OK, maybe I am taking a step too far in comparing this 19-year old to Mr Litmanen. Still, what a performance! Riski, or RR10, as his recently innovated nickname goes, beautifully set up TPS’s winning goal against VPS and also put the ball past Henri Sillanpää himself. He was composed with the ball, passing precisely and setting up a number of chances for his team-mates. The only downside to the youngster’s performance was that he could have added to the goal tally, but as a whole he seemed like exactly the player TPS have been missing.
TPS should not get carried away. A win against a team whose head coach resigned two days earlier and who do not score many goals is perhaps not the best side to mark where TPS stand. While the likes of Babatunde Wusu, Wayne Brown, Kasper Hämäläinen, Mikko Paatelainen and Mikko Manninen put in solid performances, the two centre-backs are a BIG question mark. Jarno Heinikangas and Jaakko Nyberg don’t quite live up to the ball possession standards needed to make sure the team can get past the tough moments. The pair are too prone to hit the ball towards the horizon at the slightest prospect of enemy pressure. Such panicking often only makes matters worse.
Elsewhere, Pietari Holopainen and Sebastian Strandvall were Haka’s heroes when the Valkeakoski side claimed top spot in the league. The former scored twice and the latter once, with Strandvall also giving the assists that led to Holopainen’s goals. RoPS were beaten 3-1 despite having their moments.
Centre-back Ville Koskimaa has not been a starting 11 regular for Honka this campaign, and he failed to make things better for himself when his team paid a visit to Tampere United. Koskimaa headed a TamU freekick into his own net to give TamU a slightly surprising win. Honka have had a sub-standard start to the season, but our analysts here at NFN towers expected TamU’s internal turbulence to make more of a difference.
JJK’s record crowd of 4,022 people saw their team limit title challengers HJK to a single point. The game ended 1-1, with Medo striking the opener for HJK and Ik Kyung Nam heading the equalizer seven minutes later.
Rafael scored his first of the campaign for FC Lahti, and Mohamed Fofana doubled their lead against Jaro before the interval. Jaro got one back after an hour with Sebastian Mannström’s goal, but the visitors did not manage to do enough to secure any points.
Some followers of Finnish football are overly obsessive about attendance figures, but some figures deserve a special mention. Firstly, TPS attracted over 5,000 people. Much of that is due to young footballers who showed up as part of a special event, but nobody should complain about it as the kids bring some much needed enthusiasm and could be the real fans of tomorrow. I already mentioned JJK’s record attendance, but Haka are also deserving of some special attention. While tonight’s crowd of 2,326 does not sound like much, it is a good figure for a club that have struggled to attract 2,000 people in recent years.
Photo courtesy of Tiina Pirilä