No ticket-return to Bastogne and back like the men’s riders Sunday, but a round trip to Seraing for our Kemphans. Due to the expected crowds for the cycling classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Seraing and KVC opened the final day of the regular competition on Saturday, in what was called in advance a match without stakes. Both teams may have already known their fate for the final game of this league year, but after all, nobody says no to an extra 3 points.
Line-up KVC Westerlo: S. Bolat, P. Perdichizzi (72′ I. Vetokele), N. Chadli (45′ D. Nene), N. Madsen (82′ M. Gumuskaya), L. Van Eenoo, M. De Cuyper (88′ B. Reynolds), R. Tagir (64′ N. Madsen), I. Vetokele (62′ K. Vaesen), E. Jordanov, T. van den Keybus (45′ T. Dierckx), Y. Matsuo
Seraing clearly wanted to bid farewell to the highest level in brilliance. Even the otherwise soggy turf in the Stade du Pairay showed itself greener than usual. It inspired the home team to start the game wrily and freely and even garner a penalty after less than 6 minutes of soccer. A shot by Marius landed involuntarily on the arm of Perdichizzi, referee Laforge allowed it at first, but was called to the VAR screen a bit later. A penalty kick was the verdict, and the gift was gratefully received by Marius, who sent Bolat the wrong way.
Not much later, the Westel goalie had to fish the ball out of his net again. Valentin Guillaume caped mercifully to his right and caught Bolat counter-footed. A tough job seemed in the making, were it not for the fact that VAR raised its finger again and – after some delay – disallowed the goal for offside.
A sigh of relief echoed from the away box, a slight curse of frustration echoed not much later throughout the stadium when a real cloudburst swept over the Stade du Pairay. With the cartload of raindrops, suddenly came a few waves of attacks from Westerlo. A shot by Van Den Keybus on the initiative of a fluent Matsuo was first blocked, but when the same Matsuo found the head of Vetokele not much later, the 1-1 draw was a fact. A welcome boost just minutes before half-time, when an equally pleasing change of shirt should provide new and warmer morale in the second half.
Of Chadli and Van den Keybus’ jersey, however, the kit manager will only have to put one copy in the wash. Indeed, they were replaced at halftime by Tuur Dierckx and Dorgeles Nene. Their input, along with the rain falling a bit more back, provided additional vocal support for our traveling Westel fans, but real goal chances were somewhat lacking in the opening quarter of the second half.
‘It was up to Kyan Vaesen to change that,’ coach De Roeck must have thought, and just after the hour he brought the promising international off the bench in the quest for the three points.
Like the rain clouds, the game seemed well locked in the second half. Bolat had to go flat once more on a shot by Mansoni, Vaesen in turn tried with a crafty lob after a deep ball, but saw his attempt disappear wide.
Just like in the first round ’t Kuipje, we also seemed to be heading for a draw in Seraing. Mohammed Gumuskaya was given the last chance by coach De Roeck to disrupt the defense of Les Metallos.
A deflected shot by the same Gumuskaya brought a brief revival of the game in the end, in which an industrious Marius also hit the crossbar with a solid header and a grabby Dietsch clearly struggled with the combination of wet gloves and an even wetter ball. However, there were no more goals to be scored and so referee Laforge ended this wet game with a 1-1 draw. With an extra point in their pocket, our Kemphians are heading for the Play-Offs, where they can prepare themselves for some top-flight matches as a reward for their beautiful and vibrant season.
Report: Glen Van Herck
Photos: Luc Meynaerts