Monday, April 28, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 5 - MYPA roll on, HJK in crisis?

During the week, IFK Mariehamn's 1-0 victory over VPS was changed to a 0-3 defeat due to an administrative error - the league tables haven't been verified pending an appeal. Any mentions of the two club's standings are based on the 0-3 result...


A first goal and the first league points of 2014 for TPS... To add to a terrible week for the champions. A defeat at Lahti and a draw with Honka was roundly finished by a nice finish from Wayne Brown. TPS fans celebrated, and their (mostly) young side did the fans proud. HJK fans meanwhile ponder the next low, and despite various injuries, they look devoid of inspiration. TPS move clear of the bottom, and next week's match at home to RoPS.

Wayne Brown celebrates his winner

Highlights of HJK 0-1 TPS

KuPS 0-2 Lahti

The first managerial casualty of the year was in Kuopio, where Esa Pekonen lost his job. Rumours circulate about his replacement, but veteran player Tero Taipale took the reins temporarily. Not that it did much good - goals in each half from Matti Klinga (40') and Rafael (57') earned another three points for Lahti, who are making a stronger start than the last two seasons. KuPS remain pointless and rooted to the bottom. Lots of work for the new coach.


Another blank for RoPS, with the optimism of a new start under Malinen fades further. MYPA made the trip north without their own coach Antti Muurinen, who was somewhat under the weather. A 75th minute goal from new signing Dawda Bah was the only goal. MYPA remain unbeaten, and go top of the table. RoPS last year relied on good home form, and will need to improve drastically.

Honka 3-1 Inter

Shefki Kuqi's side continue to take shape, and (perhaps rightly for now) are prioritising results over style. Roni Porokara's deflected fourth goal in five games after four minutes was a great start, while on-loan Fulham youngster Alex Brister scored his second goal for the club on 42 minutes. Henri Lehtonen pulled one back in first half injury time, before second half sub Anyamele scored a fine third in the 89th to secure the points. Honka have a steady seven points from five matches, while Inter's good start seems a long time ago, with a second consecutive defeat.

IFK Mariehamn 1-3 Jaro

After a choppy couple of days, where Mariehamn lost three points (and their perfect record, on paper but not the pitch), the doubt was removed on Sunday against Jaro. Jaro's Ilya Vaganov's 25th minute strike was equalised seven minutes later by a penalty from Petteri Forsell. Two goals in six minutes for the visitors (Emet, 71' and Helmke, 77' penalty) saw them earn a third win in a row, and up into the medal positions. The hosts will need to regroup, with a Suomen Cup quarter-final with JJK to play on Wednesday.

Highlights of Sunday's fixtures

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 4 - 100% Mariehamn

I've decided to do these blogs in the order of the highlights in order to make it easier to follow... Enjoy.

Jani Lyyski celebrates

HJK 2-2 Honka

Billed as "the Derby", albeit disputed by many, this match attracted the biggest attendance of the season so far (7363). HJK opened the scoring after six minutes through Mikael Forssell, before a 45th minute goal from Honka's Roni Porokara equalled the scores. Mehmet Hetemaj scored a long range effort on 53 minutes, but HJK levelled three minutes later through Nikolai Alho's header. HJK looked lethargic at times, and their sluggish start to the season doesn't bode well.

Highlights of HJK 2-2 Honka (Tuesday)

Jaro 2-1 Lahti

A second successive win for Jaro, and a first defeat for the visitors. After a goalless first half, the hosts scored twice in six minutes - a lovely curled finish from Helmke (51mins) and a penalty converted by Emet (57mins) before Lahti's "Tuco" Ngueukam got a goal back on 65 minutes. Jaro's matchday squad had seven different nationalities, but coach Eremenko seems to be getting results from them.

SJK 2-0 KuPS

A debut Veikkausliiga victory for SJK, and they won't get many easier games against a lacklustre KuPS side who remain pointless. First half goals from Spaniard Carlos Lopez (19' penalty, 32') proved the difference, and sent the vast majority of the 1747 paying customers away happy. KuPS had Ebrima Sohna sent off in the first half, and started with 41-year-old marketing manager Tero Taipale in defence. Worrying.

TPS 0-1 IFK Mariehamn

A goal on the hour from Jani Lyyski settled it, and makes a big difference at both ends of the table, even at this early stage. The result means that IFK Mariehamn have won all three matches so far, without conceding a goal. The young TPS side meanwhile have lost all three of their games by 0-1, and are weighted to the bottom with KuPS.


An early goal for MYPA set things going, Denis Abdulahi broke the deadlock after just two minutes. But Jamaican Keithy Simpson equalised nine minutes later, and the game eventually ended 1-1. MYPA are unbeaten with two wins and two draws, with VPS a point behind.

RoPS 1-0 Inter

A first league win for Juha Malinen came at a vital time, and stopped Inter's decent form in it's tracks. An early goal from former TPS midfielder Petteri Pennanen (15mins) was the only strike, and RoPS held on in a feisty game, which saw Inter's Juho Salminen dismissed in injury time.

Highlights of Wednesday's Veikkausliiga matches

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 3 - TPS & KuPS lose again, MYPA top

KuPS 1-4 Jaro

On a day when Finnish football, and KuPS in particular, remembered the life of the late Aulis Rytkönen, the hosts were truly stunned by a fine display from Jaro. First half goals from Hendrik Helmke and Shahdon Winchester were followed by second half strikes from Aubrey David and David Carlsson. A consolation from Miikka Ilo was followed by a red card for Ilo on a poor day for the yellows, leaving them pointless at the foot of the table. This was Jaro's first win, with their first goals to boot.

