DAVID SMITH - Thursday, June 2, 2011
A busy weekend in the Finnish Ykkönen sees both Daniel Stevens and Jeremy Vuolo face a second game in three days with their respective teams.
PS Kemi Kings - FC Espoo
Daniel Stevens will be in Kemi's starting lineup on Thursday afternoon, and will hope to help the team reverse their two-game losing streak when they hosts stumbling FC Espoo.
Kemi suffered their second straight 3-1 defeat on Thursday, succumbing to a second-half surge by league leaders FC Lahti.
The result left them mired in the relegation zone of the Finnish second tier, making Sunday's game of vital importance in their effort to avoid placing themselves in a difficult position early in the season.
To their credit, they have played one fewer game than much of the league, however they will need to find answers for a defense which has leaked an embarrassing six goals over their previous two games.
As their opponents Espooo are still winless and worst in the league in terms of both goals scored and conceded, anything less than three points for Kemi will be seen as a total failure on their part.
Kemi will be without forward Aki Karjula along with midfielders Jukka Yrjänheikki and Jani Kokkila due to injury, while Espoo are reporting a full squad.
AC Oulu - HIFK
Jeremy Vuolo and AC Oulu will be gunning for a second straight win on Sunday when they welcome HIFK on their home turf, with an eye on reaching the division's promotion spots.
Oulu were forcefully relegated to the Ykkönen after last season for financial problems within the club, and are hoping to be headed for a quick return after winning three of their first five games to reach third place.
Outside of their lone 2-0 loss last weekend, Vuolo and his defensive front have been formidable, allowing a single goal in four games otherwise, and still having the second-best overall defensive record in the league through five games.
They put on the performance of the season Thursday night, surging past FC Hämeenlinna with an impressive 4-0 score, and will hope that the momentum will carry them through Sunday's encounter with the division's seventh-placed team.
Oulu should have a full squad.
HIFK will be missing striker Daniel Antman and midfielder Samuli Markkasen to injury while American keeper Kellan Wilson is stateside for several weeks on personal matters.