ADO Den Haag kicked off their 2018-2019 season on Sunday afternoon against newly promoted FC Emmen. A great atmosphere of noise and colour greeted the teams as they made their way on to the Cars Jeans stadium pitch.

The crowd were expectant as the whistle blew to start the season. What the fans saw from early on was a lack of motivation, organisation and fight. It was like watching an end of season game with nothing for either team to play for.

If ADO were facing a top side they would have been in trouble early on, but the Eredivisie new comers were happy to play in midfield. As the game progressed it became clear ADO are in desperate need of a good striker after the departure to AZ of Bjorn Johnsen. ADO were getting the ball into the area, but with no conviction.

Chances came and went, Nasser El Khayati having the best effort from distance that forced the Emmen keeper, Kjell Scherpen into a fine save. Defender Tom Beugelsdijk had two efforts blocked from tight angles.

ADO soon came to rue the chances missed. In the thirty-seventh minute Emmen took the lead and a beautiful goal it was too. A stunning strike from Glenn Bijl gave ADO keeper Indy Groothuizen no chance, 0-1.

ADO went two goals behind when referee Richard Martens awarded a penalty to Emmen in the forty second minute, following a foul by Danny Bakker on Wouter Marinus. The penalty neatly dispatched by Anco Jansen, 0-2.

The ADO crowd were not happy with the team as they left the pitch, only half the team seemed to be trying, it was a lacklustre performance. The second half saw Emmen come out looking to kill off the game early on, but ADO got through a difficult five minutes and then started to go on the attack themselves.

The turning point was the introduction of Elson Hooi in place of Melvyn Lorenzen. His appearance lifted the crowd and the team. The small winger just went on the attack down the left wing, creating panic in the visitors defence.

ADO got a goal back after sixty two minutes, a scruffy goal, but they all count. Sheraldo Becker firing into the net via a deflection, 1-2. From that moment on it was all ADO.

ADO had chance after chance, it was looking good, but there was one huge problem, the 2.02m tall was exceptional, he was able to block everything that came his way, dominant in the air, that ADO were trying to play intricate stuff to break through. Erik Falkenburg got closest when hitting the post. El Khayati saw a free kick well saved too.

The final whistle blew and ADO’s season started with an unexpected defeat. ADO play away at Heracles Almelo next Saturday. ADO ‘s next home game is against Fortuna Sittard on Friday 24th August, kick-off 20:00. A club card is not needed for this game.

Text & photos by Neal McClimon of www.adoforexpats.com