Monday, July 29, 2013

Veikkausliiga week 21 - HJK leave it late

After a pretty poor week for Finnish football, with HJK and Honka's European defeats meaning the end of Finnish involvement with UEFA before the end of July, league festivities resumed with matches on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.


After three matches without a win (including both Champions League ties), HJK couldn't have asked for a different fixture - at home against bottom side JJK. But they made hard work of it. Some nice passages of play, plenty of chances created, but poor finishing could have cost them dear. In the end, goals from Demba Savaga (80 mins) and sub Joel Perovuo (90 mins) won them the points.

JJK's total socks didn't work

Highlights of HJK 2-0 JJK

HJK remain second in the table, with 40 points from twenty matches. JJK are twelvth, with seventeen points from 20 games.

Lahti 0-1 Honka

Going out of the Europa League with a decent performance, but a 2-5 aggregate defeat, Honka were looking for a result against the team in 11th. But they travelled to Lahti without injured Méïté, Yaghoubi and Väyrynen. An early goal from Kastriot Kastrati (18') sealed the points, and it was a hard earned win for the leaders. Lahti meanwhile confirmed that on-loan keeper Jesse Joronen would be returning to Fulham at the end of his loan.

Happy Honka celebrate (in white)

Highlights of Lahti 0-1 Honka

Honka are top of the table, with 42 points from 21 games. Lahti are eleventh, with 21 points from 20 matches.

Inter 2-2 KuPS

Inter were without a home win in six. KuPS without an away win in six. Of course this was going to be a draw. An early Gruborovics penalty (5') gave Inter the lead, but it was spectacularly equalised by Aleksi Paananen (19'). Sirbiladze pounced on a keeper error to slot home after a Bouwman shot, restoring the lead (31'), before a second half goal from Dawda Bah (67') ensured the game ended 2-2.

Highlights of Inter 2-2 KuPS

Last year's runners-up Inter are tenth, 23 points from 21 matches. KuPS are sixth with 26 points from 21 games.

Jaro 2-1 VPS

The big Ostrobothnia derby was built up, and alas saw Jaro keeper Jesse Ost harassed by VPS fans in the build up. The match itself saw two goals for Shahdon Winchester, his impressive debut season now showing seven goals for his trouble. The first was a neat finish on 4mins, the second on 79mins was from an acute angle. A late consolation from Jordan Seabrook meant little in the end.

Highlights of Jaro 2-1 TPS

Jaro are fourth in the table, with thirth points from 20 games (they had 33 in the whole of 2012). VPS are third, with 32 points from 20 matches.


A first away Veikkausliiga win since October 2011 (excusing a year in the second tier) for RoPS mean they go above with MYPA in the table - a third minute headed goal from Faith Obilor was successfully defended, and MYPA's good start is going to waste.

Highlights of MYPA 0-1 RoPS

MYPA are down to ninth place, with 26 points from 20 matches. RoPS go up to eighth, with 26 points from 21 games.

IFK Mariehamn 2-0 TPS

Topsy-turvy seasons for both teams, and it was Mariehamn who needed two late goals to win. They debuted Brazilian midfielder Bernado Ribeiro, but it was sub Kris Bright's 83rd minute goal (his eighth of the season) and new boy Tomas Hradecky's first goal (88') that sealed the points, and TPS to a sixth league match without victory.

Highlights of IFK Mariehamn 2-0 TPS

IFK Mariehamn are now up to fifth, with 28 points from 21 games. TPS drop below them, and are in sixth place with 27 points from 19 matches.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Out of Europe - Who beat the Finns?

After all the build-up, the excitement, and the waiting from October until now... Each Finnish club who entered European competition for 2013/14 were eliminated after one tie. Some did ok, others just didn't turn up. Here's a quick summary of their (short) campaigns.

HJK - Champions League qualifying round two

New HJK coach Sixten Boström took over at the end of 2012, with the brief to reach the group stage of either UEFA competition. HJK drew Estonian champions Nõmme Kalju in the second qualifying round, and put in two pretty tepid performances, and were duly eliminated. The first leg, in Helsinki, ended 0-0, while Kalju won 2-1 in Tallinn, and go through to round three, where even elimination will be rewarded with a Europa League play-off.