KuPS look to the skies for inspiration


The bronze medallists of 2013 beat those of 2012 by a single goal, a 75th minute strike from substitute Lasse Linjala. A steady start to the season for VPS, but another poor result for TPS after their Suomen Cup defeat to JJK in the week.

Honka 1-2 MYPA

Ten man MYPA took their place at the top of the table with another win against Honka, who they had also beaten in week one (weird fixture scheduling). Denis Abdulahi gave MYPA the lead (28mins) before Honka's on-loan Fulham defender Alex Brister equalised on 43mins. Pekka Sihvola restored MYPA's lead on the hour, but was sent off shortly after as MYPA held on. How long before Honka coach Shefki Kuqi picks himself up front?

Lahti 3-1 HJK

A surprise defeat for the champions, who were outplayed by Lahti in front of a decent crowd of 4512. Drilon Shala's 7th minute goal gave Lahti a lead, but another goal from Ghanaian defender Gideon Baah made it 1-1 just before half-time. But Lahti somehow scored twice before the break, first through Mikko Hauhia and then a second for Shala. The game ended 3-1, despite Shala having a penalty saved at the end of the game.

Inter 2-1 SJK

(Bad Easter pun time) Inter's 2014 resurrection carries on, but it was SJK who had put all their eggs in the basket with Akseli Pelvas scoring after 22 minutes. But Irakli Sirbiladze scored nine minutes later, and Tamas Gruborovics converted a penalty (his third goal in three games) just after the break to seal three points. No mention of crosses.

IFK Mariehamn 2-0 RoPS

Mariehamn keep a clean sheet? Their promising forwards delivered, with early second half goals from Solignac (49mins) and Forsell (53mins). RoPS meanwhile struggle, and only have one goal from their opening three games.

All the goals from Saturday's games

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 2 - HJK roll on, SJK off the mark

The second weekend of Veikkausliiga 2014 brought the first full round of fixtures spread over two days. Unfortunately I didn't watch either of the televised games live (FA Cup semi-final and visiting family...) but here are quick summaries along with match highlights.

HJK 3-1 KuPS

KuPS opened the scoring after just five minutes through Miikka Ilo. But a fine turn and shot from Senegalese debutant Macoumba Kandji on 28mins levelled it, and HJK moved in front eleven minutes later through Robin Lod. A Mikael Forssell penalty on 57 minutes made it 3-1, and two wins from two for the champions.

Kandji celebrates his equaliser (via HJK's Facebook)

TPS 0-1 Honka

The skint derby was settled by a headed goal from Honka's Roni Porokara just before half time. Honka midfielder Mehmet Hetemaj was sent off in the second half for a second booking.

RoPS 1-1 SJK

SJK's first Veikkausliiga game ended with a creditable draw at RoPS. The hosts took the lead through a scramble from Kokko after 36 minutes. The visitors got their point through Serbian defender Milosavljević on 65mins, sending the travelling fans wild.

Highlights of Saturday's games

IFK Mariehamn 1-0 VPS

Mariehamn's season began with three points against early contenders VPS. but they left it late - a 93rd minute winner from Tomas Hradecky, heading in a free kick from Petteri Forsell. My clean sheet bonus for VPS keeper Henri Sillanpää goes begging.

Jaro 0-2 Inter

Jaro's wretched start continued with another blank and another defeat, this time to Inter Turku. Inter benefitted from early goals, a looping header from Gruborovics and a cheeky panenka penalty from the returning Mika Ojala.

MYPA 1-1 Lahti

Not quite an effort to match last week's drama (MYPA beat Honka 4-3)... But honours even. MYPA took the lead through Valeri Minkenen's smart volley on 62 minutes, before Lahti equalised via Drilon Shala's deflected free kick.

Highlights of Sunday's matches

See you next week! 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 1 - Sexy football is back!

After a loooooong winter, with nearly six months since the last round of 2013, the new season is finally under way. In typical style, the start has been split - this week saw half of the teams start early, hosted on artificial pitches.

In perhaps a warning for the year, my day job has become a lot busier, so there may not be the epic week reviews that I did in 2012/13... Anyway, here is a brief recap on Sunday. The video below is a compilation of all of the goals, so hopefully easier to load.

MYPA 4-3 Honka

Antti Muurinen's new charges at MYPA started with a bang - eventually. Honka, now under Shefki Kuqi's management, took the lead three times, each time pegged back by MYPA, before they scored an injury time winner. MYPA's new Brazilian loanees remained on the bench, while a much-changed Honka debuted Fulham loanee Alex Brister in defence. An interesting welcome to Finland!

MYPA overcame Honka the hard way

HJK 1-0 Jaro

A steady start from the champions, but they were made to work. A goal from new captain Teemu Tainio secured the points, while various other efforts came close - but Jaro did ok, and some of their new signings look quite promising. HJK have been busy signing forwards, and will be without Demba Savage for a number of weeks.

Tainio celebrates the winner

RoPS 0-2 VPS

A great start to 2014 for last year's bronze medallists VPS, but it came at a cost. Goals from Koskimaa and Strandvall gave them the points, but they lost striker Steven Morrissey to a fractured arm and he'll be out for two months. Meanwhile RoPS begin their new era under Juha Malinen with an insipid performance, and need a big improvement ahead of their match with SJK next weekend.

Steven Morrissey in pain - ouch

All of Sunday's goals