DAVID SMITH - Friday, August 19, 2011
Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek will try to continue their climb up the Tippeligaen standings while Josh Gatt and Molde will attempt to extend their lead atop the league.
Stabaek IF - Brann
On the heel of a four-game unbeaten run, Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek have a tough visit from second-place Brann which will surely test their newfound resolve.
Stabaek's season looked to be lost barely one month ago, after a five game streak without a win had dropped them closer to the relegation zone than to the spots destined for European glory.
They have entirely turned things around in the four games since, outscoring their opponents by a combined 10-3 score to return to the brink of the Tippeligaen's Europa League spots.
Currently just one point and two places ahead is Brann, who are also in the midst of a strong run both in league and cup play, and more importantly are responsible for Stabaek's last loss, a 2-1 victory for Brann in early-July to mark the season's midway point.
Stabaek have no injuries or suspensions to report, although they will be without Gilles Mbang Ondo after the forward was red carded in last weekend's win over Strømsgodset.
Brann are reporting no absences to their squad.
Molde FK - Lillestrøm SK
Josh Gatt and Molde will be looking to bounce back from their tough Norwegian Cup quarterfinal loss last weekend, and extend their five-point lead atop the standings when they host fifth-place Lillestrøm on Monday evening.
Sean Cunningham will likely be included on the Molde bench, but is not expected to take the field.
Molde are possibly experiencing a rare downturn in their play as of late, as they were soundly defeated by Rosenborg in their last league outing the proceeded to fall out of the Cup one week later in overtime at the hands of Fredrikstad for a second straight loss.
Nevertheless, they still hold a five-point lead over second-place Brann in the Tippeligaen standings, and have some amount of breathing room before they will start to feel any pressure from the teams chasing behind.
Their task to turn things around against visiting Lillestrøm will not be an easy one by any stretch of the imagination, since their opponents are one of the hotter teams in Norway right now with five wins from their last six.
This has brought Lillestrøm to well within shooting distance of their first European berth since 2008, and an attack which has averaged more than two goals per game over their last six will put the sometimes-shaky Molde defense to the test.
Molde will be without long-term injured defender Børre Steenslid while Lillestrøm are not reporting any injuries or suspensions.
Hønefoss BK - Ranheim IL
Steve Clark will be in goal for Hønefoss on Monday evening when the team faces second-place Ranheim in a huge test of their promotion credentials.
Hønefoss forward Kenneth Di Vita Jensen will look for substitute minutes off the bench.
Hønefoss have been solid throughout the season to keep a close grip on the Adeccoligaen's promotion spots, and can take a huge step towards giving themselves a leg up on Monday night.
A tight defense has been the key to their success, as they have allowed the fewest goals to their opponents through 19 league games, and are riding a two-game shut-out streak heading into the contest.
Their visitors Ranheim will be no pushovers, as they put up big numbers in their last outing when they beat Kongsvinger by a 4-0 score, however had lost the two games prior in one of their more shaky points of the season.
Neither team is reporting any absences to their squads.
Joe Bendik will be on the bench for Sogndal on Sunday as backup keeper when they host IK Start.
Kyle Helton will hope for a substitute appearance for Mjøndalen on Sunday as they host relegation-bound Randaberg IL.
Colin Burns will be the backup keeper for Sandefjord on Sunday when they welcome FK Bodø/Glimt.
Jonathan Borrajo and Ham-Kam have the weekend off from scheduled league play, and will next take the field on Sunday, Aug. 28 with a trip to current second place team Ranheim IL.