Kalju's Ceesay celebrates his goal against HJK

There has been much speculation to what will happen to HJK - at the time of writing, they're second in the table but have rarely looked fluid, while the big name signings of Teemu Tainio and Mikael Forssell haven't really clicked. Boström will surely be given the rest of the year at least to ensure a fifth straight Veikkausliiga title... But the pressure he complained of will now be even greater. Meanwhile, Kalju will play Czech title-holders Plzeň.

Inter Turku - Europa League qualifying round one

Last year's runners-up had gone through a rotten period in the league, and continued it into Europe. A 1-1 draw in the Faroe Islands against Vikinur was followed by a 0-1 defeat in Turku. But there was plenty of controversy.

Bouwman had a chance to level from the spot

Before the second leg, huge sums were traded on Betfair that both teams would score, far more than for a normal game. Both teams were awarded penalties in the second half, for fairly innocuous incidents. But Vikingur scored theirs, while Inter's Pim Bouwman missed. Inter eliminated, and lodged a complaint with UEFA, but it won't make any difference. Vikingur lost 0-7 on aggregate to Romanian side Petrolul in the second round.

TPS - Europa League qualifying round one

Again suffering an inconsistent start, TPS had finished 2012 in third place, and with it a spot in Europe. They were drawn against Luxembourg's Jeunesse Esch, and on paper it seemed like a good draw. It was the away trip to the Grand Duchy where the foundations were laid.

Chinese midfielder Wang (green), who scored two goals against TPS

A 2-0 defeat, and a shoddy performance, set the tone. Even a 2-1 home win was rendered useless, where Wayne Brown also missed a penalty. TPS exited after a 2-3 aggregate defeat, and Jeunesse were knocked out in the next round by Latvian club Ventspils, 1-5 on aggregate.

IFK Mariehamn - entered Europa League at qualifying round one

Mariehamn won their place in Europe thanks to the Fair Play route, and certainly made a big deal of their first foray into continental football. They were drawn against Azerbaijan's Inter Baku, a huge journey. They made the trip, but it proved costly - in a 1-1 draw, they lost key players Diego Assis and Dever Orgill for the season, after fouls from Baku defender Bruce Abdoulaye (dubbed the Butcher of Baku).

From the first leg in Baku

With the away goal, they returned to Åland with hope of a famous victory - but a 0-2 home defeat meant they left after just one home game. Mariehamn played well in parts, and showed plenty of spirit. But shorn of their two key attacking threats (they were already without Petteri Forsell), the rest of 2013 will be a struggle. Inter Baku lost 1-2 on aggregate to Norwegians Tromsø in round two.

FC Honka - Europa League qualifying round two

The 2012 Suomen Cup winners entered at round two - and were given a difficult task against Poland's Lech Poznań. The first leg was played in Vantaa (due to UEFA's ground regulations), however that was overshadowed by some naughty behaviour from the Lech fans, while the Police were accused of being over-zealous, which has started a debate about the cost of policing football. Lech won the first leg 1-3.

Not pictured - the ball

The second leg in Poland started with a bang - Honka keeper Viitala was recklessly fouled in the box after four minutes, two yellow cards were dished out, Lech scored, and Honka equalised - all before the eighth minute. A second Lech goal before half-time was the final one, and it ended Lech 2-1 Honka (5-2 agg) in front of over 15000 people. Honka did well, some neat play and committed defending, but the gap in quality was apparent. Lech progress to a third round tie against Žalgiris of Lithuania.


By exiting at the first time for each club, Finland's UEFA co-efficient has already taken a big hit. Bosnia-Herzegovina have overtaken the Finns, while Kazakhstan and Iceland's representatives have improved their rankings. If the 2014/15 competitions have the same number of entrants (accounting for competition winners), Finland will lose a second round place for the cup winners.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Veikkausliiga week 20 - Honka go clear

Due to the unusually hot London weather, I've not got much time this week to do the usual review. Hopefully normal service will resume next week, along with the usual wind and rain etc... I'll upload videos as they become available.

Just a quick point - I appreciate it's weird having week 20, when some teams have played 18 and 19 games. The remaining fixtures from week one will be played on Weds 31st July.

Honka 1-0 KuPS

A 48th minute goal from Rubén Palazuelos sent Honka clear at the top of the table. Utrecht coach Jan Wouters was present in Tapiola, who was he watching? KuPS coach Esa Pekonen described their performance as 'uneven'. Honka have 39 points from 20 games, two clear of HJK. KuPS are seventh, with 25 points from 20 matches.

