Saturday, May 24, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 9 - RoPS draw blanks again

Some Friday night lights this week, with five fixtures and plenty of tension. Here's what happened... Plus your patience will be rewarded with two howlers in the final game by KuPS to gift MYPA three points.

RoPS struggling again (photo via Eetu Sillanpää)

Lahti 2-0 TPS

A decent start for Lahti continued with the most regulation of home wins over bottom club TPS. Goals in each half, a volley from Loorents Hertsi (18') and Rafael's bustling finish (80') secured three points - and condemned TPS to a seventh league defeat in nine games. Lahti sit in fourth place, four points from third. TPS have six points from nine games, and only four goals scored.

SJK 0-1 Jaro

Jaro continue to rule the Ostrabothnia mini-league after a win at SJK to add to their previous win over VPS. The game was sealed early, Shahdon Winchester heading in from the edge of the box after just fifteen minutes, his third of the season. SJK's fans were noisy and created quite the atmosphere, but it wasn't enough. SJK are ninth with nine points from eight games. Jaro are third, with nineteen points from ten matches.

VPS 2-0 RoPS

Another blank for RoPS, and their fans are wondering where the next goal in coming from as they're now goalless in four, and missing Boris Kokko. A deflected effort from Keithy Simpson opened the scoring on 32 minutes, and Timi Lahti scored his first for the club after 55 minutes, following tremendous work from captain Strandvall. VPS are fifth with fifteen points, RoPS sit eleventh with seven points.

Honka 2-2 IFK Mariehamn

Alas Honka manager Shefki Kuqi took centre stage again with his antics, overshadowing a tense match. Ilari Äijälä's strike (38') took the hosts into the break with the lead, but Brazilian Diego Assis scored at the far post just after half-time to equalise. Top scorer Roni Porokara restored the lead after a corner in the 81st minute, but the lead was short lived, as Lucho Solignac punished poor defending three minutes later to secure a point. 

Kuqi meanwhile is under the spotlight, for kicking a bottle and ranting after Porokara was booked - Inter coach Job Dragtsma received a touchline ban last year for the same thing. Honka are sixth, with 13 points from ten games. Mariehamn are seventh, with eleven points from nine games.


MYPA returned to the top of the table by inflicting a first defeat on new KuPS coach Marko Rajamäki. The first goal will belong to the finest blooper reels - after 21 minutes, KuPS keeper Tomi Maanoja came out to clear a long ball, only to kick it at his own defender Omar Colley, and the ball rolled perfectly into the path of Stefano, who rolled the ball gratefully into the empty net for his fourth goal of the season. The second goal was another Maanoja howler, substitute Aleksi Ristola chased a long ball deep into injury time, played it past the on-rushing keeper and into the empty goal. MYPA go top, twenty points from ten matches. KuPS stay tenth, with eight points from nine games.

Highlights of Friday's games

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dogging in Finland

Excuse the somewhat sensationalist headline, which is no doubt bound to attract plenty of the 'wrong' sort of visitors, or maybe even a certain Mr Collymore. But nevertheless...

Myself and Mrs ETS are planning a longer stay in Finland in Summer 2015, which would give us an opportunity to bring young Woodstock along, our very lovely Labrador, who'll be three years old by then. Since he joined us in 2012, our visits to Finland have been limited, and shorter in length (from a weekend to just over a week), and the cost of flying with a large dog are incredibly prohibitive, with BA charging a price per kilogram - as he weighs over 40kg, we've left him with a boarder.


So what for next year? Well assuming I can get a larger car, and the time off work, the plan is to drive from London (via Denmark and Sweden), booking a holiday home for 2-3 weeks, and setting up camp. Mrs ETS hails from Kuopio, while there are family dotted all over from Helsinki to Kalajoki and in-between. My football travels will take shape from there, although I'm not planning on just visiting Veikkausliiga grounds, but any club which will host me and the boy, who is very much a fan of Finland and Arsenal.

On a visit in 2013, we took in the sights of Pietarsaari to see Jaro 3-0 JJK. One of the more intruiging sights of the day, other than the number of Manchester United jerseys, was an elderly lady watching the game with her dog. Now I know in England that most grounds would bar entry to our canine friends, but is this true of most Finnish clubs?

Jaro supporting dog

Seeing as the majority of clubs follow me on Twitter, it'd be nice to get an idea of whether we'd be welcome to visit in 2015. I wouldn't expect him to be appreciated in food serving areas etc, but at least within the complex to watch the game? At the moment we don't know where we'll be staying, and it's unlikely we'll get as far north as Rovaniemi. This autumn we're visiting Turku and Tampere, so there may be clues there.

All help is gratefully received, as we'd love to visit as many different clubs as possible, and make plenty of new friends. Thanks!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 8 - Sexy football is the winner

A top two clash that didn't disappoint (for one side), worth all the hype perhaps... Meanwhile the rest of the table is beginning to bunch up. Here is the latest from Finland's top division.

