ADO 1 v 0 FC Utrecht
ADO has played two away games since there last home match against Excelsior. The games at FC Twente resulted in a spirited 3-2 defeat. The game decided by some dubious decisions going against the Haagenaars. The Real bad news from this game was the injury to Bulykin who hurt his hamstring when scoring ADO’s first goal. First reports ruling him out for at least five to six weeks, now seeming more like two after an MRI scan.
The midweek game at Groningen saw ADO lose this game 3-1 after taking the lead. ADO yet again showed lots of attacking flare and had opportunities to double that lead during the first half. The good sign is ADO are still creating plenty of chances away from home.
The game against Utrecht had added spice due to Utrecht fans being allowed to attend for the first time after a ban. 250 fans were allowed to watch which made for a fantastic atmosphere within the stadium. To keep Utrecht supporters from maybe wishing to create trouble, the clubs have an agreement that if there is no hooliganism, the following season and for the two seasons after, an extra 250 fans will be allowed to travel, this works for both sets of supporters at this game. A great incentive to behave and well thought out.
Both teams have had different run ins to this game, ADO hitting a bit of a sticky patch and Utrecht in a fine run of form with two good wins and a draw in their last three games.
As soon as the game kicked off there was a feeling that this was not going to be a great game to watch, or partake in. With Bulykin, Immers and Buijs all missing changes had to be made and it showed. Not that their replacements played badly, but you could see that the fluency was not there. The team has in recent weeks developed a strong working bond on the pitch, players were where they were expected to be which made the football look effortless. The game today showed a different mentality to ADO’s play. There was a “we’re in it together” feel. The play was not attractive, but the work rate was superb. The game was also not so much of a spectacle as Utrecht didn’t seem to be up for this match either. Whereas last season teams were coming to ADO and knew they were in for a chance of taking points away with them, this season, teams see ADO as a danger and today it showed as Utrecht were more concerned with stopping ADO than creating their own chances, especially in the first half.
The first action of note in the game took place in twenty first minute. After a bout of head tennis in midfield, a quite exchange of passes saw the ball go out wide on the right to Toornstra. The cross was delivered invitingly to the penalty spot where Immers looked set to pounce. The Utrecht defender Alje Schut poked a foot out and diverted the ball, some how it squirmed its way through and around Michel Vorm in the Utrecht goal.
In the thirty eighth minute there was a sickening blow to the Utrecht team. Jacob Mulanga went up for a header, there was no physical challenge, but as he landed he somehow hurt his knee. The ADO players closest to him immediately called for medical assistance. After several minutes Mulanga was taken from the field of play. Early suggestions are that he will be out for the rest of the season due to some suspected tears to tendon or ligaments around his right knee.
Just as the clocked ticked past the forty five minute mark ADO were awarded a throw in on the right side. Verhoek took it and got the ball straight back, his cross to the far side found v/d Bergh. A quick look up and a flighted ball saw Immers rise clear and head the ball home, a very nice move, 1-0.
.In the forth minute of first half injury time, Utrecht were given a free kick. The ball was played in to a packed penalty area. The Utrecht player Schut climbed magnificently above everybody, his header beat Coutinho and crashed against the post. The rebound luckily fell in to the arms of a relieved keeper as he turned expectantly to see the ball in the back of the net.
The first half wasn’t great, but the second half was a dull dire affair. That was until sixty two minutes were played and Utrecht made a substitution, taking Jan Wuytens off and replacing him with the giant Frank Demouge. Demouge then set about the ADO defence battering them with his body strength; this certainly gave Utrecht the upper hand.
Seventy four minutes played and Demouge was again at the heart of everything that Utrecht was doing. The ball was not dealt with by the ADO defence as Demouge held them at bay; the ball came out wide to Dries Mertens, he used his speed to get to the by line, beating two defenders, as he moved in on goal Coutinho moved out to meet him. Mertens shot was hard but was direct in to the body of the ADO keeper who had got his angles perfectly correct.
Utrecht kept applying the pressure and was unlucky in my opinion not to be awarded a penalty kick. A ball in to the penalty box saw Demouge set himself to head the ball for what would have been an equalizing goal. As he set himself Derijck came across him using his body and felled Demouge. From my view it looked a clear penalty. The Utrecht management, players and fans went crazy in their penalty claims, but were waved away by the referee. Straight from this action the ball was pumped down the field for Verhoek to chase. A slight challenge stoped him from getting the ball. As he stopped running he grabbed his hamstring and went to ground, immediately signalling he could no longer continue. I was only 2m away from him and could see he was not happy. There is no news as of yet what the problem is, but for ADO’s sake, I hope it is not a serious problem. As he was being treated, the Utrecht manager and coach were remonstrating with the linesman and forth official about the denied penalty. The trainer Jan Wouters went too far and ended up being sent off by the referee.
In the ninety forth minute Utrecht were still pushing hard for that elusive goal to draw level. A desperate ball into the box saw Demouge head the ball downwards towards the inside of the left hand post, only to be thwarted by a stunning diving save from Coutinho. A few seconds later and the final whistle blew.
ADO got themselves three hard earned points. This again proves how much ADO have improved on last season when they were all too often conceding late goals and dropping valuable points. Now, as a team, they are fighting for every minute of the game. There is a great spirit in the team, a never say die mentality which is great for the fans to see. Utrecht was unlucky not to get a share of the points, but it was not to be their day. I suppose after getting some bad decisions in the previous two defeats for ADO, they got some luck today. A gutsy performance!
ADO man of the match: Lex Immers; Goal scorer and ran his heart out for the team, great effort throughout.