After the setback in the final minutes against Sporting Charleroi, our team headed for Lotto Park with extra fervour. However, the statistics made it clear that the move to the purple and white stadium would not be a walk in the park. Of our last 20 clashes at the home ground of Belgium’s record champion, we were only able to pick up points three times. Three substitutions against Charleroi – bringing in De Cuyper, Tagir and Chadli – should increase that number today.
Line-up KVC Westerlo: S. Bolat, E. Jordanov , R. Neustaedter, R. Tagir, M. De Cuyper, Y. Matsuo (80′ T. Dierckx), M. Fixelles (80′ N. Madsen), T. van den Keybus (65′ N. Chadli), L. Van Eenoo, N. Chadli (68′ I. Vetokele), K. Vaesen (63′ D. Nene)
Anderlecht seemed keen to reinforce their good home stats against Westerlo and immediately grabbed our boys by the neck. Yet it was us who managed to create the first major goal threat after 6 minutes, but Chadli’s header was too weak and too central to really worry home goalkeeper Verbruggen. Not much later, Vaesen also managed to push through after Debast lost the ball, but his shot from an acute angle landed in the side netting.
The double pinprick by our yellow shirts caused a change in the game. Anderlecht lost its grip on the game little by little, which also allowed Jordanov and Fixelles to put Verbruggen back to work.
The first real goal chance from Les Mauves’ side was to be waited until just before the half-hour mark. Dreyer found Raman in the sixteen, but his ground-breaking shot was expertly looked wide by Bolat.
However, the purple-white goal threat did not faze our boys. A double attack down the right resulted in quick-fire goal chances from Matsuo and again Fixelles, but both failed to get their effort sufficiently framed.
With the game fully poised and the stadium clock ticking towards minute 45, most supporters were already preparing for refreshments at half-time. A header by Vaesen on a cross from Matsuo then caused many to quiver their heads on their way to the bar, but again the home goalkeeper was still all in all easily able to prevent an opening goal. And so we went into half-time with a 0-0.
Ref Visser’s whistle again acted like a red rag on a bull for Anderlecht’s men to go all out, just like in the first half. Our boys were again pressed backwards and had to allow a number of corners after a good intervention by Bolat. However, the renewed sturm und drang by the purple and white did not cause much of a goal threat. After a good deep pass to Chadli, all alarm bells went off in the Anderlecht penalty area, but our former international was flagged down for offside.
An open canvas at the change of the same Chadli in minute 68 caused a resurgence in the stands, after the storm of the furious opening phase had subsided again. It inspired the other man with many caps with the Red Devils on his record to make the stands roar again, but Vertonghen’s header was swatted away by Bolat firmly wide of the post.
His colleague on the opposite side also appeared to still be on hand late in the game, when on a corner kick Thomas van den Keybus found himself all alone. A leg sweep from the Anderlecht goalie prevented the chance of the 0-1. Not much later, Anderlecht proved to have not only a good goalkeeper, but also a good guardian angel, when captain Van Eenoo’s shot smashed against the crossbar.
Westerlo smelled their chance and pressed on, but again Anderlecht could count on their goalkeeper on an effort by Vetokele and the guardian angel also did his trick again on a shot by Dorgeles.
However, the devil was still in the tail for Westerlo, as even on a deflected shot by Stroeykens we turned out to have some favourable blades of grass on the other side, which allowed the ball to bump narrowly wide of Bolat’s goal. Thus, despite a lot of goal danger, we ended the game just as we had started it, namely with a 0-0 draw. A good thing for our team in the fight for a play-off ticket, although with a bit more luck there could have been more for our boys too.
Report: Glen Van Herck
Photos: Yunus Öztürk