Heracles Almelo 3 v 0 ADO Den Haag
The final game of the regular season saw ADO travel away to Heracles Almelo. The talk before the game was what sort of team would John van den Brom select? Some thought ADO would be fielding a strong team, to really go for a victory and hope to secure fifth spot, which would mean better fixture schedule for the play-offs, whereas others thought that some of the more valuable players may be rested allowing some fringe players to play, so protecting the stars from injury before the play-offs. As soon as the team sheets were given out to the press it seemed that ADO were going to go for the win as they put out a very strong team However, no matter what ADO thought, they were in for a tough game as Heracles had to win to ensure their play-off spot, as any slip up could allow FC Utrecht to snatch their place.
The game kicked off and I am sure that the ADO team had stayed in the changing room. There was no effort to get the ball forward, there were only several slow build ups by Heracles who totally dominated the first forty five minutes, and they must have had easily 75% of the possession. Thankfully the back line managed to turn in a superb defensive display of tight marking and perfectly timed tackling. Kum, Derijck, Leeuwin and especially Pique stood their ground and dealt with everything Heracles threw at them. They didn’t get much help from those in front of them, all but the defence seemed to have a lack lustred approach to this game, why? I really had no idea.
Chief tormentor of the ADO rear guard was the same man who looked rather special in the reverse fixture. Willie Overtoom and his partner in crime up front Samuel Armenteros gave ADO nothing but headaches. These two players were certainly up for a game and looked like they wanted the win far more than ADO. How ADO managed to go in at half time without conceding a goal was truly unbelievable. In fact, there was only one golden opportunity to score and only a great reaction save by Coutinho prevented a goal bound effort by Armenteros hitting the back of the net.
The second half began in much the same way the first half ended: Heracles being the more positive in their approach play and forcing Coutinho into some desperate action. You could physically feel that a goal was coming and that it was not going to be ADO’s. The only shock was that it took so long to come.
In the seventy second minute the referee, Ed Jansen awarded the home side a penalty kick after Derijck was adjudged to have impeded Armenteros. Overtoom placed the ball on the penalty spot and calmly sent the ball straight down the middle as Coutinho dived to his left, 1-0.
As the clock reached the final five minutes, Heracles broke quickly down the right, the interplay between Glynor Plet and Overtoom was of real quality, a final back heel by Plet into the path of Overtoom who knocked it easily past the ADO keeper who stood no real chance, excellent play by Heracles, 2-0.
Eighty eight minutes played and the ADO defence went AWOL. A simple cross by Mark-Jan Fledderus simply was not dealt with properly, Three ADO defenders around the penalty spot and still some how Armenteros found himself with the ball at his feet to score the third Heracles goal.
ADO finally got a sniff of goal in the ninetieth minute: Toornstra making space for himself to shoot just outside the penalty area only for him to see his left footed effort smash against the far post and back into play where Heracles raced up field and only another fine block by Coutinho prevented a sucker punch goal by Plet..
At the final whistle both teams applauded their followers who responded likewise. Maybe it is just me, but I feel a certain sense of trepidation as the play-offs approach. During the past few weeks, ADO’s performances have become more sluggish as if their heroic exploits of earlier this year are now catching up on them? Hopefully this is a way for the team to conserve energy as the big games loom again so soon, who knows? Only time will tell; starting with this coming Thursday night.
ADO man of the match: Mitchell Pique, His defensive performance io the first half alone was superb, as was the performances of the either defender, but Pique stood out.
Attendance; 8, 481