DAVID SMITH - Monday, October 3, 2011
Josh Gatt and Molde took a huge step towards wrapping up the Tippeligaen title with a crucial win over challengers Tromsø while a draw between Hønefoss and Ham-Kam kept the promotion picture murky.
Stabaek IF 2 - 0 Sarpsborg 08 FF
Mikkel Diskerud played the full 90 minutes for Stabaek on Sunday afternoon, as they had little problems to beat relegation-bound Sarpsborg 08 FF.
With both relegation and a qualification for Europe likely well out of Stabaek' concern over their remaining games, the team was simply looking to end their four-game losing streak and give a strong ending to the season.
They took a first step towards that goal in the 29th minute, when Vegar Eggen Hedenstad received the ball from Pontus Farnerud approximately 30 yards from goal and rocketed a shot past the keeper for the lead.
They effectively put the game out of reach for Sarpsborg three minutes after the break, as Fredrik Brustad received the ball from Johan Andersson and dumped it off in front of goal in perfect position for Pálmi Rafn Pálmason to thunder it over the line for 2-0.
Sarpsborg were close to pulling one back in the 82nd minute when Glenn Roberts was first to a blocked shot, but his follow-up was cleared off the line before it could cause any potential late dramatics.
The win leaves Stabaek in ninth place, with little chance of dropping into the league's relegation spots or climbing up to European qualification over their final six games.
They have a two-week break for international play before paying a visit to Lillestrøm SK in mid-October.
Tromsø IL 0 - 2 Molde FK
Josh Gatt played the full 90 minutes for Molde at right back, as they moved one step closer to the Tippeligaen championship with a crucial win at Tromsø.
Molde defender Sean Cunningham was not included on the Molde bench for the game.
While Molde had a seven-point lead and momentum on their side heading into the game, they had to tread carefully as a loss would potentially open the door for both their Sunday opponents Tromsø and Rosenborg to close the gap over the final few games.
They left nothing to chance, opening the scoring in the 30th minute when Vegard Forren headed a corner from Magnus Wolff Eikrem through the legs of Tromsø defender Miika Koppinen and over the line for the lead.
This was doubled six minutes later in a stylish manner, with Mattias Moström playing a perfectly-timed through-ball into the box for Jo Inge Berget, who had slipped through the defense and had no problems to beat Tromsø keeper Marcus Sahlman in the one-on-one.
With a safe lead, Molde sat back more in the second half and concentrated on defending against the Tromsø pressure while trying to nick any counter-attack opportunities which arose.
Their tack was a successful one, as they easily prevented their hosts from creating any real danger, eventually having the win confirmed after 90 minutes.
The victory gives Molde a ten-point cushion in first place ahead of both Tromsø and Rosenborg, although the latter do have one game in hand. They will next take the field on October 16 against Odd Grenland.
Hønefoss BK 1 - 1 Ham-Kam
A dramatic last-second draw between Ham-Kam and Hønefoss on Sunday afternoon assured the Adeccoligaen promotion picture would remain murky.
Jonathan Borrajo went the distance in the defense for Ham-Kam while Steve Clark played the full 90 minutes in goal and Kenneth Di Vita Jensen was on the field for the first hour for Hønefoss.
Both teams brought heavy pressure in the opening 45 minutes, trading multiple chances but failing to actually put the ball into the net when it really mattered, with Ham-Kam keeper Ivar Rønningen several times denying the hosts.
A 56th-minute turnover by Hønefoss central midfielder Rune Bolseth opened the door to a swift Ham-Kam counter, however Tore Andreas Gundersen's shot from the edge of the area was straight at Clark.
As the game wore on without any score, Jensen was pulled at the hour mark in favor of Hønefoss danger-man Kevin Bosse Beugre, in hopes that the Ivorian striker could add another to his season total of ten goals.
Hønefoss finally battled to a late opener with nine minutes left in regulation, after Remond Macougne Mendy pulled down a long pass from the midfield just inside the left edge of the area and headed the ball down to Lennart Steffensen for an off-balance shot which bounced off the far post and over the line for what looked to be the winning goal.
Not to be outdone on late dramatics, Ham-Kam earned a 91st-minute equalizer, after late substitute Fredrik Sjølstad made a desperate chip from the left edge of the area towards the six-yard box, where Håkon Aalmen rose to head the ball, sending it just inside the far-post with a chance no-look header which gave Clark no chance even for a reaction.
The result leaves Ham-Kam in second place in one of the league's two promotion spots, although now they trail leaders Sandnes Ulf by two points. They next welcome Kyle Helton's Mjøndalen on Sunday.
Hønefoss fall to fourth place, two places and two points behind the promotion spots with four games remaining. If they hope to make the jump to the top flight, they will need to take all three points on their visit to Asker on Sunday.
Mjøndalen IF 2 - 2 Kongsvinger IL
Kyle Helton started and played the first 86 minutes for Mjøndalen on Sunday, as they fought back from a two-goal deficit to earn a point against visiting Kongsvinger.
Kongsvinger looked well on their way to a big win, already taking a commanding two-goal lead before the half.
In the 22nd minute, Ørjan Berg Hansen found Lars Gerson all alone 25 yards out from goal, and the latter launched a shot towards the corner which left Mjøndalen keeper Anders Rotevatn no chance to save.
Mjøndalen had a chance to equalize six minutes later Martin Rønning Ovenstad and Helton teamed up on a quick give-and-go in the area, but Ovenstad's shot was blocked before it could cross the line.
Kongsvinger then made them pay for their wastefulness, going up 2-0 two minutes before the half, when Magnus Solum headed in a corner from Samir Fazlagic.
An error by the visitors opened the door for the Mjøndalen rally, as Fazlagic toppled halftime substitute Bajram Ajeti in the area, giving Joachim Olsen Solberg the chance to pull one back with a successful spot kick to the lower right corner.
Helton was subbed out of the game with four minutes left as the hosts poured the pressure on for an equalizer, and they finally were successful two minutes later as a clearance in the Kongsvinger area popped straight up and eventually landed at the foot of Petar Rnkovic, who immediately struck it past the helpless Kongsvinger keeper Kim Deinoff to earn the point.
Mjøndalen remain tenth place with the draw, a relatively safe eight points ahead of the drop zone. They next visit Jonathan Borrajo and Ham-Kam on Sunday.
Sogndal backup keeper Joseph Bendik did not make it off the bench as his team drew even 2-2 at Fredrikstad on Sunday.
Colin Burns did not take the field on Sunday for Sandefjord's 2-1 home win over Strømmen IF.