Honka score Palazuelos (photo via Leena Koskela)

Highlights of Honka 1-0 KuPS

TPS 2-2 Jaro

TPS went 2-0 up inside an hour, goals from Aleksi Ristola (27') and Petteri Pennanen (59'). But Jaro remembered that they're a good team this year, and a brace from Jonas Emet (61' and 88') gave the visitors a point. TPS remain fifth, with 27 points from 18 games, a GD of +2. Jaro are fourth, 27 points from 19 matches, GD +6.

TPS doubling up on Shahdon Winchester

Highlights of TPS 2-2 Jaro

Lahti 2-1 IFK Mariehamn

Sunday's televised game saw lots of chances, but it was Lahti who scored the vital ones. They took the lead through Vini Dantas (19'), but Mariehamn hit the bar twice through Adlam and Bright. Bright then equalised on 69 minutes, before Hertsi scored a winner (75'). Lahti remain 11th, with 21pts from 19 games, but are only one point behind Inter. IFK Mariehamn are 8th, with 25 points from 20 matches.

Vini Dantas happy with his goal (photo via ESS)

Highlights of Lahti 2-1 IFK Mariehamn

Friday night in Vaasa looked like being a drama - MYPA scored in the first half, totally against the run of play, the goal from Olajide Williams (19'). But VPS fought back in the second half, goals from Koskimaa (65'), Kerr (75') and two from captain Sebastian Strandvall (84 and 90') meant VPS remain on the podium. They are third, with 32 points from 19 matches. MYPA are sixth, 26 points from 19 games.

Happy VPS skipper Strandvall (photo via Arash Matin)

Highlights of VPS 4-1 MYPA

JJK 2-0 Inter

It's been a shocking 2013 for both clubs. But at least JJK had a good Sunday - a penalty from Poutiainen (48') and a goal from substitute Hilska (88') mean JJK remain in touch with Lahti, five points behind Inter and with a game in hand. Inter have won one league match in ten, and have only scored three goals. JJK are bottom, but have 17 points from 19 games. Inter are tenth, with 22 points from 20 matches.

Mikko Innanen keeps Aspegren at bay (photo via Tuomas Sarparanta)

Highlights of that game can be found here, via the KSML website.

RoPS 0-0 HJK

RoPS had kept clean sheets in 6 of their last 8 home league games. They made it 7 games with a resolute display, helped by a tepid HJK who had one eye on Tuesday's Champions League match against Kalju in Estonia. RoPS are ninth, with 23 points from 20 games. HJK drop to second, 37 points from 19 games, two points behind Honka.

Maanoja foils Forssell (photo via Jussi Leinonen)

Highlights of RoPS 0-0 HJK

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Introducing Lech Poznań - Honka's European opponents

Honka open their Europa League campaign this week in the second qualifying round, where they meet Polish club Lech Poznań - runners up in last year's Ekstraklasa (Polish top division). The first leg in Finland, will be played on Thursday 18th July. The return leg in Poland will be played on Thursday 25th July.

Friend of the site Ryan Hubbard, founder of the superb EKSTRAKLASAreview website, has written a fine preview of Honka's opponents for us to read before (during and after!) the tie. He has also hosted a short preview of Honka that I wrote for his site, have a look here.

Welcome to Manchester Poznań

After a sluggish start to to 2012/13 season, perennial challengers picked themselves up quickly to battle their greatest enemies Legia Warszawa for the Polish Ekstraklasa title. With around a month of the season remaining the Kolejorz had already guaranteed at least a European spot, however a 1-0 Matchday 28 defeat in Warsaw effectively handed the title to their rivals.

With their runners-up spot confirmed with a few games to spare, Lech enter European competition for the fifth time in the last six years - only their fifth-placed finish in 2010/11 preventing them from taking part the following season. Whilst their domestic season wasn't the greatest in 2010/11, they will be aiming to replicate their Europa League campaign from that year. On their way to a last-32 defeat to eventual finalists Braga, they managed fantastic wins against both Red Bull Salzburg and Manchester City, whilst twice holding Juventus to a draw.


By far the strongest part of the current Lech Poznań team is their vast midfield. With coach Mariusz Rumak expected to field five men across the middle, they can be difficult to break down whilst able to create a lot of chances both for themselves and the strikers.

