DAVID SMITH - Saturday, October 1, 2011
Josh Gatt and Molde face a potentially title deciding visit to Tromsø while Jonathan Borrajo and Steve Clark square off in a game with major Adeccoligaen promotion and title implications.
Stabaek IF - Sarpsborg 08 FF
Mired in a record four-game losing streak, Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek will hope that they can finally turn things around at home against Sarpsborg 08 FF, the last-place team in the league.
As recently as mid-August, Stabaek looked ready to challenge for European qualification, however a complete nosedive has now left them closer to the bottom three of the Tippeligaen.
While a still safe six-point gap above the drop zone means they are likely in little danger of suffering relegation, a win against a Sarpsborg team which has managed to take only four wins throughout the entire season is a near must in order to save some face on a largely disappointing season.
Stabaek have a fully healthy squad available for the game while Sarpsborg are missing defenders Berat Jusufim Magnar Ødegaard and Joakim Eyde along with midfielder Tobias Henanger, all due to injury.
Tromsø IL - Molde FK
Josh Gatt and Molde can take a major step towards wrapping up the Tippeligaen title on Sunday when they pay a visit to lurking third-place team Tromsø.
Molde currently hold a seven point lead over both Tromsø and defending champs Rosenborg, and with six games remaining on the schedule for all three, the chances for their opponents to catch up are quickly dwindling.
Tromsø have practically shot themselves in the foot in their own hunt to reach the top, having lost their last two to allow Molde to maintain such a huge lead.
The first time these two teams met in early-April they traded goals on either side of the half to earn a 2-2 draw. A win to Molde would see them open a ten-point gap over both Tromsø and Rosenborg with five games left on the schedule, although the latter do hold one game in hand.
Molde have a virtually injury-free squad with only long-term absence Børre missing from the defensive options while Tromsø will be without suspended defender Saliou Ciss.
Hønefoss BK - Ham-Kam
The race for automatic promotion from the Adeccoligaen will see one of its major face-offs on Sunday when Steve Clark and Hønefoss host Jonathan Borrajo and Ham-Kam.
After featuring in each of the team's last two games, Norwegian-American striker Kenneth Di Vita Jensen will hope to once again take the field for Hønefoss.
With five games left on the schedule, a remarkably tight battle is being waged at the top of the standings, with first and fifth separated by only four points.
Hønefoss and Ham-Kam are arguably the two hottest teams amongst this group, with the former having gone seven straight without a loss, and the latter having won six of their last seven.
This has put Ham-Kam in second place, tied on points with Sandnes Ulf but only trailing by goal differential. Sitting just two points behind both Ham-Kam and Ulf, third-place Hønefoss is still well within the picture for the title race, and could feasibly move to the top spot with a win.
For Ham-Kam, defender Vegar Bjerke is out after suffering a foot injury last weekend, and fellow defender Truls Jevne Hagens is questionable as he recovers from a slight leg problem. Additionally, midfielder Oddbjørn Lie is suspended after picking up a pair of yellows in their midweek win over Alta.
Hønefoss are reporting no absences to their squad.
Mjøndalen IF - Kongsvinger IL
Kyle Helton looks to have solidified his place in Mjøndalen's starting eleven, and will hope to do his part to put them back on the winning path against visiting Kongsvinger IL.
Coming into last weekend's game, Mjøndalen had run off six straight without a loss, but collapsed on the road against division leaders Sandnes Ulf to suffer a 4-1 loss.
Fortunately for Helton and his teammates, their previous hot streak has all but pulled them out of any danger of relegation; with five games left they have a seven-point safety net to go with a vastly superior goal differential than all of the teams in the bottom four, meaning that even a total collapse would still likely leave them competing in the Adeccoligaen next season.
The same can be said for Kongsvinger, who are sitting one point and one place ahead of Mjøndalen, and are in the midst of a four-game unbeaten run.
Mjøndalen have a trio of players absent; American defender Rhett Bernstein is out for the rest of the season recovering from an ACL tear, defender Daniel Reinoso is out indefinitely with a knee problem and fellow defender Marius Boldt is still recovering from a pulled muscle.
Kongsvinger are reporting no absences to the team.
Joseph Bendik will be on the bench for Sogndal as backup keeper when they visit Fredrikstad on Sunday.
Sandefjord backup keeper Colin Burns will watch from the bench on Sunday when they welcome Strømmen IF.