ADO Den Haag 0-1 FC Twente
An expectant crowd and glorious sunshine greeted the arrival of ADO and their opponents FC Twente, who were runners up in the race for the league crown last season. The English manager Steve McLaren has stated that he wants to see his team win the title this time around and wants to force the running in their matches. After such comments, I wondered how the opening exchanges would turn out; especially after ADO had been so unlucky in their last two fixtures. Only one point from a possible six just does not even begin to do justice to ADO’s play and pressure on the opposition. Fingers crossed for the next ninety minutes.
Well AZ did not come out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, that’s for sure. ADO gained the first corner after only a few seconds, unfortunately it was totally wasted. Early exchanges were pretty dire, in fact, watching the grass grow would have ben a little more entertaining. It was not until the sixteenth minute that a serious threat was made on either goal. FC Twentes Slobodan Rajkovic moved down the left and played a simple ball to the feet of Kenneth Perez who skillfully chipped a delicate pass forward to Bryan Ruiz who was left by the ADO defence. Barry Ditewig in the ADO goal; their fourth choice keeper, quickly closed him down and managed to stand up tall and strong and block the shot.
The following twenty minutes FC Twente had most of the ball possession but did absolutely nothing with it. It kept the home team at bay though and was making life difficult for ADO to get in to the game. The only thing of any note was a bit of silliness when the ball was rolling out of play near the subs benches and ADO’s manager Raymond Atteveld went to pick up the ball after it had gone out for a throw in. For some odd reason or rush of blood to the head, Twentes Theo Janssen went through and knocked in to Atteveld quite hard. Which; in footballing terms means time for a scuffle of sorts with the handbags out, totally uncalled for and pathetic.
As the half reached its end, the excitement grew. Forty minutes played and FC Twente move the ball across the pitch from left to right with quick and effective one touch passing. The ball finally reaching Ronnie Stam whose neat ball into Blaise Nkufo was met with a tame but well executed volley that was punched clear by Ditewig. A minute later ADO had earned themselves a corner on the left. Verhoek played the ball in, falling nicely to an unmarked Kun in the penalty area. He plays the ball back to the oncoming Buijs who strikes the ball with power but no calmness and the ball flies high over the bar. The half time whistle was greeted by cheers and applause by the home fans. Not a great game, but against last seasons runners up, it was going well.
Second half began with ADO deciding to show who the home team in this game was. After three minutes of the half starting Buijs earns a corner on the left. Ball is headed well clear by Rajkovic, but falls twenty metres out to waiting Verhoek who instantly fires a shot towards the goal, beating the keeper and the bars by the smallest of margins.
Fifty seven minutes played and Nkufo gets the ball on the byline, shows some nice foot work and clips in a cross to Ruiz who is unmarked and yet he places his header wide of the post. Clear chance to take the lead; wasted. FC Twente start to gain the advantage, pressing ADO hard, not letting them settle on the ball. Fifty nine minutes and Stam the FC Twente right back finds himself space and goes for goal, dragging his shot wide of the post, a let off again for ADO.
Finally the game is becoming more of an attacking spectacle. FC Twente tries to build up an attack from the midfield. Now it is ADO’s turn to apply the pressure on players in possession of the ball. It pays dividends as the pressure causes Twente defender Stam to make a pass back to his keeper Sander Boschker. The ball is hit hard and is difficult for Boschker to control. The onrushing Powell just misses claiming the ball, but forces the keeper to rush his clearance. From that panicked clearance it took four one touch incisive passes through the centre of the pitch to reach Nkufo who calmly slotted a precision shot passed a helpless Ditewig, 0-1. That was Nkufo’s 104 goal for FC Twente, making him the all time highest goal scorer. Now has himself a place in the clubs history books.
Sixty eight minutes almost saw the visitors extend their lead. A cross in from the right from Cheik Tiote was met on the run by Perez whose header was downward, but too close to his own feet as the ball bounced just over the bar when it looked easier to score. Eighty three minutes and a chance falls to ADO. A long ball pumped forward by Ammi on the half way line is headed on by Bogdan Milic, Derijck controls brilliantly to turn and shoot only for Boschker to equal the skill to make a fine save.
With time running out, ADO presses on to a slowing Twente midfield and defence. ADO are looking the stronger; a big change from last season. Into four minutes of added time. A long clearance from Ditewig is collected by Powell whose quick, intelligent cross reaches an unmarked Horvath in the penalty area, with the goal gaping and the keeper struggling; his header was woefully poor and bounced weakly wide of the upright.
In the ninety third minute game should have been over. FC Twente makes an attack down the left flank with Janssen and Nkufo. They work a superb one two to allow a cross into an empty area and an on rushing Romano Denneboom. The excitement got to him I think, as he flung himself into a spectacular diving header which just cleared the bar. If he had kept his cool, that would have been the end for ADO.
In to the final minute of injury time. ADO are awarded a free kick on the half way line. Atteveld waves his keeper forward to the opposition penalty area. The crescendo of noise was almost deafening as the home crowd roared their encouragement. A well flighted ball in to the penalty area causes panic in the Twente ranks and is forced out for a corner. The kick is taken quickly towards the near post. Nkufo swings a tired leg to clear, only for him to slice it badly causing the ball to spin towards the top corner of his own goal, only for Boschker to save his blushes by plucking the ball out of the air.
The final whistle blew and ADO supporters cheered their teams’ efforts. The one hundred or so visiting fans were going mental in their area, joyfully dancing around in celebration. In my opinion, Twente were there for the taking. They were not convincing at all. If ADO had attacked them throughout the match as they did near the end of the game, they could have easily taken at least a point from this encounter. At times ADO play like the visiting team, not the home team. They should force the opposition on the back foot more, make them work harder. However; it was good to see the energy levels high at the end of the game, which was ADO’s downfall last season. Unfortunately one point from three games is not enough. But the play as improved and the fitness looks better. I am confident they will not be in a relegation battle come the end of the season. Have to also take in to consideration the fact that their first choice keepers are out, plus players missing due to red cards. So all in all, ADO should be happy with the way they played.
Man of the Match: Berry Powell. He ran and chased after absolutely everything. Battled tirelessly for the team and forced several errors in the visitors’ backline. Great attitude.