With Hungarian Gergo Lovrencsics and Finnish Kasper Hämäläinen netting ten between them last term, Lech have strengthened their attacking prowess with the addition of Zagłębie Lubin winger Szymon Pawłowski - a more than adequate replacement for Aleksander Tonev, who departed for Aston Villa.

Whilst defensive midfield pair Rafał Murawski and Łukasz Trałka may not have had their strongest season, they are still a very formidable pair - both finding their way into Polish national squads over the last eighteen months.  Rumak also has the option to include Polish youth prodigy Karol Linetty in his middle five - the eighteen year-old led the Polish U17 side to third-place in last year's European Championships.

Finland international Kasper Hämäläinen


The problem for Lech is that their strikers have been known to struggle when it comes to converting chances. Whilst Łukasz Teodorczyk scored a hatful in autumn at Polonia Warszawa, his winter move didn't quite yield the same results. In the capital, Teodorczyk played the role of a support striker excellently - grabbing almost as many assists as he did goals. However since his move to Poznań, he has been played in a lone striker role - and the difference showed. But after scoring his first Lech goal late in the season, we have seen more glimpses of the Teodorczyk which earned a call-up to the Polish National team. A hat-trick in a friendly against Danish side FC Nordsjaelland just last week confirming that "Teo" hasn't lost his abilities.

Whilst Teodorczyk's first goal in the blue shirt brought a much needed confidence boost, his fellow striker Bartosz Ślusarski needs more than confidence. Despite netting __ league goals last term, he was widely thought of as one of the weakest strikers in the league. With the amount of chances both self-created and handed to him, Ślusarski could have scored many more, and the signing of Teodorczyk only went to show that Ślusarski's goal record alone wasn't enough for Mariusz Rumak.


Whilst Lech have been struggling to field a full side during their pre-season friendlies, they can now count on the return of six players for the tie with Honka. Along with the aforementioned Ślusarski and Linetty, Kebba Ceesay, Tomasz Kędziora, Patryk Wolski and Szymon Pawłowski should all be available for the first leg.

However there are still a few doubts in the Kolejorz camp; Barry Douglas, Rafał Murawski and Luis Henriquez all look set to miss at least one of the two meetings.


Jasmin Burić 
Hubert Wołąkiewicz, Marcin Kamiński, Manuel Arboleda, Kebba Ceesay
 Łukasz Trałka, Mateusz Możdżeń 
Gergo Lovrencsics, Kasper Hämäläinen, Szymon Pawłowski
Łukasz Teodorczyk

Veikkausliiga week 19 - Jaro in seventh heaven

After a humiliating week in the Europa League, where all three Finnish clubs were eliminated at the first round (TPS, Inter and IFK Mariehamn), normal service resumed this weekend. Apologies for the delay, I went to see Book of Mormon on Monday...

Jaro 7-1 Lahti

Saturday afternoon saw a complete drubbing in Pietarsaari, and Jaro finally putting some of their recent good play to devastating use. Things got underway after nine minutes, with Markus Kronholm slotting home a deep cross from the right. Ten minutes later, Canadian striker Frank Jonke got his name on the scoresheet, heading in a free kick. It wasn't his only contribution...

Jonke flies in (photo via Markuu Jokela)

Lahti had a chance to halve the deficit straight after but Kullström cleared off the line. Jonke rounded off the first half latching onto a through-ball, and pushing the ball past Joronen with his first touch. He then completed his hat-trick after 58 minutes, firing in neatly. A minute later, Jonas Emet's lovely finish capped off a nice move, making it 4-0 on the hour. Chief creator Hendrik Helmke turned finisher, poaching a pass from Jonke after 72mins.

Jonke with his hat (photo via Jaro's Twitter)

Lahti pulled a goal back with 12 minutes remaining, Vini Dantas lashing home from the edge off the box. But there was still time for drama - Kullström stumbled when trying to receive a pass, and when Rafael pounced on the ball, and was prompted hacked down on the edge of the area as he was turning towards goal. The red card promptly followed, his second of the season. Jonke scored his fourth, and Jaro's seventh in the 87th minute, heading in another Helmke free kick.

Highlights of Jaro 7-1 Lahti

Jaro move up to fourth, with 26 points from 18 games. Lahti remain 11th, with 18 points from 18 matches.


