After the International break, ADO Den Haag returned to action with a home game against FC Groningen on Sunday afternoon. Before the kick-off there was one minute of silence in honour of the Dutch footballing legend Johan Cruijff who died recently. In addition to this, in the fourteenth minute, play was stopped as the players and fans gave a minutes applause to the memory of the man who wore the famous number 14 orange jersey.
The game saw ADO in control for most of the play. There was one major battle, that between ADO’s leading striker Mike Havenaar and the Groningen keeper Sergio Padt. Sadly for Havenaar, the keeper was in excellent form and denied the forward time after time with some outstanding saves.
ADO’s wingers bombarded the Groningen area with crosses, all aiming for Havenaar. His first chance coming in the third minute when he headed just wide of the post. After ten minutes Ruben Schaken sent in a cross, Havenaar rose clear of three defenders, the powerful header going towards top corner, only for Padt to react with cat like reflexes to turn the ball away.
Thirty minutes into the game saw a moment that gave ADO a huge advantage. Groningen’s Michael de Leeuw had a clash with Tommie Beugelsdijk. The ADO cult hero reacted angrily, believing that de Leeuw had dived. De Leeuw got to his feet, then thrust his head into the side of Beugelsdijk. No reaction from Tommie, but referee Bas Nijhuis saw the intention and showed a straight red card. ADO now had a man advantage for an hour.
In the thirty fifth minute Beugelsdijk floated in a perfect cross toward the penalty spot. Kevin Jansen headed goalwards, Padt yet again forced into making a great save. Those were the high points of the first half. On any other day ADO would have been at least two goals up.
The second half began with ADO replacing Ludcinio Marengo for Timothy Derijck, allowing a more attacking options. Marengo was an instant threat, him along with Schaken cause numerous problems for the visitors. Fifty three minute in, a cross from Marengo found Havenaar at the far post, his header was going wide, Jansen almost squeezed the ball home, but missed.
Fifty six minutes played and Aaron Meijers sent in a hard and low cross into the near post, Havenaar flung himself full stretch to make good contact, the ball looked to be going in, only for Padt to win the duel again with another reaction save. ADO continued to attack down the flanks, but with the ten man defence, they couldn’t crack Groningen.
It was not until the sixty fifth minute that Groningen had their first sight of goal, and a great effort it was. Jesper Drost found himself in space, ADO players backed off allowing him to strike the ball with power from around 25m out. The ball was curling in just below the cross bar, only a reflex save from Martin Hansen, matching Padt’s earlier saves kept the score at 0-0.
That should have been a warning to ADO, one that was not learned. Groningen broke from inside their own area and passed fluently forward, until a clumsy challenge saw them awarded a free kick about 33m from goal. The ADO fans were doing the Haagse Kwartiertje as Hansen lined up his wall, then Rasmus Lindgren hit an unbelievably powerful shot that went like an arrow into the back of the net in the seventy sixth minute giving the Danish keeper no chance, stunning strike, 0-1.
Not until the game went into five minutes of added time did ADO threaten to fight back. Havenaar again having a great chance blocked by his nemesis Padt. In the final thirty seconds Havenaar went close as he headed just over the bar. Then that was that. Groningen had snatched victory that was not deserved, they rode their luck and were able to rely on a keeper who produced a real top class performance.