On Saturday evening ADO Den Haag went to Alkmaar to take on AZ in high spirits after two successive wins. Another three points would see them safe from relegation, and with the backing of a boisterous away support of 509, things were looking positive.
The feel good factor soon left ADO as the game soon became a slow disjointed affair. Skill was at a premium as early on both sides gave the ball away far too easily. The play mostly in the middle third of the field was mostly uninspiring to watch.
The first action came in the eighth minute when AZ broke down the right wing. The ball played into the area, ADO to get away with some sloppy defending as the ball came out nicely for Markus Henriksen who hit his shot directly at Martin Hansen.
The lack of urgency from both sides killed off the atmosphere within the AFAS stadium, apart from the one corner where the ADO fans were seated. They were in good voice and constantly kept the AZ supporters awake with their singing.
In the twenty eighth minute AZ took the lead. Dabney dos Santos collected the ball in the centre of the pitch, rolled the ball inside to the onrushing Nemanja Gudelj. From 30m out he put his foot straight through the ball with such power that even when Hansen could reach the shot with both hands, he still could not prevent the ball hitting the back of the net, stunning strike, 1-0.
ADO got their only chance of the first half in the thirty seventh minute. Aleksandr Iakovenko broke clear. He raced into the penalty and was being forced wider with every step by an AZ defender. Michiel Kramer was unmarked on the other side of the box, yet Iakovenko opted to shoot and his effort was well wide. If looks could kill, Kramer would be guilty of murder, a great opportunity wasted.
The second half saw ADO instantly on the attack, they pushed forward in numbers and eventually Dion Malone crossed the ball into the danger area where Danny Bakker saw his powerful header just go wide of the upright.
Fifty five minutes played and ADO get back on level terms. They attack down the left after a weak throw in from the hosts. Bakker played in Roland Alberg whose quick pass towards the penalty spot found Wilson Eduardo. He did not control the ball well, but lucky the ball seemed attracted to his boot as he swivelled and got his shot away passed Esteban in the AZ goal and into the back of the net, 1-1.
Four minutes later and ADO were behind again. Kramer gave away a free-kick 25m from goal. Despite the defensive wall and a full length dive by Hansen, Derrick Luckassen curled the shot over the wall and just inside the post, another great goal from AZ, 2-1.
After going in front the home side came to life and Guus Hupperts became a huge thorn in ADO’s side. He was creating havoc for the ADO defence. Chances started to come quickly for AZ but the could not convert the openings, that was until the sixty fifth minute. Hupperts again was down the right, pulled the ball back to where Gudelj was lurking and he placed his first time shot into the back of the net giving Hansen no chance, 3-1.
Despite being over as a contest, the enjoyment level for spectators improved. First as ADO had two good chances to score. First a shot on the turn by Gervane Kastaneer forced a reaction save from Esteban. This was soon followed by a flying header from Kramer that was just wide. Then it was AZ’s turn to go attack crazy. In the final six minutes ADO’s Danish keeper had to make four good saves in quick succession.
At the final whistle, and despite losing 3-1. The ADO supporters were singing, showing scarves and really enjoying themselves and showing support for their team. Hopefully the team will respond to this great support when they take on Vitesse at home next Friday night.
ADO man of the match: Martin Hansen. Could have been so much worse if not for his numerous saves late on.