The weekend had opened with first playing third - leaders HJK hosted VPS for the second time this season (VPS won the fixture 0-2 in May). The visitors were without key players Dafaa and Parikka, while HJK were fresh from a week off, after their match against TPS was postponed.

The second goal flies past VPS keeper Sillanpää

Any fears of a similar result were dispelled by the champions, thanks in main to two stunning strikes. The first was from an unlikely source, Sakari Mattila smacking in from 25 yards out, just before half time. A second goal wasn't far away, eight minutes into the second period. Rasmus Schüller scored a fantastic half volley from outside the box after VPS failed to cleared a corner. Two-nil up, and VPS's plan had gone to pot. A coolly taken finish from sub Mikael Forssell in injury time sealed the points.

Forssell makes it three (photo via Nikolai Alho's Instagram)

VPS lost another key player, Henri Sillanpää was injured in a clash with Nikolai Alho in the second half, and had to be replaced. At the time of writing, there's no word on how serious his knee problem is. The result was good preparation for HJK's opening Champions League qualifier against Estonians Nõmme Kalju on Wednesday.

Highlights of HJK 3-0 VPS

HJK remain top with 36 points from 18 games, with a goal difference of +22 (ahead of Honka), VPS are third, with 29 points from 18 games.

IFK Mariehamn 1-4 Honka

Mariehamn had suffered hugely in the last ten days - losing Diego Assis and Dever Orgill for the season, and being elminated from Europe at the first attempt.

Honka on the defensive (photo via Peter Eriksson)

They did take the lead in this match, Pekka Lagerblom's Gascoigne-esque volley on 13 minutes. But it served to wake Honka - Tim Väyrynen equalised on 36mins after a move starting with the keeper, to make it 1-1 at half time. Henri Aalto then gave the visitors a spectacular lead 11 mins into the second half from the edge of the area, quickly followed by a goal from Kastriot Kastrati. Väyrynen scored again with 15 minutes to go from a Baah cross, catapulting himself to (at that point) joint top of the scoring charts, level on eight goals with Orgill.

Highlights of IFK Mariehamn 1-4 Honka

IFK Marehamn are now eighth, with 25 points from 19 games. Honka open their Europa League campaign on Thursday, and they are joint top with HJK, with 36 points from 19 matches, but a GD of +8.

KuPS 2-1 JJK

JJK had spent much of the last week in the press for the wrong reasons. Still bedding in with a new coach, it was revealed last week that they'd need to raise 100,000 EUR in order to keep going. At the time of writing (Tuesday), they'd reached the halfway point, with four weeks to spare. Some of their fellow Veikkausliiga clubs had helped out - but rivals KuPS weren't in a charitable mood.

Crazy dancing (photo via Vartaloharhautus)
KuPS had the freedom of their left wing for the majority of the first half, Gambian defender Omar Colley crossing the ball in with alarming regularity. With 15 minutes gone, Ilja Venäläinen got on the end of a Colley cross and beat the keeper at the near post. KuPS created chance after chance, mostly down the left, but a combination of poor finishing and reckless final balls meant it stayed 1-0 until the last minute, when Chris James handled in the area. JJK sub Eero Korte stepped up and scored the penalty, and everyone thought JJK had secured a vital point.

Ketsbaia? (photo via Vartaloharhautus)

But Venäläinen had other ideas - in the 92nd minute, he played the ball out to the left (again), and got on the end of the resulting cross to score his ninth goal of the season, taking him top of the Maalikuningas chart. KuPS had won, and crushed their rivals in the process.

Highlights of KuPS 2-1 JJK

KuPS move up to seventh, with 25 points from 19 matches. JJK remain stuck at the bottom, with fourteen points from 18 games.


After being knocked out of Europe by Luxembourg's Jeunesse Esch on Tuesday, midfielder Wayne Brown said "we have to make it up in the league and push for the title". They took on a MYPA side with one win in six - and TPS lost again.

Midfielder Jonathan Okafor's first goal of the season gave the hosts the lead on 36 minutes lashing home while virtually unmarked, before Pekka Sihvola's first goal in nine games on the stroke of half-time made it 2-0. TPS got a consolation in injury time, MYPA sub Patrick O'Shaugnessy unfortunately poking in while trying to defend a cross.

