FC Utrecht 0-2 ADO Den Haag
Well it does not stop getting any tougher for ADO in their fight for Eredivisie survival. Last weekend a soul destroying last minute defeat to title chasing Ajax now followed by a daunting visit to the Stadion Galgenwaard, the home of FC Utrecht. Utrecht are still chasing the final place in next seasons Europa league competition, so were to be no push over’s. The ADO keeper Barry Ditewig has been banned from playing in this match and the next, due to his red card last weekend. Zwinkels is still out injured, so Coutinho was back between the sticks. To add to the mounting pressure, the ADO players did not have any backing from their loyal supporters, as they are not allowed to travel to this game. So it was down to the players own mental strength, grit and determination to pull themselves of the dire position they find themselves in.
Well From the kick off ADO went for the jugular. Within two minutes some of the Utrecht players were already looking shell shocked from the barrage ADO threw at them. They did not look a happy team at all and arguments could be heard amongst their ranks.
Despite the uneasy start for Utrecht, they got the first sight of a goal on fifteen minutes. It was basically the first time they had ventured in to the ADO half. Dries Mertens was played in down the left side. The control was instant and his lay off to Nana Asare was perfect. Asare’s delivery was teasing and beat the ADO back line easily; unfortunately it also beat the outstretched leg of the onrushing Ricky van Wolfswinkel. A golden opportunity missed.
Seventeen minutes in and ADO’s midfield domination pays dividends. A good interchange of quick passing between Ammi, Buijs and Verhoek saw Verhoek get to the by-line and whip in a dangerous cross. No ADO player was close, but the Utrecht defender, Mark van der Maarel failed to clear the ball. His attempted clearance went straight to Buijs who right footed drove the ball low in to the back of the net from just inside the area. Buijs ran straight to the team bench to celebrate the goal; 0-1.
The game then ebbed and flowed in ADO’s favour, no clear cut chance by either team. ADO just holding their line, allowing Utrecht to keep possession in their own half of the pitch, but as soon as crossed into ADO territory, they hunted in a pack to retrieve the ball allowing for quick counter attacks which fizzled out each time. ADO were working hard for each other and Utrecht’s midfield could not stamp the home advantage on to the lowly placed visitors.
Utrecht pushed forward in the forty second minute. Jan Wuytens played a ball forward in to the feet of Asare who tried a fancy flick to lay the ball off to a colleague. The flick was intercepted and a quick pass released Immers to move on the attack. An optimistic ball forward in to space caused a race between Verhoek and the Utrecht keeper Michel Vorm. Verhoeks’s pace got him to the ball first by just a metre. Right footed he passed the ball under Vorm and started to celebrate as the ball rolled in to the back of an empty net. Verhoek raced across to the ADO bench and went straight to Ricky v/d Bergh and celebrated with him and so did the other players. As I was sitting close to the ADO dug out, I could hear the shouts of Ricky! Ricky! I am guessing this was a show of support and love to v/d Bergh who was unhappy with the previous management and had stated he wanted to leave ADO at the end of the season. The emotion on the face of Verhoek and v/d Bergh spoke volumes. It was great to see that bond in a team fighting for their top flight status; 0-2.
The first thirty minutes of the second was at best, lack lustre. Mainly it was FC Utrecht doing all the huffing and puffing, but failing to break down ADO’s defensive wall. It wasn’t until the seventy fifth minute that the half came to life. Utrecht took a throw in on the right hand side. ADO cleared their lines only for the ball to be returned by Tim Cornelisse. His lobbed punt forward was headed high in to the air by Alje Shut. The ball was watched closely by Jacob Mulenga who positioned himself and set himself to hit a superbly executed overhead bicycle kick. The shot that was goal bound was forced away magnificently by a diving Coutinho, preventing what would have been the goal of the season.
Two minutes later Utrecht once again threatened the ADO goal. A free kick on the right was swung in to the box by Mertens. Coutinho managed to get a fist to it, but did not get good contact. The ball falling on the edge of the penalty box, where Asare rifled a low shot towards goal. A joint effort of Coutinho and Kum managed to clear of the goal line.
The atmosphere inside the stadium was great to begin with, home support were obviously expecting an easy three points. Their band was loud and proud in the stand. Again it is such a shame that visiting fans for this match was not allowed. Any ADO fan would have enjoyed every minute of the days events. After the final whistle, the Utrecht players gathered in the centre circle to salute their fans. The crescendo of boos that rang out from all four sides of the ground was deafening. The Utrecht supporters letting their players know exactly how they felt.
ADO had their third choice keeper in goal today, Gino Coutinho. He also started in goal at the beginning of the season when ADO were gaining most of their points. Is it just coincidence that today he returned to action and ADO beat the team with the second best home defensive record quite easily? Does he exude so much self confidence that the defenders trust him completely, allowing them to push up and help with the midfield battle, where every game is won or lost? Maybe there is something behind this?
ADO finally got a result that their performance deserved. They deserved one point, even three against Ajax. Today the endeavour and hard work reaped its reward. Despites all the extra time added on by the referee; five minutes in the first half and another four minutes at the end. ADO never looked troubled throughout. If they produce this in the final three games they would be safe, and all the last games are most definitely winnable.
ADO Man of the Match: Today was a tough choice. It was a direct choice between Soltani and Buijs. Both players ran tirelessly and fought for everything. Their hearts and soul went in to this game, but as I have to choose one. I make Buijs man of the match. This is only because he got his name on the score sheet.
Attendance: 21 300