Late Sunday afternoon ADO Den Haag played their biggest away game of the season, the trip to Ajax of Amsterdam. This is the game everybody wants to win. It really is a shame that the ADO supporters are not allowed in the ArenA to back their team.
ADO came so close to getting a point. The team as one played with effort and tenacity. They chased every ball, gave no Ajax player a chance to settle on the ball. They really worked hard for trainer Henk Fraser. To come away with nothing was an injustice.
The first half was a very boring forty five minutes. ADO sitting back, allowing Ajax all the possession they wanted in their own half, but as soon as they were in ADO territory, the visitors were on them. It was a great disciplined play. It was amazing how lethargic Ajax were considering championship leaders PSV had lost earlier, this was their chance to make up ground. Yes they showed no urgency at all and their fans were soon on their backs, whistling and booing. ADO’s Gianni Zuiverloon was working so hard at the back, he was showing so much authority and leadership, he broke up so much Ajax play they must have hated the sight of him.
The only action of note in the first half came in the one minute of injury time. It was also the first true strike on goal. Ricardo van Rhijn hit a long range shot from outside the penalty area through a group of players, yet the unsighted keeper Martin Hansen was able to react quickly to block with his legs.
The second half made for much better viewing. Ajax came at ADO and ADO started to make quick breaks forward. In the fifty eighth minute Aleksandr Iakovenko tried a long range curling shot, the ball took a deflection and went just wide of the upright. From the resulting corner, Michiel Kramer flung himself forward and his header just went wide of the post.
All of ADO’s work was shattered in the eightieth minute. A free-kick by Lasse Schöne was whipped across the area, a touch by anybody would have caused problems, Ajax forward Davy Klaassen reacted quickest and poked the ball home, giving Hansen no chance to save it, 1-0.
Momentarily the heads of the ADO players dropped, they looked deflated, yet they were soon back at their hosts. Iakovenko got more into the game down the left wing and was cutting inside or putting balls into the danger area. Ajax struggled to clear their lines, but they were hanging on.
Into injury time and ADO really went for it, within minutes ADO had two great chances to earn a point. First Roland Alberg dragged a shot just wide of the post, Ajax suffering squeaky bum time. Then shortly after as the clock counted down, Xander Houtkoop took a corner on the left hand side. The ball was well cleared, yet ADO fought and got the ball back. Houtkoop again crossed the ball, it eventually fell to Kevin Jansen, he stepped sidewards and struck a shot from 22m out, it was hard and true but sadly straight at Jasper Cillessen in the Ajax goal. That was it, game over.
ADO are still yet to wain away from home and with six games remaining of the season, they can see relegation staring at them from below. However, they play as commited as they did today and with that work ethic, they will be fine.
ADO man of the Match: Gianni Zuiverloon.