KV Mechelen – KVC Westerlo

Scoring two goals in as many minutes and being down by one even before half-time, you know things are going to be difficult, especially against towering favourites Gent, in these Europe Play Offs. On the other hand, the whole match was football humour at its best. Both supporters’ clans had prepared well and, last but not least, the Ghent players re-enacted the much-discussed parlour rematch when referee Smet closed the match.

KVC Westerlo

Bart Goor, in his first home game as coach, could again dispose of our American Eagles Reynolds and Yow, who also immediately claimed their starting places. Sinan Bolat also reappeared between the posts, after his mandatory week’s rest. The fourth newcomer was Bakary Haidara, the young Ivorian central defender got to prove himself again, although his performance did not last long. Off the pitch, Baka gets the trophy of the kindest, sweetest and humblest player, on the pitch he is ruthless in his tackles. Youthful sin we call it then and a learning process he has to go through. That is what these matches in PO2 serve for us.

1 month ago we had Mechelen-out on the menu. Ball possession then was clearly in favour of our Kemphans (42-58), the number of shots also (10-21), but the goals were for the kakkers, after a few individual defensive errors. The last goal of this match, a cannonball into the crossbar, signed Jordan Bos was the very best thing we saw that night.

In terms of selection news, there is not much news to glean. Of the 33 players who have already been on the pitch this season and are still in daily training ground with us, two are still looking for their first starting place, namely Josimar Alcocer (3 substitutes) and Karol Borys (1 substitute). The always likeable third goalkeeper Koen Van Langendonck is still training every day like a young foal, waiting for his first playing minutes since 8/4/2022, when as captain he saw the team win 2-6 against Mouscron.

KV Mechelen

Our provincial rivals saw a ticket to the PO1 fly past them. After New Year, they had an incredible run of 9 games in a row without defeat and the tenth decisive game for the coveted ticket, they lose in minute 92 against OHL, only to play the same game one week later for PO2 and then they did win.

Last week they then went down to the wire against STVV. They were still leading 2-0 in minute 67, only to end the match without points. I suppose this also hit hard, especially when it was against the direct competitor for the final place. Currently, their deficit is 4 points behind leader Gent, with the prospect of a game against them next week.

In the last 10 years, they have contested 7 duels against us. Matches with lots of emotion and lots of goals, 32 in total (21 Mechelen and 11 Westerlo), a goal-less Mechelen vs Westerlo does not even exist. In the 18 confrontations already played, at least one goal was scored by either team. We expect goals this edition too.

Arthur Denil

He has been the chief referee in six matches this season, twice in the Jupiler Pro League and four times in the Challenger Pro League. Between August 2023 and March 2024, he was not elected to serve as match referee in any match. In the past, he was designated 11 times (6x wins and 3 draws) to lead a Kemphans match and twice a Mechelen match (2x wins).

Text and statistics: Peter Boons