DAVID SMITH - Monday, May 3, 2010
Benny Feilhaber and Aarhus finally got into gear in posting a big road win over Silkeborg while Michael Parkhurst and FC Nordsjælland could only manage to take a point against Randers.
Silkeborg IF 1 - 4 AGF Aarhus
Benny Feilhaber got the start for Aarhus, playing the first 72 minutes on the left side of midfield as the team pulled themselves back out of the relegation zone with an emphatic win in Silkeborg on Saturday.
A run of four straight league losses had Aarhus looking headed on a fast track to the First Division with the season winding down, making Saturday's game in Silkeborg, against whom they had only managed one point in two tries so far this season, a must-win for their survival hopes.
With their main offensive threat Peter Graulund back in the lineup for the first time in the spring, they jumped out to an eighth-minute lead when a corner was knocked off the crossbar by Dan Thomassen, and the ball bounced favorably into the path of their star striker who was more than happy to mark his comeback with an outstretched header past Lasse Heinze.
They withstood an onslaught of pressure from the home team to hold their lead through the half thanks in large to a clutch performance by keeper Steffen Rassmussen, himself just returning from suspension, but their luck temporarily ran out five minutes after the break.
Silkeborg's Dennis Flinta pulled his team even in the 50th minute with a fine header on a free kick by Peter Degn, however the visitors quickly went back ahead thanks to a careless mistake by Frank Hansen.
Looking to quickly clear the ball out of the penalty area, Hansen mistimed his kick and instead tripped up Aarhus' Dennis Cagara, allowing Jakob Poulsen to put his team ahead from the spot.
Caspar Sloth wrapped the victory up in the 84th minute with a darting solo run on the right that ended with a blast just inside the far post, then added another for emphasis at the end of regulation, combining with Poulsen on a quick give-and-go to net his second of the afternoon.
The win puts Aarhus one point ahead of Randers in the battle to avoid the final relegation spot.
With three games remaining on the calendar, they face a crucial relegation six-pointer in Thursday's midweek game when they welcome SønderjyskE, who they trail only on goal differential, to their NRGi Park.
FC Nordsjælland 1 - 1 Randers FC
Michael Parkhurst played the full 90 minutes in central defense for Nordsjælland as they held on for a draw at home against Randers.
While clearly dominating much of the first half, the Wild Tigers just avoided a quick scare just before the half-hour mark when Parkhurst and Andreas Bjelland edged out former MLSer Yura Movsisyan as he dangerously stormed his way towards goal.
The attack-minded persistence of the team paid off in the 34th minute in a stylish manner, with Nicki Bille Nielsen sending a long pass towards Bajram Fetai, who subsequently sent a cross towards the net which was perfectly timed for Tobias Mikkelsen to knock in for the lead.
They had their chances to extend before the break, but were made to rue their wastefulness in the 52nd minute as Anders Egholm headed a throw-in towards Nordsjælland's goal and into position for Mikkel Beckmann to slam home for the equalizer.
The Wild Tigers had a slight edge over the final 40 minutes and limited their visitors largely to counter-attacks, but this time their continued pressure was not enough and were forced to settle for the draw.
Nordsjælland remain in seventh place, now looking at a seven-point gap to the top three places, with a tough midweek game in Odense next on their schedule.
Skive IK 2 - 0 Viborg FF
Babajide Ogunbiyi took up his usual place in Viborg's central defense on Saturday as they were undone by a pair of second-half goals in Skive.
Viborg did a good job of controlling possession for much of the first half, during which Ogunbiyi was shown yellow in the 39th minute, but were lacking the final touch needed to put away any of their chances.
Their inability to finish their attacks come back around to bite them as Skive slowly got a better hold on things and grabbed the lead with just under 20 minutes remaining in regulation with John Dyring setting up Kristian Nielsen for the opener.
Viborg coach Lars Søndergaard had his team pushing hard for an equalizer in the final minutes, even going so far as to move Ogunbiyi up front as an impromptu third striker, but their fate was confirmed in the dying seconds with Skive's Allan Høvenhoff taking advantage of a free field on a counter-attack to give his team the final 2-0 win.
The loss leaves Viborg in sixth place, with their next chance to pick up points coming on Saturday when they host fifth-place FC Vestsjælland.
FC Roskilde 2 - 1 BK Frem
Jamil Fearrington and Roskilde took another step to securing their First Division survival, posting an important win over Frem to stay seven points clear of the drop.
Roskilde had given themselves a huge boost with their midweek win over Kolding, and were looking to give themselves more distance from the drop against the league's second-worst team Frem.
While Kolding's win later in the afternoon ultimately kept their safety net at seven points, their 2-1 win was a valuable step towards assuring another season in the First Division with just seven games left to play.
They wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard with Jeppe Kjær completing a nice team passing effort for his tenth goal of the season to put them ahead already in the fourth minute.
While failing to increase their lead for the rest of the half, they added a second in the 58th minute as Anders Dahl Simonsen beat three defenders before sending his shot in just under the crossbar for 2-0.
Frem's Martin Jürgensen got one back two minutes later to provide a nervy final half-hour, but they ultimately held on for the win.
Roskilde jump to eleventh on the strength of the team's second straight victory, but will face a tough test to make it three in a row when they travel to second-place Lyngby on Sunday.
Aalborg's Chris Rolfe picked up a slight injury in training and Marcus Tracy is out with season-ending knee injury, meaning neither suited up for the team's 3-2 win over Midtjylland on Sunday, a result which puts them in the driver's seat for Europa League qualification.
Euan Holden is recovering from surgery and did not participate on Sunday when Vejle lost a 3-2 thriller in Kolding in the final seconds to drop to ninth in the standings.