Early Goals and Late Comebacks

As I sat down to watch European football powerhouse Iceland take on plucky little France in the Euro quarterfinals, I realized that I’ve been remiss on my match updates, likely disappointing my regular readers (both of them).  So, onward.

After a layoff of almost three weeks, Olafsvik faced their Reykjavik namesakes.  VikingurR striker Gary Martin converted a penalty in the 10th minute and added a goal in open play two minutes later.  Olafsvik was unable to put together a response, leaving it to the national team to take their revenge against Perfidious Albion three days later in the Euro knockouts.

Things looked headed for a repeat three days later as VikingurOl hosted Throttur Reykjavik, and Throttur scored two quick goals before most of the supporters had managed to open up their thermoses of coffee.  Croatian Messi Hrvoje Tokic was able to score off a corner in the 40th minute, and Vikingur headed to halftime down 2-1.

The first half hour of the second half proceeded slowly with Throttur successfully parking the bus and Vikingur unable to break through.  Fan favorite Alfreð Már Hjaltalín entered in the 79th minute and quickly made his presence known, slotting home an equalizer off a Þorsteinn Már Ragnarsson header five minutes after coming on.  As regulation time ticked away, Vikingur stepped up the attack, and in the first minute of stoppage time Aleix Egea headed home a corner to give Olafsvik the dramatic 3-2 win.

VikingurOl now stands in third place, with another long layoff due to 75% of all Icelandic football supporters having to find their way back from France over the next week.

Late Equalizer for Olafsvik

A mistake by FH defender Jonathan Hendrickx was all that Croatian Messi Hrvoje Tokic needed to slot home an equalizer in the 86th minute, as Vikingur Olafsvik came away with a hard-fought draw against last season’s champion.  Hafnarfjörður was the stronger team for most of the game, but a well-organized and stubborn Vikingur defense conceded only a single goal from Steven Lennon in the 28th minute.

Vikingur stays level in fourth place with 11 points, one behind Breidalbik and trailing FH and Stjarnan on goal differential.  They host last-place Fylkir next week, looking to take three points and move up.

A Late Start to a New Season

Mine, that is – although it appears that it has taken Vikingur Olafsvik a few weeks to get the ship headed downwind as well.

The first five weeks of the season saw Vikingur collect ten points, which is nothing to scoff at, although it was not done in the most inspiring fashion – with a scoreless draw, three one-goal wins, and a 2-0 loss to Thróttur Reykjavík (who is quickly looking to be the class of the league, having given up only one goal in five matches which they’ve won convincingly).  From afar, it has appeared that the story of the season was going to be stingy defense and equally stingy offense.

They say you can’t lose if you don’t concede goals, but by the same token you can’t win if you don’t score, and scoring has been at a premium for Vikingur.  Last week’s Cup match against Thor seems to have sparked something with the Olafsvik side, though.  After falling behind 2-1 in the first half, Vikingur stunned the opposition with two long-range goals in the final ten minutes to win 3-2 and advance to the quarterfinals.  They followed this up with a convincing win over Bi/Bolungarvik in league play, in a 2-1 match that wasn’t really as close as the scoreline indicated.

Today, they turned it up another notch.  In a match that has been described by observers as “very probably the best quality game in VikingOl history,” the Olasvik 11 controlled possession, controlled the match, and cruised to a fairly effortless 2-0 victory.  Goals by William Dominguez da Silva and Alfreð Már Hjaltalín came on either side of halftime, with numerous other opportunities falling to Olafsvik including at least two uncalled penalties.  And the Vikingur defense had little difficulty maintaining their fourth clean sheet of the season against an HK attack that was described by Fotbolti,net commentator Magnús Valur Böðvarsson as about as effective as a plastic knife at KFC.

It’s a good time to be rounding into form, with a Cup quarterfinal match Thursday at Fjolnir, currently sitting third in the Pepsideild, before facing Thor in league play next Sunday with a chance to overtake them and move into second place.

