Elise Thorsnes’ fifth minute strike was all to separate Avaldsnes and Vålerenga when they clashed for the third time this year, VIF without a win over the league runners up all year, their first appearance in the cup final not a happy one as Avaldsnes claimed their first cup win.
Thorsnes strikes an early blow
Coming into the match with a strong history against Vålerenga, Avaldsnes wasted no time in showing their case and pressing the team making their NM final debut. VIF barely given any room to counter, those in red instantly all over them, their pressure telling as the clock ran hit the five-minute mark. Lost on the overlap by her marker, captain Elise Thorsnes latched onto a threaded ball as she cut inside, dashing into the box and rolling the ball past Michelle Betos.
A goal to the good and still hounding their opposition, Betos found herself in no-man’s-land at an early corner, Andreia Rosa’s ferocious header crashing against her bar with the box flooded, Cecilie Pedersen’s follow-up comfortably over.
Vålerenga, the “away” team for the purposes of the tie began to settle going forward and saw more and more joy down the right wing as Theresa Nielsen warmed into the match, looking to tear in the artificial turf. An opportunistic curler from Elise Krieghoff had Katie Fraine scampering across her goal to make sure the ball didn’t creep in, the resulting short corner punched clear by the American who suddenly had work to do.
Second goal goes begging
A smart ball in behind and an even smarter unchecked run from Pedersen almost saw Avaldsnes double their advantage, Betos committed but tight enough to the attacker to push her wide and snuff out the chance. From one “should have been” at one end to another at the other as Maren Hauge peeled off and raced onto a through ball, the attacker with Andreia for company as she raced into the box and took the ball past Fraine. It was suddenly all to much for the attacker however and she got her feet in a tangle amongst the ball, ‘keeper and persistent centre back.
With VIF pushing up looking for an equaliser it was inevitable that they’d leave themselves vulnerable on the counter, Avaldsnes the more composed unit as they cut forward, looking to further their lead. The team in red on the verge of their second, but unable to dig one out, even with Pedersen trying to force the issue with a lash from 30-yards that clipped the bar.
Largely second best throughout the first half, VIF very nearly found parity in stoppage time, Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir’s smart pass reaching Ellen Wang, the defender’s first time effort well over Fraine’s bar.
Visitors open it up
Showing more attacking panache after the break, VIF repeatedly had the ball in and around the six-yard box over the first five minutes of the second half, the final touch not there, the player usually behind the play. The match soon evened out and the side from Rogaland once more began carving out their own chances, the visitors still lacking the requisite understanding to make their own chances count.
As the match ticked beyond the hour the game got more frantic, bodies flying left, right and centre, defence pitted against attack at both ends of the pitch. Despite the scoreline both teams were incensed, playing as if they were goal down with seconds of the game left. Still the seconds ticked down, Vålerenga getting closer and closer to parity as red and white both went flying in the box, Fraine and her defence perilously stretched. A breathless passage of play twenty minutes from time should have spelled an equaliser, last ditch blocks and challenges followed every strike of the ball from a VIF foot, the goal refusing to come.
A stoppage in play caused the visitors to lose their momentum as the game began to tick into the last knockings, Thorsnes’ opener looking for all the world like the only goal in it. The last seconds of stoppage time dissolved away and, after their third appearance in the NM final, Avaldsnes finally had their hands on the trophy, VIF left to rue missed chances.