DAVID SMITH - Monday, May 23, 2011
Josh Wicks and Mason Trafford helped Mariehamn knock off Finnish powerhouse HJK, while Daniel Stevens opened his scoring account for Kemi Kings in their win over HIFK.
IFK Mariehamn 2 - 0 HJK Helsinki
Josh Wicks and Mason Trafford both played the full 90 minutes for Mariehamn as they put together a fine performance on Sunday afternoon to score a shut-out win over reigning league champions HJK Helsinki.
Mariehamn defender Giuseppe Funicello was on the team's bench for the game but did not take the field.
After a fairly even yet scoreless first half, HJK came alive to start the second, continually testing Wicks and forcing a fine performance from the American.
Mariehamn's defensive tenacity paid off in the 69th minute, as Petteri Forsell hit a long free kick over the HJK wall and directly to the far post, where Nigerian youngster Ekhiabhi Okodugha was waiting to smack it in for 1-0.
Okodugha's fantastic day continued, as he bagged his second goal with seven minutes left in the game, finding himself the recipient of a low cross from Toni Lehtinen to near the post, which he struck confidently into the net for 2-0.
The win takes Mariehamn up to fourth place, and they will host KuPS on Thursday in their Finnish Cup semifinal match before hitting the road to face Vaasa PS three days later.
RoPS 3 - 4 Inter Turku
Etchu Tabe played the full game in the RoPS defense as they were on the losing end of an exciting goalfest against visiting Inter Turku.
Inter were first on the scoreboard after ten minutes, when a cross from the left side by Croatian forward Domagoj Abramović slipped through a crowd in the six-yard box and landed at the feet of Timo Furuholm, who tapped it in near the far post for 1-0.
RoPS equalized in the 47th minute as midfielder Tuomo Könönen took a crack at goal, which the Inter keeper managed to parry, however it fell straight into the path of Mika Lahtinen who powered it in at the right post for 1-1.
Furuholm then put Inter back ahead four minutes past the hour mark, latching onto a pass into the area from Mika Ojala and striking it in from the left side for 2-1.
RoPS again pulled even three minutes later as Zakaria Abahassine got on the tail end of a free kick from near the left corner with a flick into the net, however Inter would pull ahead - this time for good - in the 71st minute when Joni Kauko was on target with a towering header following a corner.
They added a fourth in the 77th minute to put any comeback out of reach when Severi Paajanen wrong-footed the keeper with a low shot from the top edge of the penalty area, and while Jose Manuel Rivera did pull one back for RoPS with five minutes left after he redirected a corner over the line, the final whistle eventually awarded all three points to the visitors.
The loss sees RoPS drop to seventh place, with their next contest in one week on the road against Haka.
AC Oulu 2 - 0 FC Lahti
Jeremy Vuolo started in AC Oulu's goal on Saturday, doing his part to help the team to an important 2-0 victory at home over FC Lahti.
Dritan Stafsula opened the scoring for the hosts after 39 minutes when he latched onto a good pass from Janne Hietanen, and lifted his shot over Lahti keeper Juha Tuomi for 1-0.
Oulu kept a tight defense throughout the second half, leaving Vuolo little work in goal, and the team added an insurance goal just before completion when a foul on Juha Majava in the penalty area allowed Stafsula to step up to the spot for his second goal of the afternoon.
The result pulls AC into second place, three points behind PK-35 Helsinki although with one game in hand. They next take on FC KooTeePee on Sunday.
HIFK 0 - 1 PS Kemi Kings
Daniel Stevens earned his keep for PS Kemi Kings on Sunday, netting the 56th minute winner for the team as they took all three points on their trip to HIFK.
HIFK were in control for most of the game, with Kemi largely limited to counter-attack opportunities as they absorbed the pressure.
They nabbed the one and only goal of the game thanks to their American midfielder, as some nice set-up work by his teammate Jan Bergin left Stevens with a clear line in front of goal, which he put away for the 56th minute winner.
The team's first win of the season brings them up to ninth place, with their next game at home on Sunday against FC Hämeenlinna.