The opening game of the season for Js Hercules was an away trip to Kajaani to face Spartak. Both teams were no doubt aware of the significance of the match, but unpredictable May weather and unfortunate scheduling problems at Kajaanin liikuntapuisto seemed to affect the visitors' preparation. The match kicked off in cold weather which soon turned to snow, making any kind of attractive football a difficult proposition.
The home side's plan seemed to be to feed their wide players and swing in a series of crosses for Risto Putkonen to attack. Hercules was well aware of this Spartak game plan from their games last season and will be disappointed not to have dealt with it better, since it was on the fifth minute when Putkonen lost his defender and headed home a looping cross inside the six yard box. Worse was to follow, when five munutes later Hercules conceded again to make it 2-0.
This should have produced more of a reaction in the visitors, but it took until 26th minute when Tommi Päkkilä ran on to a through ball for Hercules to register their first shot. It was worth waiting for however, as Päkkilä turned inside the defender and finished from the edge of the area to make it 2-1. The momentum turned now to Hercules, who finished the half strongly but without creating any stand out chances. Hercules would have wanted to equalise before half time, but as it were teams headed to the break without further goals.
It was important to take charge of the game when second half kicked off, and Hercules had a decent start of it pressing Spartak back for the first minutes of the half. Soon the intensity dropped however, and a Spartak free kick into Hercules' box eventually struck the post. Then in the 67th minute, a deep cross from the left wing from Matti Luhtaniemi surprised Hercules keeper in difficult weather conditions, floating in at the back post. This took the wind out of Herku sails, and the team struggled to restore the momentum which had previously seen them take the game to Spartak.
The goal seemed to be enough for Spartak who dropped deep and narrow, letting Herkku keep the ball and countering when able. It was a three on three counter from which the home side struck the final nail, Ville Nikkanen scoring after a bounced ball was misread by Hercules defence. Viktor Kajdacsi popped up late to score the finest goal of the match with a well struck half-volley on 87th minute, after a mix-up between Spartak defence and goalkeeper and the match finished 4-2 to the home side. This was a disappointing start to the season for the visitors who will be looking to improve the results when taking on FC Kemi away in four days' time.
Spartak match report in Finnish at http://web.spartakkajaani.net/index.php/urheilu/jalkapallo/jalkapallo-otteluraportit/114.html