Match Preview: Another Big One

Today we play another big one. The last time we played against Ilves, the result was a dissatisfying 1-1 (0-0) draw. Little did we know back then that Ilves would go on a ten match winning streak. For us the winning streak lasted only for four matches, and two losses and two ties in the subsequent six matches have resulted in a five-point deficit with respect to Ilves. We no longer control our own fate in terms of promotion, but a win today would put Ilves under a bit of pressure, as their margin for error would be reduced to just one match.

Of course even in that case a nearly perfect fall season would be required from us. Therefore, most people are looking down the table rather than up. Even finishing second would most likely allow us to play a playoff match for promotion, and getting points today would go a long way towards reaching that goal. On Friday we got some favourable results as VaKP and NePa both lost their matches – however, this does not mean a whole lot unless we manage to get points from our two games in hand.

Today our lineup will be very similar to the one that brought back three points from Forssa last weekend. The most notable change is that Timo Kauppinen is again absent from defence. This forces some changes in the defensive line, but this is the area where we have the most options available, especially given that Otto Pitkänen is finally back. Jan Irjala will surely start in central defence, but whether he will be paired with Jouko Turunen or Osku Airesto is an open question at this point. Another question in everybody’s mind is: will Ville Toiva continue in central midfield where he excelled against FJK? The starting lineup will be announced just before the match, so we will have to wait.

Some call today’s match a derby, but personally I’m not ready for that quite yet. Indeed, our last meeting had a distinct lack of any sort of derby atmosphere. Only one team had vocal support, and even the overall attendance was the lowest one yet at Pyynikki. Granted, it was a weekday match, the weather was bitterly cold, and Ilves had not arranged any services for spectators. Today TamU-K hosts the match and things will be quite different – even the weather is quite perfect. We will probably see the highest attendance of the season. Restaurant 4 Vuodenaikaa will also be there, serving their famous French style hot dogs.

The match kicks off at 4 pm at Pyynikki Stadium. For those who cannot make it there, the club again provides a live stream at tamu-k.com/live.