Playing out the string

With the Akranes victory on Thursday, Vikingur Olafsvik was locked out of promotion, falling ten points back.  So, with three matches left, it’s a matter of playing out the string to determine who is the best non-promoted club in second-division Icelandic football.

Vikingur Ol picked up a point in Round 20, as Þorsteinn Már Ragnarsson put in an equalizer in the 85th minute against Bi/Bolungarvik to end up with a 1-1 draw.  They now have 33 points, standing two clear of Throttur.

Vikingur hosts KV Reykjavik in their last home match of the season next Saturday, before closing out the season at Haukar.  The last time the clubs met in Reykjavik, KV scored three goals in the first 15 minutes and held on to defeat Vikingur 3-2 in a match that Vikingur otherwise dominated.

Best. Day. EVAR.

Following a second-division Icelandic football team from New Jersey is, shall we say, a challenge.  I usually head over to fotbolti.net, where the great folks frequently have a writer doing a live commentary on the match (in Icelandic, of course, but Google Translate FTW, as long as you can puzzle out things like “hoof diagram Viking defense and Hilmar Incorporating finishing well over Arnar Darra”).

Imagine my great surprise and delight when I got onto the page about 30 minutes into the game (hey, I was at work) and saw that the game was being streamed live on sporttv.is.  Could it be?  Could I actually get to watch the club, instead of just reading about them?

YES!

Unfortunately, I tuned in too late to miss the highlights of the first half – Þorsteinn Már Ragnarsson slotting home a rebound before the first half-minute of the game had passed, and The Pride of Hackettstown, Joey Spivack, driving a long-range missile into the net in the 34th minute to put Vikingur up 2-0.

Overall, Vikingur seemed to have better quality possession throughout the match, keeping the ball in the attacking half and forcing Throttur to try to boom long balls forward and score on a breakaway.  They broke through in the 70th minute with a curling shot from just outside the box, and pulling to within one goal seemed to energize them, as they held possession far better and put pressure on the Vikingur defense.  In the last ten minutes of the match, Vikingur defender Brynjar Kristmundsson had to head a shot off the line, and a second shot skipped off the crossbar and out of danger, or Throttur could have leveled at 2.

In stoppage time, Throttur earned a free kick about 15 yards outside the box, and brought forward everyone including the keeper to try for the equalizer.  Vikingur keeper Arnar Darri Pétursson bravely went up into the crowd and took the service, and quickly released Þorsteinn Már on a counterattack; the Vikingur Ol striker calmly delivered the ball into the back of the Throttur net from 40 yards out to put Vikingur up 3-1 and put the match out of reach.

So, to summarize:

Þorsteinn Már got a brace.

The Pride of Hackettstown Joey Spivack scored his first Vikingur Olafsvik goal.  (He was favoring his right leg when he was subbed out in the 79th minute, but told me later it was just a cramp.)

Vikingur Olafsvik won.

Akranes lost.

Throttur and KA, who both started the day two points ahead of Vikingur, both lost.

Vikingur moved into fourth place, 5 points behind Akranes for promotion.

And I got to actually watch Vikingur Ol live on my computer.  Yes, that is correct: Sitting in New Jersey, I got to watch a video feed of a second-division Icelandic soccer match being broadcast from a stadium in Reykjavik.

I live in the future.

Eyþór Helgi Birgisson Gets 5-Match Ban

Friend of the Blog Eyþór Helgi Birgisson, who got a red card in Vikingur Olafsvik’s last match against Grindavik, was handed a 5-match touchline ban from the Icelandic Football Association for violation of Regulation 16, which prohibits the use of discriminatory language.  Eyþór Helgi will not even be permitted to attend the club’s home matches during the ban.

Sources in attendance at the game claim that, while Eyþór Helgi spoke to the referee after his sending-off, there was nothing discriminatory or prejudicial in his words or actions.  No further information has been forthcoming from the KSI, the club, or Eyþór Helgi.

The five match ban will run concurrently with Eyþór Helgi’s suspension for receiving a red card in the Grindavik match.  He will not be eligible to return to play until the club’s penultimate match of the season, against KV on 13 September.