 Highlights of MYPA 2-1 TPS

MYPA leapfrog TPS with that win, moving up to fifth with 26 points from 18 games, a GD of +2. TPS have 26 points from 17 games with a GD of +2, but have scored fewer goals.

Inter 0-0 RoPS

Inter complained to UEFA after their defeat to Vikingur on Thursday, amid strange betting patterns in relation to the 'both teams scoring' market. There was little danger of that happening on Sunday. Inter had only scored three goals in their last nine league games, while RoPS had scored four times in nine away league matches.

If I had a few extra quid, I'd have put it on this being a 0-0. Sorry, but I don't think I'll bore you with highlights or a photo. Inter are tenth, with 22 points from 19 games. RoPS are ninth, also on 22 points from 19 matches, but with a slightly better goal difference. Phew.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Save JJK! Buy a jersey! (Or other merchandise)

I'll admit it. I'm a KuPS fan. My wife is from Kuopio. My first Veikkausliiga game was KuPS 1-2 Honka in 2008. I own a KuPS shirt.

But there is something is going on down the road in Jyväskylä - JJK (Jyväskylän Jalkapalloklubi) are in deep financial trouble, and they're attempting to raise money just to try and complete the league season. They need to raise €100k by August 15th to complete the season, and to provide a foundation to build on in the future.

Help to save JJK!

The club are selling a number of items of merchandise in order to raise funds, including stickers, posters, signed player jerseys and scarves.

I've spoken to the club, and have found that the club's Nike fan jerseys can be purchased overseas - and I'll be buying one. This isn't a Real Oviedo style ownership model, but what better way to spread the word that you supported a struggling club? 

Home (burgundy) and away (pink)

Buy an adult JJK shirt for just €40 (plus €6 for postage, so a total of €46 = about £39) - wear it when playing 5-a-side, or at the gym, or just because you like the colours. Do something! Scarves are also €20 (plus postage extra).

If you're interested in purchasing a jersey (or anything else for that matter), let me know via the usual contacts. JJK are posting regular updates on Twitter with how they are getting on.

JJK are a quarter of the way there - they need your help.


Update 24/07/2013 - JJK have since raised €60k in two weeks, so well over half-way there. I've managed to establish that if buying the shirts from abroad, a bank transfer is required. Rather than expensive IBAN transfers via banks, TransferWise works very much like Paypal, and is a lot cheaper (and legit).

The person at the club I have been dealing with (Sanna) has been incredibly helpful, and hopefully you can help.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Veikkausliiga week 18 - Wins for the bottom four

Spread over three days, and with one match postponed, round 18 of fixtures was a mish-mash - but both teams who weren't involved benefitted from the results at the top of the table. Amazingly the bottom four teams all won.

VPS 1-2 Inter

VPS missed a huge chance to close the gap on HJK, chucking away an early lead against a struggling Inter, who'd had a long trip to the Faroes in midweek for their Europa League qualifier (they drew 1-1 with Vikingur).

Inter hero Sirbiladze - but should he have been playing (photo via Inter's Twitter)

A nineteenth minute goal from Ville Koskimaa set the ball rolling, and 2013's VPS could normally bank on seeing out a 1-0 lead. But a tired Inter fought back, and it was Georgian striker Irakli Sirbiladze who made the difference, with two goals in ten minutes before half-time - but should he have been playing?

Sirbiladze and Smith clash heads (photo via Arash Matin)

In Sirbiladze's previous league match, he was injured in the first half, and allegedly said "After football, I will kill you" to the referee at the break, and was sent off. He got a two match ban for the straight red, and the Finnish FA gave him an extra one match ban for the threat. Needless to say that has caused outrage, with people wondering about the message it sends out regarding the 'Respect' campaign. Either way, he returned with two goals, and Inter will be grateful that last year's Veikkausliiga maalikuningas (goal king) has hit some form.

Highlights of VPS 1-2 Inter

VPS remain in third, with 29 points from 17 games. Inter are tenth with 21 points from 18 matches.

JJK 1-0 Honka

This was JJK's first match under new coach Juha Pasoja, and what a start. Inflicting Honka's first defeat in six, damaging their medal hopes as well. Honka went into the game without key defender Gideon Baah, serving a one-match ban. But they started well, they had several chances, but couldn't convert any of them. 

