RECAP: WEEKEND FINNISH ACTION
The trio of Americans at Mariehamn were on the field for a difficult home loss to Vaasa PS while Jeremy Vuolo and AC Oulu kept within reach of promotion with a win over league leaders FC Lahti.
IFK Mariehamn 0 - 1 Vaasa PS
Josh Wicks and Mason Trafford played the full game for Mariehamn and Giuseppe Funicello saw the last 12 minutes of action as a late sub, as the Islanders were dealt a tough one-goal loss at home to Vaasa PS on Sunday.
Mariehamn entered the game on a three-game winless run, and while they did a fine defensive job to hold VPS scoreless for most of the contest, they were forced to once again leave without any result to show for it.
While VPS were the more dangerous of the two teams throughout the first half, The Islanders did pull momentum more in their favor after the break and were given a golden opportunity to take a huge step towards three points shortly following the restart.
After Toni Lehtinen was upended in the VPS penalty area, Petteri Forsell stepped up to the spot and poorly mis-hit his shot well over goal in the 54th minute, keeping the game scoreless.
Even though they easily looked the more likely to take the lead after the botched spot kick, the hosts were made to rue their wastefulness 16 minutes later, as Edgar Bernhardt picked up the ball at the left edge of the field and sped his way into the box before launching a shot which careened off the far post and bounced over the line to secure the surprising win for the visitors.
The result leaves Mariehamn struggling in sixth place, and they will return to action on Friday when visiting ninth-place FF Jaro Pietarsaari.
PS Kemi Kings 0 - 1 HIFK
Daniel Stevens got the start for Kemi Kings, playing the first 62 minutes while picking up a 58th-minute yellow card as his team fell at home in a tight contest to HIFK on Saturday.
HIFK keeper Kellan Wilson was on his team's bench but did not make it into the game.
While neither team could grab hold through the opening half, the game's major turning point came in the 55th minute when Aleksi Raiha foolishly pulled down Sami Okkonen to stop a counter-attack, and was shown an immediate red as he was the last defender.
Stevens picked up a yellow card in the 58th minute and left the game two minutes after the hour mark, and was forced to watch from the sidelines as HIFK scored the winning goal shortly there after.
With 18 minutes left on the clock, a counter by HIFK saw Mergim Kastrati feed the ball to Okkonen, who beat Jusa Impiö for the winning goal.
The loss drops Kemi further into the drop zone, where they now occupy one of the division's two automatic relegation places. They will hope to turn things around on Saturday when they visit FC Hämeenlinna.
HIFK remain in ninth with a four-point cushion, and will next host FC Espoo on Sunday.
FC Lahti 1 - 2 AC Oulu
Jeremy Vuolo and AC Oulu scored a late winner, taking all three points on their visit to Ykkönen leaders FC Lahti on Sunday to remain within striking distance of promotion.
Oulu were off to a dream start, with a third-minute counter ending when Jonne Kemppinen received the ball in the danger area and put it away in the near corner for 1-0.
Both teams saved the rest of the action until late in the contest, with Lahti equalizing in the 73rd minute when Mika Lähderinne put a corner away for 1-1.
Oulu would have the last laugh, however, as Canadian forward Randy Edwini-Bonsu fought to keep the ball then quickly passed it over to Dritan Strafsula who fired a cannon past the Lahti keeper for the win.
Oulu climb to fourth place, trailing the promotion spots by just six points at the half-way point of the season. They will look to make up some ground on Saturday when they host FC KooTeePee Kotka.
Etchu Tabe is serving out a red card suspension and did not join in the fun with RoPS as a 2-1 loss at home to Haka Valkeakoski sent them closer to a return to the Finnish second tier.