DAVID SMITH - Sunday, May 13, 2012
Mason Trafford and Mariehamn felt a sense of deja vu as they were knocked out of the Finnish Cup by KuPS while Aaron Wheeler and KooTeePee were unable to pull off a second straight upset in the competition.
HJK Helsinki 3 - 0 FC KooTeePee
Aaron Wheeler played the second half for KooTeePee on Wednesday evening, as they were unable to repeat their giant-killing performance from the previous round in a shut-out loss to HJK Helsinki.
KooTeePee managed to hold off their top-tier hosts for the first half-hour, but finally succumbed to a pair of goals soon after the 30-minute mark.
Sherif Ashraf gave HJK the lead in the 33rd when he nodded in a corner at the near post from a tight angle, then Nikolai Ahlo doubled it two minutes later, storming into the right side of the area and rocketing a shot just under the crossbar.
Wheeler entered the game at the half in hopes of sparking a KooTeePee comeback, but HJK were firmly in control after the break, and added an exclamation point to the victory in the second minute of added time when Erfan Zeneli maintained possession under pressure to the left of goal and got off a shot which flew into the far side for the final 3-0 score.
Wheeler and KooTeePee will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they host FC Hämeenlinna in Ykönnen action.
KuPS 3 - 0 IFK Mariehamn
Mason Trafford and the Islanders had high hopes heading into their quarterfinal matchup with KuPS, however a repeat scoreline as last season's loss in the competition to the very same team sent them home empty-handed.
KuPS defender Etchu Tabe was not in uniform for the hosts.
In each of the two seasons, Mariehamn had reached the Cup semifinal, but were sent packing after 3-0 defeats. With last season's coming against Wednesday's opponents KuPS, the stakes were perhaps higher than would usually be expected, however the team fell victim to an overpowering opponent once again.
Ilja Venäläinen was key in each of the three goals for KuPS, being sent through by strike-mate Ats Purje to put the first away in the 41st minute, then setting up Antti Hynynen for their second in the 68th.
The hosts wrapped up their place in the semifinal with five minutes left, as Miikko Ilo was set up by Venäläinen for the final 3-0 score.
Mariehamn will return focus to their young league campaign, where they sit fifth in the standings and host ninth-place Lahti on Sunday.
KuPS will soon find out their semifinal cup opponent, but will look to book their first win in their league campaign when they visit reigning champions HJK on Saturday.