DAVID SMITH - Friday, August 12, 2011
Josh Gatt should be in Molde's starting eleven as they try to progress to the final four of the Norwegian Cup while Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek look to continue their upwards trend with a fourth straight win.
Fredrikstad FK - Molde FK
With a five-point lead atop the Norwegian Tippeligaen, Josh Gatt and Molde will temporarily turn their attentions towards the Norwegian Cup, where they face a tough quarterfinal battle in Fredrikstad on Sunday.
Molde defender Sean Cunningham should be included on the team's bench for the game.
Molde have been on fire over the last two months, notching win after win to build a comfortable lead ahead of second-place Brann in the race for the Tippeligaen title.
Even though they have never lifted the league trophy in more than 100 years of existence, they are in a position to capture a historic double, and can take a huge step towards that feat by beating Fredrikstad on Sunday.
These two teams already met once this season, with Molde coming away 2-1 victors in a mid-May league meeting. Current would seem to slightly favor the squad of Ole Gunnar Solskjær, as they come into the game having won five of their previous six, with the lone loss coming at the hands of Rosenborg last weekend.
Fredrikstad have had a more inauspicious season, sitting near the middle of the standings in tenth place, closer to the relegation zone than the European spots, and are struggling quite a bit as of late with three losses in four putting them in danger of a nervy final third of the season.
Molde are not reporting any injuries while Fredrikstad could be without on-loan all-rounder Andreas Landgren as the team awaits his international paperwork from parent club Udinese to clear. In addition, midfielder Erik Ramberg and defender Jan Tore Ophaug are both questionable after missing last weekend's game with slight injuries.
Stabaek IF - Strømsgodset IF
Stabaek midfielder Mikkel Diskerud will try to help his team's attack continue clicking on Saturday when they host Strømsgodset IF in league action.
Stabaek have broken well free of a slump which had temporarily sent them towards the lower half of the league standings, rolling off three straight wins to climb up to seventh.
Should they ride this trend to a fourth in Saturday's battle with fifth-place Strømsgodset, they would jump at least one, if not several more, spots in the standings, and put themselves back into contention for Europa League play.
Standing in their way is a resilient Strømsgodset team which, aside from a fairly decisive defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid in Europa League qualifying, has been consistent in league play this season, and is currently on their own three-game unbeaten run.
Neither team is reporting any absences for the game.
FK Bodø/Glimt - Hønefoss BK
Steve Clark will be manning the Hønefoss goal on Sunday at Bodø/Glimt when they try to keep the engines running after last weekend's huge win.
Hønefoss' six-goal output last weekend against relegation-bound Randaberg kept the team in the thick of the Adeccoligaen title race. Through 18 games, they are only three points back of the division lead, holding a slight advantage in goal differential over all of their opponents.
Their game on Sunday pits them against another team with hopes of reaching the Tippeligaen, as Bodø/Glimt are just two points back of Hønefoss, and carrying quite a bit of momentum into the game with a streak of four without defeat.
The only other meeting between these two teams this season was a 3-2 shootout in mid-June favoring Clark and his compatriots, and Sunday's game could very well be another high-scoring affair.
Hønefoss currently stand as the league's second-best on the attack, scoring 35 goals through 18 games, and developed the knack for offensive explosions with 14 scored in their last four.
Hønefoss will have Kevin Larsen back in the lineup after the defender was forced to sit last weekend due to card accumulation, and Bodø/Glimt will also have a full squad available for the game.
Bryne FK - Ham-Kam
Jonathan Borrajo will be patrolling the right side of Ham-Kam's defense on Monday night as they try to break out of their recent funk on their trip to Bryne FK.
It's been a season of all-or-nothing for Ham-Kam, opening the season with a six-game winless streak, then proceeding to run off seven straight wins, before settling into their current five-game streak without full points.
They have avoided complete collapse during this most recent trend as four of the games have ended in draws, but they have slipped from first place down to sixth during this time, and are a full six points off of the lead heading into the weekend.
Bryne held the advantage when these two first met in early-May, jumping out to an early lead and coming away 2-1 victors in the end.
If Borrajo and his teammates want to make a case for promotion to the Tippeligaen, they will need to exact some measure of revenge on Monday night, otherwise they could see their chances slip further away.
Ham-Kam's recent inability to win hasn't been entirely dull; they have scored at least two in each of the four even results, but have lacked the ability to shut down opposing teams when it matters.
Neither team has any injuries to report.
Kyle Helton will hope to be on Mjøndalen's bench on Sunday when they visit Løv-Ham in Adeccoligaen action.
Colin Burns and Sandefjord are out of action this weekend, and will face their next game on Sunday, August 21 when Bodø/Glimt come to visit.