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Viking North Utsire
Division 1a, Ultimate League
Manager: VelvetAndroid
Viking into first ever UL Cup semi-final
A patched-up Viking North Utsire battled past Old Poochie on penalties this Friday to reach their first ever Ultimate League Cup semi-final after nearly 30 seasons in existence. It was only a second ever appearance in the quarter-finals, and although the game could easily have gone either way it turned out that Viking's recent midfield injury issues were not quite enough to cancel out the advantage of having been handed perhaps the weakest opponent left in the draw.

The pair's only previous meetings were the league doubleheaders in Division 4g in Season 36, so there wasn't much form to go on, but the Utsirans were able to field the stronger side -- helped by the return from injury of one key midfielder, Magnus Hovland. Magnus had actually been rushed back into action a lot sooner than planned, when he hobbled off the bench just 9 minutes into Monday's Div 2b match at Partizan Belgretna after debuting 17-year-old David Sørum was stretchered off.

For the luckless academy newcomer it will almost certainly end his nascent career in a record amount of time, though for VNU this third major injury to a midfielder in four games actually proved a blessing in disguise, as Magnus made it through intact and proved his match-fitness for the subsequent Cup tie. Late goals from Knut Hovland and Ulrik Klovning saw Viking past Partizan on the day, keeping them four point clear at the top of the division with three games to go. With a seven-point cushion to 3rd-placed Wollaston Phoenix, whom they visit next, a top-two finish could potentially be assured as soon as tomorrow.

In the meantime, the Norsemen have extended their winning run to seven matches, despite 120 goalless minutes against Poochie, as after 10 successful penalty kicks were exchanged Jens Hovland finally saved from Mihaita Focsa and Trond Austrheim stepped up to blast VelvetAndroid's side into the semis with their first sudden-death kick.

It was not a resounding victory, but ultimately it doesn't really matter how you get there, does it? To be fair, Viking have allowed just one shot on their goal in the last three knockout games put together -- a record they will have to extend somehow in the semi-final against top-flight Aardvark Owls, last season's beaten finalists and a much stronger team.

2021-12-14 01:17 715 Views Reporter: TonyBrazil

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