The prelude to the season opening against Esbjerg could have been better, to put it mildly. Four of the last five friendlies had ended with a defeat, and the goals conceded had been plenty.
Many injuries has caused worries, too, but the situation improved before the Royal League restarted at Lerkendal. Ørjan Berg, Miika Koppinen and Robbie Russell was nevertheless out of play, while Vidar Riseth was well enough to occupy the bench. And the home supporters could both welcome Bjørn Tore Kvarme welcome back, and Alexander Ødegaard welcome to the city. Both were solid against Esbjerg, and will most likely be important contributors when RBK in April starts the path that leads to the 14th premiership in a row.
CHEERS: Team mates congratulate match winner Stensaas.
Photo: Royal League/Gorm Kallestad
RBK fully controlled their opponent in the first obligatory match of the year. Named Ødegaard, his wing colleague Braaten, and the wing backs Dorsin and Stensaas, often came round on the sides and made passes that created good chances.
But a leading goal didn't come for very long. Frode Johnsen, withdrawn striker for the time being, got closest before the break, when he hit the crossbar. When the stadium watch showed 75 minutes, RBK still weren't closer to a score.
"Still, I wasn't nervous. I felt that the Rosenborg machinery worked, and when it ticks and goes like it does, it will end in a goal," Rune Skarsfjord says to rbkweb.com.
The absolutely convinced co-coach was luckily right. About ten minutes before the end, Mikael Dorsin was clipped down 25 metres from the goal, to the right. Back colleague Stensaas placed the ball, and hammered it into the nearest corner with a beautiful banana bend! Wonderful for the 5 000 frozen spectators!
"My best free kick ever!" a happy match winner stated.
Esbjerg tried to pick up the pace towards the end, but a solid RBK defence stopped whatever they tried. In all, the back four seemed solid; and Riseth, Basma, Russell and Koppinen will all have to fight hard for a place on the team when they are back from injuries and sickness.
At the same time as RBK won against the guests from Jylland, Vålerenga took an 1-0 victory against Djurgården. In reality, both the Norwegian teams are qualified for the 2nd group stages. And when Thursday comes, VIF will see once and for all what team is the better!
PS 1: Heavy snow in Trondheim Friday and early Saturday didn't make the field crew nervous. The grass was safely covered by plastic, and was in an impressing state for February.
PS 2! Espen Johnsen suffers from the flu and had to give in at half time. Our reserve goalkeeper Ivar Rønningen hence got his home debut. Congratulations, Ivar!
Ståle Stensaas 78
Saturday Feb 12th 2005 16:00 Royal League, 1st group stage, Lerkendal stadium
Rosenborg [4-3-3] Espen Johnsen (Ivar Rønningen 46) - Mikael Dorsin, Bjørn Tore Kvarme, Erik Hoftun, Ståle Stensaas - Jan Gunnar Solli, Frode Johnsen, Roar Strand (Alexander Tettey 73) - Alexander Ødegaard (Harald Brattbakk 83), Thorstein Helstad, Daniel Braaten