Lahti scorer Tuco (photo via Mirja Hussain)


Billed as Sexy Football v Sexy Football, or Bana v Ana (HJK coach Lekhosuo v former manager Muurinen, now in charge of MYPA)... The visitors were the early season leaders, and top scorers, but were but in their place by the defending champions, who returned to the top of the table with a thumping. Macoumba Kandji's second goal for the club on 31 minutes started it, sweeping in from inside the six yard box, before Veli Lampi scored the second, pouncing on an indecisive defence on 42 minutes. Nikolai Alho's first time finish just after half time made it 3-0, before Rasmus Schüller coolly made it four with ten minutes left. HJK go top with nineteen points, MYPA are second on seventeen.

Highlights of HJK 4-0 MYPA

Inter 0-0 VPS

Hardly high octane stuff, but then an entirely predictable scoreline. Bless Tuomas for compiling some action, but with no goals or even a booking, I hope the paying customers at least got to the nearby theme park afterwards. Inter are eighth on ten points, VPS in sixth with twelve.

KuPS 2-0 Honka

The Rajamäki revolution continues, as KuPS climb out of the bottom two and are unbeaten in four games under their new coach. After a goalless first half, Catovic finished across the keeper into the bottom corner to open the scoring on 54 minutes, before Finnish U21 international Aleksi Paananen made it two in injury time, running through the Honka defence to slot home. KuPS are tenth with eight points, Honka fifth with twelve (this was their first defeat in five games). This was KuPS's first victory at home to Honka in ten years, including eight consecutive defeats.

Jaro 2-0 TPS

Jaro's impressive start to 2014 continued against bottom club TPS. Trinidadian Shahdon Winchester headed his team in front before the break, after some crafty shoulder charging by Svanbäck. Argentinian defender Carlos Fondacaro made it two on 63 minutes with a neat turn and shot on the edge of the area. TPS defender Alex de John was sent off seven minutes later for pulling back Winchester outside the area with just the keeper to beat. Jaro are third on sixteen points, TPS remain bottom with six points.

SJK 3-0 IFK Mariehamn

Just a second league win for SJK, but it was convincing. Justin Moose scored the first goal from close range after 17 minutes, after Simon Nurme failed to hold a shot. Mariehamn had chances, before an effort from distance by Laaksonen in first half injury time found the bottom corner to make it 2-0. Mariehamn went down to ten men after a horrible two footed tackle from David Ramadingaye just after the break, before Toni Lehtinen scored the sort of goal you see on FIFA regularly, slotting into an empty net on 63 mins. SJK are now ninth with nine points from seven games. Mariehamn are seventh with ten points.

Lahti 1-0 RoPS

RoPS coach Juha Malinen took over at Lahti last season and led them from bottom to fifth. This year he returned with cup holders RoPS, but despite early chances, they conceded the only goal to "Tuco" Ngueukam after 71 minutes. Lahti move up to fourth with twelve points, while RoPS drop to eleventh with seven points, and just four goals in nine games.

Highlights of Saturday's games

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 7 - Muurinho and absent Kuqi

Leaving it late (damn these Monday fixtures). Here are the highlights of the latest round of fixtures. The next round of fixtures is on the day of the FA Cup final, which I'm going to, so it may be a similar case of short but sweet for that as well!

MYPA continue to lead the table after their come-from-behind win against Jaro, while HJK needed an own goal to win 0-1 at RoPS. HJK host MYPA on Saturday, a much anticipated clash between the new boss of the champions against their former leader. Should be entertaining.

HJK plugging the forthcoming top of the table clash

Highlights of Monday's fixtures

Latest Veikkausliiga table


Friday, May 09, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 6 - Sliced fingers and sexism

Highlights of Thursday's games

HJK 1-0 IFK Mariehamn

In Mika Lehkosuo's first home game in charge of the champions, they left it incredibly late. So late in fact, that it was nearly eight minutes into the (minimum) seven added minutes before Demba Savage scored the only goal, aided by a hefty deflection. Mariehamn had played well, and were good value for at least a point, their dynamic attack creating a number of chances while HJK had plenty of the ball. Three wins out of three now for Bana, while their visitors make the journey home wondering how it all happened.

Jaro 1-0 VPS

After a high-profile launch in the week of a mini-league for the Ostrabothnia clubs (Jaro, VPS and SJK), the first match ended with Jaro keeping up their impressive recent form with a hard-fought win. Jonas Emet's 68th minute goal made the difference, assisted by the superb Hendrik Helmke. VPS are now winless in three games, and are struggling for goals in the absence of Steven Morrissey, although they did have a late penalty saved.

