Match Preview: Did I Just Count Eighteen?

It looks like we will have a full bench for tonight’s match. It’s been a long time since that was the case last time, as you will have to go all the way back to May 27th when we played against Ilves. This is not to say all our injury woes are over, but at least we are no longer struggling to get players onto the bench.

One of the players that are expected to be on the bench is a new signing, who goes by the name Tuomas Savinainen. He is a full back / wing back who comes to us from the Pori-based team Musan Salama. Apparently he has not played any matches this season so we cannot expect a huge impact in this week’s matches. However, with experience from the third tier league in Finland (Kakkonen), there’s loads of potential in this signing.

And talking about matches in plural, we indeed play twice in the next three days. Today’s match against Nekalan Pallo (NePa) is an away match at our home stadium in Pyynikki, and on Saturday we return to the same place to host Valkeakosken Koskenpojat (VaKP). We are three points behind Ilves with a game in hand, and these two matches provide an opportunity to reverse that situation. Ilves is on an eight-match winning streak, so we probably will have to do that in order to not make our position in the promotion race very difficult.

For NePa today’s match is a special one, as they celebrate the 70th birthday of one of their founding members, Veikko “Vexi” Heimolinna, who is still active at the club. I have all kinds of respect for people who devote their free-time to a club that they care about, but unfortunately I cannot wish for three points as a birthday present. In any case, I’m happy they chose this match for the celebration, because otherwise this match would have been just another match on a suburban field somewhere.

The easy prediction for this match is that it will be a low-scoring affair where little things may decide the winner. Indeed, our two previous meetings this season both ended in a 1-0 victory for TamU-K. The first one was in the Nelonen winter league. A match that did not really matter as such, but both teams seemed to take a very competitive approach even back then. TamU-K and NePa are also the two teams with the lowest numbers of goals allowed this season, 14 and 16, respectively. Nobody else is below 20.

The match kicks off at 7.30 this evening. From here on out every match is an important one. Maybe that has been true all season long, but now that the end of the season is starting to loom, there is a new sense of urgency in that notion.