking up right where they left off and looking threatening, but completely against the run of play, it was Rostov who struck first in the 57th minute when a pass found Bukharov in the box and he laid it off to former Loko player Dmitry Poloz who put a gorgeous shot past Guilherme to give the visitors a surprise lead.
10 minutes before kick-off. Where are the fans?
Loko poured on the pressure again and brought on Miranchuk, Skuletic, and Grigoryev, but the closest they came was a long Denisov shot well-saved by Dzhanaev. Substitute Moussa Doumbia guaranteed all three points would go back to Rostov in the 85th minute when we was found wide open on the counter attack and didn't miss his chance to clinch the game.

This was our first home loss of the season and I suppose we had to lose eventually just to get it out of our system. Despite the loss, we'll stay in 2nd place with 27 points. It's not a disaster though and the team didn't play badly. They had their chances, but just couldn't convert at the opportune moments. Just an unlucky night. Fortunately, they'll have quick chance to atone for tonight's loss in the Cup match against Amkar on Thursday night.

Andy Tedrick

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