SJK 0-0 Honka

A niggly game, with very little in the way of talking points on the pitch. Afterwards however, Honka coach Shefki Kuqi of crying to the referee, saying "I thought I was at a women's game" before taking to Twitter to apologise. Honka gave a debut to on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder Ghassimu Sow as a second half substitute, but that's about it.

KuPS 1-0 RoPS

Another solid result for new KuPS manager Marko Rajamäki, taking his side off the bottom. Gambian defender Omar Colley got the only goal on 65 minutes, volleying in a corner, but the game will unfortunately be remembered for the wrong reasons by RoPS - they lost both Juuso Majava and Petteri Pennanen to serious injuries in the first half, and both are unlikely to play again this season. Their lengthy injury list grows, and they face HJK in their next game.


High-flying MYPA continue their impressive start, putting four past bottom side TPS. Denis Abdulahi headed the opener before half-time (41'), and Pekka Sihvola made it two with a neat place on 57 minutes. TPS pulled one back through Englishman Wayne Brown's fine effort, but then Brazilian ace Stéfano Pinho grabbed two goals (69' and 86') to round off a fine win. Antti Muurinen's side had their Europa League place confirmed in the morning, and celebrated in style. TPS meanwhile have only the win at HJK to enjoy this year, and are in danger of losing touch with the rest of the table.

Lahti 0-0 Inter

Played on an agricultural potato field in a decaying stadium, the game didn't promise much. Both sides had some chances, but again, something else took centre stage. Joining the 'hilarious' injuries hall of fame was Inter goalkeeper Magnus Bahne, who after warming up and changing his jersey in the locker room, sliced his finger open on a fluourescent light and ruled himself out. Youngster Jere Koponen was an able deputy while the gruesome finger was stitched up. I've been assured that it was a laughing matter, perhaps not for Bahne...

Lahti's pitch on Thursday (taken by the official Inter Turku Twitter)

Monday, May 05, 2014

Veikkausliiga week 5(?) - KuPS get first point

Apologies for the confusion with the week number, the splitting of the first week threw me. Anyway, it makes sense for all if I fall in line with Player's Lehti, provider of the highlights...

Veikkausliiga top scorer Roni Porokara (photo via Sami Kilpio for HS)

TPS 0-2 RoPS

Saturday's match looked tough to call. TPS had picked up their first win away to HJK the week before, while RoPS had looked out of sorts and rarely travel well. TPS dominated the first half, with RoPS barely getting a sniff at the goal, but managed to get to half-time at 0-0. The visitors made a couple of changes, and earned a valuable three points with goals from former TPS star Petteri Pennanen (62') and Mika Mäkitalo (90').

Highlights of TPS 0-2 RoPS


HJK are under new management now, Mika Lehkosuo taking the reins after the board made an early decision. After a cup win over Haka, a stiffer test was expected at VPS. But with the influential Demba Savage returning, goals in each half from Sebastian Mannström (43' and 57') secured an important win. VPS meanwhile suffer their first league defeat of the season, and also lost Keithy Simpson and Jarno Parikka to injury.

IFK Mariehamn 2-1 MYPA

Leaders MYPA also suffered their first defeat, after the long trip to Åland. They did take an early lead, a second minute goal from Aleksi Ristola when Mariehamn failed to clear a corner. On 56 minutes, Petteri Forsell equalised from close range, before Luis Solignac made it 2-1 after 70mins, converting Östlind's cross. Without Mariehamn's points deduction, they'd be top, but they're showing why they were tipped by many as HJK's closest rivals this year.

Honka 1-1 Jaro

Who had Roni Porokara to be top scorer after five rounds? Me neither. He opened the scoring for Honka after 48 minutes, getting on the end of a deep cross which somehow made it towards the far post. He now has five league goals already. The lead only lasted for seven minutes though, as a ludicrous cross-field pass in the Honka defence was pounced upon by April's player of the month Hendrik Helmke, who scored his fourth of the season, and secured another point for Jaro. I dread to think of what swear words Shefki Kuqi used after seeing that.

Inter 1-1 KuPS

KuPS recruited former TPS coach Marko Rajamäki in the week, and he promptly earned his new side a point at Inter. Inter had knocked KuPS out of the Suomen Cup in midweek, and it looked like a repeat when Irakli Sirbiladze scored the opener after 50 minutes, after good play from Lehtonen. Estonian international Ats Purje headed in KuPS's equaliser on 71 minutes, his first of the season. KuPS remain bottom, but at least they have something to show now.

Lahti 1-1 SJK

SJK continue to pick up points in their debut season, and took the lead (against the run of play) when Juho Lähde slotted home just before half time. Lahti's pitch provided a lot of awkward bounces and bobbles, but the hosts got themselves a point when substitute Mikael Salimäki stabbed in on 74 minutes, just five minutes after coming on. Lahti are three points off the top, while SJK have five points from four games.

Highlights of Sunday's games