The hype before the kick-off was that this was a game ADO must win. If the result were to go against the home side, serious doubts would begin to creep into the thoughts of all those involved with club. Losing this contest was not an option, the last thing anybody wanted. The Rotterdam club sit well below ADO in the league standings, so everyone was hoping the game would be a simple walk in the evening for ADO. Yet a club like Excelsior this is threatened by relegation fights hard, so it was edge of the seat time in the Kyocera.
Radosavljevic battles for the ball
ADO began the game at a high tempo. There was urgency about their play and an aggression to fight for the ball. Relegation threatened Excelsior could not handle ADO’s pace and direct fluid passing; but as with so many other times this season, they could not get the final touch to claim the all important breakthrough goal.
In the seventeenth minute, Luksik played a ball in from the left. Chery ran onto it and his shot hit a totally unaware Wesley de Ruiter and went out for a corner.
Toornstra with the goal at his mercy
The amount of possession ADO had was phenomenal. In the twenty eighth minute Chery crossed the ball in from the right. Toornstra’s sweet shot looked goal bound only to watch as Ruiter made a world class save pawing the ball away from the top corner. The ball fell to Immers whose header then hit the post and then the ball rolled along the goal line into the hands of a very relieved Ruiter.
In the thirty fifth minute ADO got the goal they deserved, although in bizarre circumstances. A combination of passing and luck ended up with the ball at Verhoek’s feet. As he lined up a shot Edwin de Graaf came across him to volley the ball away to safety, only to see his clearance fly into the top corner of the net, 1-0.
Three minutes into the second half and Excelsior were back on level terms. A long ball from defence by Leen van Steensel caught out Kum whose header went backwards. The ball hit the ankle of Visser and then fell into the path of Roland Alberg. The forward remained composed and easily beat Coutinho, real route one football, 1-1.
Chery fighting hard in midfield
After the goal ADO just seemed to lose heart, passion and drive. There were too many sloppy passes allowing Excelsior to enjoy more of the play. This almost led to another goal. A great save by Coutinho from Alberg saw the resulting rebound fall to Tim Vincken, he took the ball just a fraction too wide and saw his fierce strike hit the outside of the net, a real let off for ADO.
As ADO’s play continued to deteriorate, for the first time this season, there were chants about the manager’s decisions, never a good thing to hear from the home support. I have to say that ADO were failing and nothing that was tried was working, and the fans had a right to vent their fury.
The game got scrappy and either team could have won it in the final stages. Firstly Boussaboun was tripped as he ran in on goal. With only the keeper to beat Steensel fouled him. A clear goal scoring chance but the referee, Jan Wegereef deemed it only worthy of a yellow card caution: The resulting free-kick just missing the post.
In the third minute of added time it looked as though from a cross from the right by Excelsior that Radosavljevic used his hand to palm the ball away to safety. The Excelsior players were livid and surrounded the referee. TV replays later showed that ADO were very lucky to get away with the handball offence as it would have and should have been a penalty kick to the visitors.
The final whistle blew and a crescendo of boos echoed down fro the stands. The fans were not at all happy. The saddest thing to witness was the players trudge from the pitch with their heads hanging down. I was standing only two meters from the manager, Maurice Steijn; and as he stood on the side line, all the players ignored him, there were no handshakes, no pats on the back and no one even looked him in the eye. The only reaction was when Steijn patted Immers on the back as he left the field.
Maurice Steijn looks dejected at the end of the game
This shows there is something wrong within the dressing room at ADO. There have been no stories of arguments or upset within the camp, but what I witnessed at full time was not a team in harmony. It looks as though there is something seriously wrong within the club. Has the manager now lost the confidence of his players? I can only hope that whatever it is can be sorted out sooner rather than later.
Attendance: 10, 144
ADO man of the match: Ali Boussaboun; A real work horse performance.
Next home game is on Saturday, 3 March against sc Heerenveen; kick-off time is at 18:45. A club card is not required for this match. The ticket office is open on Tuesday 13:00 - 18:00, Wednesday and Thursday 12:00 - 18:00 and on Friday between 12:00 - 20:00.
Text & Photos by Neal McClimon