Our support of Helsingborg this summer continues as we follow their progress in the second tier of the Swedish footballing pyramid.
Match days seven and eight saw Helsingborg at home against IK Frej and Norrby IF with both games proving to be tougher tests than they otherwise should have been.
When the season kicked off on the first day of, I wondered what kind of season HIF would have in Superettan. Would they be comfortably promoted like Newcastle United were in the Championship or would they struggle to adapt in a lower division like Aston Villa?
As HIF are the biggest club in the division with an average home crowd of 7,417, this season they should, all things being equal, be able to outspend their rivals for promotion. However, as we know, crowd size and reputation does not always attract the best players.
Like most smaller European leagues, the better players are usually cherry picked by the bigger leagues and arguably HIF’s best player last season, Jordan Larsson, transferred to NEC in Holland’s Eredivisie.
For reference, the team with the second biggest average attendance in Superettan is Örgryte IS FF with an average home crowd of 3,600.
But so far so good. Going into round seven of the season, HIF remained unbeaten but a little way off top of the table. With three draws and three wins from the first six games it was a case of trying to remain unbeaten while building confidence and momentum in pursuit of promotion.
Helsingborgs IF v IK Frej
It was with mixed feelings that you left Olympia after the game. On the one hand you were satisfied that HIF are now the only unbeaten team in the division yet on the other hand, disappointed that they could only manage a draw
As soon as the fourth minute, Surprise made it 1-0 to HIF after a terrible defence mistake by IK Frej. Immediately, you felt that this could be a nice afternoon where the hosts would show their class and play the away team off the park. How wrong can you be?
Peter Larsson had to be withdrawn from the line up before the start of the match and Frederik Helstrup took his place. Unfortunately, there is a reason that the Dane has been on the bench in recent matches rather than in the starting line up, the class he showed up at the beginning of his HIF career something of a distant memory.
In addition to this there has been a lot of dubious interventions by the HIF goalkeeper this season so it is understandable that the defence were a little nervous during the match and not on quite as sure of themselves as usual.
Helstrup helped pave the way for the visitors to get back on level terms when he cleared the ball to Frej’s Pontus Åsbrink who shot from distance. It was quite an unremarkable shot yet HIF’s goalkeeper Pyzdrowski managed to not reach the ball and it crept into the far corner to make it 1-1.
The second half saw the game become somewhat more open and both teams managed to create a few half-chances. Despite introducing a couple of substitutes, HIF were not allowed to play their usual game, yet, in the 86th minute, they managed to score a late goal which the home fans thought would give them all three points and catch the division leaders, IF Brommapojkarna.
Max Svensson took a free kick that Jesper Lange flicked towards goal but Frej’s goalkeeper saved it and up popped Alex Timossi Andersson to slot in the rebound. It was the sixteen-year-old player’s first goal in the first team and the talented youngster seemed to saved the day for HIF making it 2-1.
Readers of my previous updates about HIF will probably guess what’s coming next.
With just one minute left of normal time HIF conceded yet another late goal which saw them throw away all three points. Grabbing a draw from the jaws of victory.
IK Frej’s Danilo Kuzmanovic had the freedom down the left side and once he made it into the penalty area he placed a shot into the far corner to make it 2-2.
The shot was not entirely untouchable for Pyzdrowski but somehow he managed to make it look like it was.
Final Score: 2-2
Helsingborgs IF v Norrby IF
Viktor Ljung finally made his home debut and Max Svensson nicked a place in the starting line up at the expense of Martin Christensen. Regardless, it only took fifty seconds before the visitors took the lead at a sunny, but fairly empty Olympia.
The shock at conceding a goal in the opening minute gave HIF a wake up call and they seemed to spring into life, but sluggish passing and weak finishing symbolised large parts of the game for them in the first half.
At the same time, Norrby IF was a constant threat with countless counter-attacks. In addition, Pyzdrowski showed why he has come under a lot of criticism recently by displaying consistently poor positioning.
After twenty-five minutes HIF’s pressure paid off when Oke Akpoveta headed the ball into the net at the near post to make it 1-1 and just a few minutes later he could have scored again but his shot went wide of the post.
The pace increased significantly and Norrby IF were struggling to keep up and on the half hour mark Jesper Lange powered home a low shot after a nice cross by Surprise found the striker by the penalty spot to make it 2-1.
Unfortunately, the tide turned for HIF and the pace of the game slowed and allowed Norrby IF back into the match. It was obvious HIF would concede sooner or later and before the break the visitors scored when Nicklas Savolainen headed in a corner kick to make it 2-2.
The introduction of Calle Johansson for Frederik Helstrup at half time helped the back line look more assured and in turn it helped HIF start to find their way back into the game and they managed to create some nice chances.
It was fifty-eight minutes into the match when Jordan Lange scored another goal from a cross by Adam Eriksson and the home side’s lead was restored to 3-2.
The rest of the match continued to be characterised by the lack chances for both teams.
However, HIF created the most dangerous chances and when the referee showed a second yellow card to Kardo Aso after an elbow on Adam Eriksson late on allowing the crowd inside Olympia to breath a little more easily. Despite an unnecessarily exciting end to the game, baring in mind HIF’s habit of conceding late goals, they managed to see the game out and take all three points.
It was a far from beautiful game but they were three much needed points in the pursuit of promotion.
Final Score: 3-2
The matches against IK Frej and Norrby IF clearly show that there are no easy opponents in the Superettan and HIF will have to improve if they are to gain promotion without giving most of their fans heart attacks.
- 22/05/2017 – Östers IF (a)
- 27/05/2017 – Syrianska FC (h)
- 03/06/2017 – Falkenbergs FF (a)
- 10/06/2017 – IF Brommapojkarna (h)
- 17/06/2017 – Dalkurd FF (a)
- 24/06/2017 – IFK Värnamo (a)
—– Summer Break —–
- 22/07/2017 – Örgryte IS (h)
- 29/07/2017 – Syrianska FC (a)
- 05/08/2017 – Norrby IF (a)
- 08/08/2017 – Åtvidabergs FF (h)
- 12/08/2017 – IK Frej (a)
- 19/08/2017 – GAIS Göteborg (h)
- 26/08/2017 – Trelleborgs FF (a)
- 02/09/2017 – Dalkurd FF (h)
- 09/09/2017 – IF Brommapojkarna (a)
- 16/09/2017 – Varbergs BoIS (h)
- 23/09/2017 – Falkenbergs FF (h)
- 30/09/2017 – Gefle IF (a)
- 14/10/2017 – IFK Värnamo (h)
- 21/10/2017 – Degerfors IF (a)
- 28/10/2017 – Örgryte IS (a)
- 03/11/2017 – Östers IF (h)