KVC Westerlo – KAA Gent

Line up KVC Westerlo: S. Bolat, B. Reynolds (88’ I. Vetokele), R. Neustaedter, R. Tagir (45’ R. Seigers), M. De Cuyper, L. Van Eenoo ©, T. Van den Keybus, N. Chadli (68’ E. Jordanov) , K. Vaesen (88’ M. Gumuskaya), D. Nene (78’ Y. Matsuo), M. Fixelles

Line up KAA GENT: P. Nardi, J. Okumu, K. Piatkowski (52’ Hauge), M. Ngadeu, H. Hong, H. Cuypers, J. De Sart, A. Castro-Montes, E. Orban, J. Torunarigha, S. Kums ©

Perhaps one of the most interesting duels of matchday 25 in the Jupiler Pro League. Our Kemphans, who currently find themselves in a nice 7th spot, host the number 5 side from Ghent. Beforehand, the difference between the two teams was only 3 points, a win will put our Kemphans on a tie with the Buffalo’s and Standard. Westerlo wants to get back on track as soon as possible with a three-point win to flush out the draw at KAS Eupen. On the other hand, KAA Gent are in a lesser period, after 2 losses they too want to break this negative run. In short, all the ingredients are there to make it a spectacle in ’t Kuipje.

First half. The match took a rather difficult start, our Kemphans clearly intent on going full steam ahead but there was still too much trash in the play of both teams in the opening minutes.

In minute 7 De Cuyper was able to push through but failed to reach a teammate, in the resumption Van Eenoo tried but his shot was blocked by the Gent defence. In minute 10, our Sinan Bolat showed why he is our Kemphans’ number 1, he picked out with a fantastic save on a Castro-Montes’ shot.

Just 2 minutes later, referee Kevin Van Damme was called to the VAR screen, this resulted in a penalty kick for the visitors. Cuypers did not hesitate and kicked the 0-1 into the bottom right corner. Our Kemphans responded immediately, a cross from Fixelles landed on the head of Bryan Reynolds, who headed on a strong Nardi but in the retrieval it was De Cuyper who popped the ball against the nets. 1-1!

After about 20 minutes there was no shortage of spectacle in this match, Bolat again picked out with a good save on a shot by Cuypers.  Our goalkeeper Bolat seemed unbeatable, in minute 25 the ball came to Cuypers after a skirmish but he was already heading a fantastic Bolat again.

On the half-hour, our Kemphans were again behind after a fine goal by Orban on Hong’s pass, 1-2. And again our Kemphans got back into the game. Reynolds thought of shooting, his shot landed on the post and came back into the feet of Chadli who popped his 4th goal of the season against the ropes! 2-2 after 35 minutes! Almost the complete turnaround was complete, barely a minute after the equaliser Reynolds laid the ball ready for Vaesen but he decided on Nardi.

An engaging first half with chances on both sides ended with a 2-2 interval.

Second half. Not even 2 minutes out of the dressing room and our Kemphans were ahead for the first time! After a blunder at the back by Okumu, the ball got to Lukas Van Eenoo who completed the turnaround, 3-2! The opening quarter of the second half was entirely for Westerlo, who strongly kept looking for the 4-2. 

In minute 66, Orban equalised with another fine goal on a pass from Kums, 3-3.

Immediately there was a counter-reaction from Westerlo, Nene deciding just over Nardi’s goal after an excellent cross from Reynolds. Newcomer Matsuo was given just under 15 minutes to show himself by our coach Jonas De Roeck. Five minutes before time, ’t Kuipje held its breath for a moment after Bolat miscalculated when building up an attack. Westerlo was searching for the winning goal, a cross from Fixelles was deflected by Neustädter but went just wide of Nardi’s goal. The Kemphans created a few more threats but without success.

End of match. After 90 minutes of football at ’t Kuipje, this game ended in a draw. Both teams provided spectacle, resulting in a 3-3 final score. Westerlo moves another step closer to reaching Play-Off 2.

Report: Milan Van den Eeden
Photo’s: Luc Meynaerts