RECAP: WEEKEND FINNISH ACTION
Etchu Tabe and RoPS picked up a pair of draws over the weekend while Jeremy Vuolo and AC Oulu climbed to fourth place with a close win over Espoo.
RoPS 1 - 1 Turku PS
Etchu Tabe played the full 90 minutes on Thursday night as the team fought back against Turku PS to earn a point at home.
TPS were first on the scoreboard, taking the lead as Petteri Pennanen outsmarted the defense to grab his first goal of the season.
RoPS were practically gifted an equalizer just before the hour mark, after TPS defender Jakko Nyberg hauled down Mika Lahtinen as he streaked into the penalty area, drawing a red card and setting up a successful conversion from the spot by Shpat Qerimi.
Having a man advantage for the last half-hour, RoPS searched for a winner, however were thwarted at every turn by their visitors, with each team gaining their share of the points.
RoPS 0 - 0 Kuopio PS
Etchu Tab and the RoPS defense put on a dominating performance in their second game of the weekend, stopping the KuPS attack at every turn, but unable to generate any offense of their own as they settled for a scoreless draw.
Tabe was tasked with stopping KuPS star forward Dickson Nwakaeme, and did a fine job to win nearly every duel with the 25 year-old Nigerian.
A first-half injury to RoPS central midfielder Ville Syväjärv forced the team to change their tactic well before halftime, and they never fully adjusted in what was overall dull contest.
Mexican midfielder Jose Manuel Rivera was brought in with just under 20 minutes remaining in hopes of generating a winning goal for RoPS, however was unable to turn the tide, with the team earning yet another point at home.
The second draw in three days for RoPS sees them end the weekend in eighth place, and they will have a short break before resuming action on Wednesday afternoon on a trip to traditional league powerhouse HJK Helsinki.
IFK Mariehamn 3 - 1 FF Jaro Pietarsaari
Josh Wicks returned to goal for IFK Mariehamn and Mason Trafford went the distance in the defense as they opened their busy weekend with a 3-1 win over JJ Jaro on Friday afternoon.
Mariehamn defender Giuseppe Funicello did not take the field for the hosts.
Following a scoreless first half, the Islanders were first on the board two minutes before the hour mark as Hendrik Helmke set up Aleksei Kangaskolkka for the opener, then the German scored one of his own in the 70th minute to make it 2-0.
The game looked to be effectively over when Jaro keeper Vitali Teles was shown red for blatantly handling the ball outside of his area in the 73rd minute, however they did manage to pull one back with three minutes left in regulation as Jussi Aalto stormed past the Mariehamn defense on his way to goal.
However, on Mariehamn's very next attack, Petteri Forsell sent his teammate Toni Lehtinen into the area, and the former Finnish international made no mistake to bring the final score to 3-1.
Inter Turku 2 - 0 IFK Mariehamn
Josh Wicks and Mason Trafford were both in the IFK Mariehamn starting lineup on Monday night, however were unable to help guide the team to a second straight victory as they fell on their trip to league leaders Inter Turku.
Giuseppe Funicello did not participate in the proceedings for Mariehamn.
Despite falling on the losing end at the end of 90 minutes, Wicks likely made a strong case for nailing down his spot as starting keeper, as he nearly singlehandedly kept Inter out of his net.
The division leaders dominated the shots by a 17-4 margin, but were thwarted until the 82nd minute when they were awarded a penalty, which Mika Ojala did convert for 1-0 despite the American guessing the direction of the shot correctly and barely getting a finger on the ball.
While attempting valiantly for the come-back, they were finally done in with four minutes left, as a defensive mix-up left Timo Furuholm with too much room to work, and the long-time Inter player put the ball away past Wicks for the final 2-0 score.
The split result of their two weekend games still sees Mariehamn rise one spot overall to fifth place, and they will have until Thursday to prepare for their second away game in a row when they visit JJK Jyväskylä.
FC Espoo 0 - 1 AC Oulu
Jeremy Vuolo and AC Oulu put on a strong performance against the division's last-place team, holding their opponents scoreless on the way to an important road win on Sunday.
The only goal of the game was scored three minutes past the half-hour, when Canadian attacker Randy Edwini-Bonsu broke through into the area and was toppled by Espoo keeper Timo Aaltonen.
This forced the referee's hand in awarding a penalty to Oulu, which Dritan Stafsula had no problems converting to put his team into the lead.
Vuolo did his work to maintain the lead, making several clutch saves including a reflex block of a shot by Shpetim Kamberi in the 66th minute.
The three points raises Oulu to fourth in the Ykkönen, just two points out of the division's promotion spot. They will hope to make up that distance on Saturday when they face their next game at home against FC Viikingit Helsinki.
Kokkola PV 0 - 1 PS Kemi Kings
Daniel Stevens played the full 90 minutes in Kemi's midfield on Sunday afternoon, helping the team hold on to an early lead as they secured all three points on their trip to Kokkola PV.
Kemi were off to a flying start shortly past the opening whistle, as Tuomas Tyystala lined up for a 21-yard free kick in the second minute, which he sent flying just over the wall and out of the reach of KPV keeper Aki Lyyskin for the lead.
Kemi kept up their dominating performance throughout the remainder of the first half, although with nothing further to show for it on the scoreboard, and withstood a more substantial press from their hosts in the second half to eventually take home all three points.
The win lifts Kemi up to eighth place, now five points clear of the drop zone. They will have a break until Sunday afternoon when they host second-from-bottom Porin Palloilijat.
Kellan Wilson is stateside on personal matters and did not take part on Saturday when HIFK drew even with Jippo Joensuu with a 1-1 score.