HJK keep noses in front in Veikkausliiga race

Pasi Rautiainen is one of the funniest men in Veikkausliiga, and after 7,319 people filled Kupittaa Stadium today for Tepsi’s crucial clash with HJK he was in the mood to entertain. TPS had clawed back a point through Mika Ääritalo in the 86th minute after Chris Cleaver had earlier put through his own goal to give HJK the lead, and Pasi was very happy with the crowd, his players, and the general feeling around the club.

“It was a wonderful crowd today,” Rautiainen told the press (hat tip to Lari Vesander, who provides the most complete press conference coverage I can find). “Thanks for the support.”

The big crowd was also present in the new stand at the icehall end of Kupittaa, which gave the game a special atmosphere. Pasi’s happiness was completed by his brithday, (“I’m 35 today!”, he lied), and by happy family events that have taken place in the Tepsi camp this week.

“Unbelievably wonderful things have happened in the last 24 hours, even before Klubi came here,” continued Rautiainen. “Jallu Heinikangas last night became the father of a baby girl. Two days ago Wayne Brown got his girlfriend here. Yesterday he wasn’t the best at training, for obvious reasons, today he was already a little bit sharper. I don’t know how long this girlfriend is staying here, but I guess that by the end of the week he’ll be even sharper in Jyväskylä.”

Brown will return to Fulham at the end of the month, and the loan move has been a success for all concerned. Brown has helped TPS, gotten himself some valuable experience, and now returns to London brimming with confidence, ready to fight for a place in Fulham’s squad. He’s been very impressive at Veikkausliiga level, but slotting into a Fulham team where he isn’t the main man could be more difficult. As for Tepsi, Brown’s return to Fulham will create a gap in their attacking strategy that could be filled by Mika Ääritalo, Mikko Manninen stepping up, or maybe even 19 year old Riku Riski. The youngster has been on the bench for Tepsi recently, but as his side enter the run-in with a chance of the title, he will surely be asked to step up.

In the other games, IFK and Honka drew 1-1, as did Lahti and KuPS thanks to a quite amazing own goal from Prince Ollo in the 84th minute after Pele Koljonen had put KuPS ahead in the 17th, while Mypa hammered RoPS as expected.  On Saturday Haka’s miserable form had continued, with a 1-0 defeat at home to a well-drilled VPS, while a Georgi Hristov-inspired JJK beat Inter in front of a 3,159 crowd to maintain their status as the relegation candidate best-equipped to escape the drop.

There is a good YLE report on TPS-HJK and Honka-IFK Mariehamn, and for the Iltalehti highlights just click on the scores:

TPS 1 HJK 1

Honka 1 IFK Mariehamn 1

KuPS 1 Lahti 1

Mypa 4 RoPS 0

JJK 1 Inter 0

Haka 0 VPS 1

Tampere United travel to Jakobstad today for a Jakobsdagar special, on UTV and streams from 7pm Finnish time.

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