DAVID SMITH - Thursday, June 23, 2011
The fourth round of the Norwegian Cup saw a trio of Americans in action, with Josh Gatt getting the start for Molde as they overcame Steve Clark and Hønefoss to reach the quarterfinals.
Molde FK 3 - 1 Hønefoss BK
Josh Gatt continued his spell in Molde's starting lineup, assisting on the team's first goal as they overcame an early deficit to down Hønefoss on Wednesday.
Steve Clark played the full 90 minutes in the losing effort for the visitors, and Norwegian-American forward Kenneth Di Vita Jensen struck early for Hønefoss's only goal of the game.
Molde defender Sean Cunningham did not take the field for the hosts.
Both teams headed into the game with momentum on their sides, riding four-game unbeaten runs in their respective leagues.
Molde's four straight wins had pulled them to the top of the Tippeligaen standings while a trio of wins and a draw had brought Hønefoss to within two points of the Adeccoligaen lead.
The start of the game saw three of four possible Americans on the field; Gatt filling in at right back as has been customary in Molde's recent games, Clark in goal as per usual for Hønefoss, and Jensen at the lead of the visitors' attack.
Jensen gave the Hønefoss traveling fans a sense of deja vu, putting his team barely after the opening whistle in a fashion similar to their third-round upset over Stabaek several weeks before.
Kevin Larsen lofted a cross from near the right edge of the Molde penalty area, which Jensen rose to head low and under the Molde keeper's reach for the third-minute lead.
Sensing a second straight Cup upset over a Tippeligaen heavyweight, Hønefoss fought to hold their lead though the remainder of the first half and much of the second, until they finally collapsed during the final 20 minutes.
Josh Gatt was the catalyst for the equalizing goal in the 72nd minute, finding space on the right side near the endline and hitting a cross which slipped through several defenders to the edge of the six-yard box where Davy Claude Angan was in perfect position to bring the game back on even terms with a header that left Clark no chance.
Molde then took the lead five minutes later, after a poor clearance fell at Pape Pate Diouf's feet to the left of goal, and the Senegalese forward one-timed his shot to the near post just past Clark's fingertips.
Diouf was again responsible for his team's third and final goal with five minutes left in the game, as he and Kristjan Örn Sigurdsson battled in the box for a long free kick from Magne Hoseth, which the Hønefoss defender errantly headed high and over Clark's reach for an own-goal.
With the win, Molde advance to the mid-August quarterfinal round, with their opponent yet to be determined. In the meantime, they will try to hold onto their one-point advantage atop the Tippeligaen standings when they visit 13th-place Odd Grenland.
Hønefoss will look to regroup from the loss and return their attention to their Adeccoligaen campaign, beginning with a Sunday-afternoon visit from Alta IF.
Joseph Bendik watched from Sogndal's bench as the team's backup keeper on Wednesday as they managed to draw Brann Bergen with a 2-2 score through 120 minutes, however eventually fell 3-2 in a final penalty shootout.