JJK celebrate (photo via Laura Hakalisto)

They were made to pay in the second half, JJK had a number of set pieces, and made one count with six minutes remaining. Substitute Topi Järvinen snuck in to meet a free kick and bundle it in. The game ended 1-0, and with the other results, a win was crucial in their attempts to avoid relegation. Meanwhile, JJK get a brief diversion this week, they play English League One club Notts County on Wednesday, as part of County's Finland pre-season tour.

Highlights of JJK 1-0 Honka

JJK are still bottom of the table, but now have fourteen points from seventeen matches, and remain four points behind Lahti. Honka remain second, level on 33 points with HJK (18 games), but missed a crucial chance to open a lead with HJK not in action.

Lahti 3-0 MYPA

Monday's game saw Lahti back in black at home, and it was in-form Brazilian Rafael who led them to another victory. Lahti had won three of their last four games, after losing seven out of nine. MYPA meanwhile had only won one game in five, after a decent start to the season.

Rafael celebrates again (photo via Juha Peurala)

Rafael had scored four in his last four games - and added two more here. The first involved nice work down the right wing by Joni Aho, with Rafael's effort taking a large deflection into the net after just four minutes. Beating the keeper and slotting the ball into the empty net on the hour gave him (and Lahti) a second goal. Debutant Jean Nganbe Nganbe capitalised on poor defending to round it off in injury time, and make it Lahti 3-0 MYPA.

Video highlights availabile here, via

The result keeps Lahti in eleventh place, with eighteen points from 17 matches. MYPA meanwhile sit sixth, with 23 points from 17 games.

RoPS 1-0 KuPS

Saturday's action saw KuPS make the long trip north to Rovaniemi - whose previous match caused the sacking of JJK coach Kari Martonen.

RoPS celebrate their winner (photo via Jussi Leinonen)

The only goal was powerfully headed in by RoPS' Ndukaku Alison, his second in two games, with just twelve minutes on the clock. Both teams had chances, but it was the home keeper Tomi Maanoja who was the real hero, making several vital saves to ensure three points for RoPS. KuPS have only three wins in their last 11 games, and have only scored three goals in 5 games.

Highlights of RoPS 1-0 KuPS

RoPS are ninth in the table, with 21 points from 18 matches. KuPS are eighth, just one point ahead after 18 games.

IFK Mariehamn 0-0 Jaro

Mariehamn had returned from Azerbaijan as battered heroes. They drew 1-1 at Inter Baku, Adlam getting the away goal, but it was at a cost - Diego Assis and top scorer Dever Orgill both suffered cruciate ligament injuries and will miss the rest of the season. Jaro meanwhile have been inconsistent, playing well mostly but not converting the good play into points.

Stalemate (photo via Siri Lindén)

The key chance fell to Jaro, earning a penalty towards the end of the first half - but Shahdon Winchester's effort was saved by Mariehamn keeper Peter Enckelman. Coach Pekka Lyyski admitted that his thoughts had started to move towards the Europa League second leg on Thursday, but at this rate he'll be struggling to put out eleven men... 

Highlights of IFK Mariehamn 0-0 Jaro

IFK Mariehamn are fifth in the table, with 25 points from 18 games. Jaro are seventh, with 23 from 17 games.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Veikkausliiga week 17 - JJK sack coach, Inter score!!

This round was spread over two days before the Europa League sides head off into battle. The goals came early and late, and there was plenty to keep the fans entertained. Sometimes for the wrong reasons, sometimes for hilarious reasons.

I've added the highlights of HJK v Lahti since originally posting.

Honka 4-2 Jaro

The game was watched by a delegation from Lech Poznan, Honka's Europa League opponents, and they came away 'very entertained' (according to Honka's Ilkka Taponen). The game started brightly, Ghanaian defender Gideon Baah keeping up his excellent start with a sixth minute goal (he also picked up his fifth booking of the season, and a one match ban). Antti Mäkijärvi doubled the lead after 19 minutes, and all was looking rosy.

Väyrynen and Kullström were no good at spot the ball

But the second half started differently, Trinidad striker Shahdon Winchester continued his good form with an acrobatic 54th minute goal - but Honka's Tim Väyrynen restored the two-goal cushion almost immediately. Jaro's Mattias Wargh celebrated his first start in nearly a year with a goal, to set up a tense finish, but Väyrynen pounced again in added time to seal the points - Jaro coach Alexei Eremenko will have nightmares about that one. It was his sixth goal in eight games, and it took Honka top.

