Asker Fotball 1 Mjøndalen IF 1

Sunday 22nd May 2011
Asker Fotball 1 Mjøndalen IF 1
At: Føyka Kunstgras, Asker, Norway
Kick-off: 6-00 pm
Admission: kr 170 (about £20); Programme: free (4 pages)
Attendance: 1260
Weather: rain
Duration: first-half: 47:08; second-half: 48:09

Plan C or was it Plan D saw me take in the Adeccoligaen game between newly promoted Asker and local rivals Mjøndalen. The players’ strike that wiped out today’s entire Tippeligaen programme could have been a real blow, though the only problem it left was what to do with a probable ‘white elephant’ of a ticket for Fredrikstad v Haugesund.

The TV in the Youth Hostel had teletext, which provided two alternative games – a second tier game at Asker or third tier game at Frigg Oslo. Help from home confirmed these two games were unaffected by the strike so I plumped for Asker. Like Moss yesterday, the name of ‘Asker’ meant something to me as I remembered reading a report on Tony’s Non-League Forum and seeing a photo of the ground.

With three hours to occupy between arriving in central Oslo and needing to leave for Asker, I decided to embark on a walking sightseeing tour of the city centre, based around a walk up Kark Johans Gate to the Royal Palace and back down to the station. The National Gallery was free and included in the collection were the 1893 version of Edvard Munch’s Skrik (The Scream) and impressive Winter Night in the Mountains by Harald Sohlberg.

Asker is served by several trains an hour running to and from Oslo Central Station [Oslo Sentralstasjon or Oslo S] with a journey time of around 30 minutes depending on whether a fast or local stopping train. Unlike Moss station, there were left luggage lockers at Asker station though fortunately I’d got no large bag to stash.

Founded in 1889, Asker gained promotion to the second tier (Adeccoligaen) of Norwegian football at the end of last season as champions of third tier section 2 losing just three league games. In their recent history, they spent five seasons in the fourth tier Third Division between 2002 and 2006 before gaining promotion back to the Second Division at the end of the 2006 season. The season before, 2005, saw Asker remarkably win all 20 league game but missed out on promotion by losing a play-off. Opponents Mjøndalen IF have also moved up two divisions within the last ten years, gaining their place in the Adeccoligaen at the end of the 2008 season.

The set up at Asker’s Føyka Kunstgras was interesting and certain aspects wouldn’t be allowed at step 6 of the English non-league pyramid. It was a synthetic pitch (orientated east-west) located around 200 yards from the changing rooms past an athletics stadium and up an incline. Players even made the long walk at half-time. Like Moss there was no cash at the stadium entrance so tickets had to be purchased from the ticket office next to the changing rooms. Tickets were shown to one of a large number of stewards at pitchside.

Spectators were only allowed on one side of the ground (north side) which boasted a seated stand running along the entire touchline. Most seats were uncovered apart from those ‘VIP’ seats in the central below a small roof. There were 12 rows in eight distinct blocks with around 1440 seats in total. Some spectators stood at the top of the bank at the west end, presumably they had paid for the privilege. A tea bar was located behind block G - waffles come recommended!

Presumably to meet all the rules and regulations of the Adeccoligaen, the place was heavily stewarded and my bag was searched before entering the stadium. I had to finish of my drink and put the plastic bottle in a bin before being allowed in. I had an uncovered seat in block H and of course it not only rained before kick-off but just about through the entire match as well.

Players warmed up on the pitch then made their way back down to the changing rooms shortly before kick-off. They then faced what must be the longest fair play walk in football along the athletics track up to the pitch.

Teams were unchanged after the toss so Mjøndalen (wearing brown shirts, white shorts and brown socks) got the game underway attacking the athletics track end in the first half. Lights were on from the start on such a gray evening through only five of the six pylons were working.

The was excitement right at the start as a 15-yard right-foot volley from Asker’s Armin Sistek hit the top of the bar in the second minute. Even though Mjøndalen dominated, Asker (in white shirts, black shorts and white socks) should have taken the lead in the 27th minute. Fed by Ulrik Arneberg, Sistek had just Anders Rotevatn to beat who produced a fine save.

Mjøndalen took the lead in the 40th minute. Petar Rnkovic, wearing the number 77 shirt, pulled the ball back from the right for Joachim Olsen Solberg to slot home.

At half-time, the players made their way back to the changing rooms and were back on the field within 20 minutes.

Asker got back on level terms in the seven minutes after the restart. Stian Solberg delivered a right-wing corner which Chris Joyce powered into the back of the net with a first-time bullet header.

An incident in the 62nd minute ended up making me wonder if my watch had a problem. Asker’s Stian Rasch (wearing 88 incidently) got in a tackle and the ball flew up and hit the scoreboard, attached to the building on the far side behind the dugouts. A part flew off and several minutes later I noticed the time elapsed displayed was four minutes faster than my watch. One was wrong - fortunately, it was the board not my watch.

Mjøndalen went closest to grabbing a winner as Lars Cramer produced a superb save to turn over a close-range shot from Bjarne Ingebretsen in the 77th minute.

0-1 Joachim Olsen Solberg (40)
1-1 Chris Joyce (52)