DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Michael Parkhurst and the Wild Tigers look to hold on to their advantage for a Danish Cup final berth while Jamil Fearrington and Roskilde will try to gain some distance above the drop zone.
Vejle BK - FC Nordsjælland
Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjælland have one foot in the Danish Cup final, however will need to protect their two-goal advantage in Vejle on Wednesday evening to book their ticket.
Nordsjælland saved it until late in last week's first leg at home, scoring two goals in the waning minutes to take a sizable 2-0 advantage to Vejle Stadium.
As away goals do tip the advantage in the semifinal, an early score by the Wild Tigers should effectively kill any chance Vejle have of coming back, likely leading head coach Morten Wieghorst to send his team onto the field in full attack mode from the start.
They have come to life at the ideal point in the season, going undefeated in their last six games overall, including a three-game streak in the league. While their current league standing is still has them residing just barely in the bottom half of the standings in seventh place, a close race in the middle of the pack in which third through eighth place are separated by a mere four points puts them squarely in the race for the final Europa League qualification spot.
The team most recently rode an inspired performance from former Werder Bremen youth player Andreas Granskov-Hansen to a convincing 3-1 win over SønderjyskE during the weekend, and will hope to see a similar spark from the Danish U-21 international against their First Division opponents.
Vejle have been in a general funk throughout the spring, with a run of three straight draws in the league, and their current eighth-place standing giving the team little hope of attaining their pre-season aim of promotion. The team has been forced to offload a trio of players to MLS during the spring, most recently Ghanian forward Ibrahim Salou and former Danish youth international Brian Nielsen both to Red Bull New York.
Nordsjælland Coach Morten Wieghorst will continue to be lacking the attacking presence of Sibusiso Zuma due to an ankle injury as well as backup keeper Nenad Novakovic thanks to a shoulder problem. Forward Andreas Laudrup and midfielder Søren Christensen also remain absent from the roster after missing the weekend's game with nagging injuries.
Vejle will be without American Euan Holden who is recovering from groin surgery, as well as Thomas Mikkelsen, Sedin Alic and Erik Marxen who are all struggling with injuries.
The winner of the semifinal will face either Midtjylland or Odense BK, with the former carrying a similar 2-0 advantage into Thursday's second leg in Odense.
FC Roskilde - Kolding FC
Jamil Fearrington and Roskilde face a potential relegation six-pointer on Wednesday when they square off against Kolding on Wednesday.
While currently sporting a four-point pad above the drop zone, the next few days could see Roskilde either take a huge step towards safety or fall back into the relegation battle, as they are facing off with the two teams directly below them in the standings.
Their first task will be to deal with 14th-place Kolding on Wednesday before hosting 15th-place Frem four days later, with the possibility of either finding themselves as many as ten points in the clear or down below the surface awaiting them at the end of the weekend.
While Sunday's 1-0 loss at Fyn saw them fail to pick up points for just the first time since the season re-start, Fearrington and his teammates are still seeing an encouraging turnaround in 2010, as they were undefeated in their five games prior, a tough run which included four straight against teams in the upper half of the standings.
Roskilde continue to be without a trio of midfielders, as Morten Avnskjold is still recovering from massive leg injuries suffered in the preseason, Stefan Schmidt is recovering from a knee injury and Nicolai Mikkelsen from a muscle strain. Additionally, forward Tobias Perch-Nielsen is still out after undergoing surgery on his meniscus.