Highlights of Honka 4-2 Jaro

Honka have 33 points from seventeen games, with a goal difference of +6. Jaro are eighth, with 22 points from sixteen matches.

JJK 1-1 RoPS

It looked like JJK would get a valuable three points against poor travellers RoPS - but an injury-time leveller cost them the win, and their coach Kari Martonen.

JJK scorer Manninen (photo via Laura Hakalisto)

A 42nd minute goal from Mikko Manninen gave JJK the lead, and they held on through almost the entire second half - but RoPS' Nigerian defender Ndukaku Alison headed his first goal of the season in the 93rd minute. It was the straw the broke the camel's back, and it didn't take long after the game for JJK to announce that it was to be Martonen's last match in charge.

Highlights of the match are available here, via KSML.

The result leaves JJK at the foot of the table (twelth), with eleven points from sixteen matches. RoPS are in ninth position, with eighteen points from seventeen games.

Inter 1-1 TPS

The Turku derby didn't need much hype, and Friday's decision to give Inter striker Irakli Sirbiladze one extra match ban for allegedly saying to a referee "After football I will kill you" (during the Jaro match) spiced things up plenty. Inter had also gone six games without a goal, so the pressure was on.

Collector's item - an Inter goal (photo by Bo Stranden)

TPS had gone closest to opening the scoring, Roope Riski hitting the post. But it was Inter who did get the goal, Severi Paajanen slotting home from a corner after 39 minutes. But just three minutes after the interval, skipper Henri Lehtonen put the ball in his own net while under pressure from Riski.

TPS equalise (photo via Jaakko Stenroos)

There were plenty of niggly fouls and half chances, and a noisy atmosphere - but the game ended 1-1. TPS coach Marko Rajamäki bemoaned not being able to convert possession into goals, and said he's looking forward to the forthcoming European matches. Inter coach Job Dragtsma thought it was a fair result, but was irritated at conceding a "cheap goal".

Highlights of Inter 1-1 TPS

TPS sit fourth in the table, with 26 points from 16 games. Inter remain tenth, with 18 points from 17 matches.

MYPA 3-1 IFK Mariehamn

IFK Mariehamn had been truly humbled on Thursday with a 0-5 defeat to HJK, but flew out of the blocks on Sunday with a second minute goal from Brazilian Diego Assis - but MYPA ended their three game losing streak with a stunning comeback.

MYPA moving forward (photo via Pekka Vainio)

Two goals in two minutes from Xhevdet Gela (39') and Sasha Anttilainen (40') swung the game into MYPA's favour, before an injury time goal from Olajide Williams sealed the points.

Highlights of MYPA 3-1 IFK Mariehamn

MYPA have moved up to sixth place with 23 points from sixteen games. IFK Mariehamn are fifth, with 24 points from 17 matches.

KuPS 1-0 VPS

VPS lost ground on the top of the table after a defeat in Kuopio. KuPS were without suspended Omar Colley, but welcomed back keeper Mika Hilander, Dawda Bah and Etchu Tabe. VPS meanwhile were without injured Anthony Dafaa, and lost Jarno Parikka to a knee injury early on.

Happy KuPS (photo via Vartaloharhautus)

KuPS scored midway through the first half, Antti Hynynen scoring the only goal of the game after some rare VPS defensive madness. It was his first goal since the opening day, and it proved crucial as loanee (from HJK) Akseli Pelvas is still adjusting to regular football...

Highlights of KuPS 1-0 VPS

KuPS are now seventh, with 22 points from 17 games. VPS remain third, with 29 points from 16 matches.

HJK 2-1 Lahti

Didn't see the game. HJK's home form has been patchy, Lahti had won three in a row. But HJK returned to the top (after Honka had taken over for 24 hours) after a Perovuo penalty, a nice Demba Savage header, and Lahti's goal by Rafael - his fourth in four games. The game became slightly viral due to some goon falling over the advertising after HJK's second...

Head over heels (photo via Mika Laakso)

Don't worry, he must have been in an advanced state of relaxation (pissed) so the stewards pounced and dragged him away.

Highlights of HJK 2-1 Lahti

HJK are top, with 33 points from seventeen games, with a goal difference of +16. Lahti are eleventh, with fifteen points from sixteen games.