This weekend has been a very busy one for myself as I, along with four friends from the German city of Frankfurt, set off on a Groundhopping tour of the Benelux countries. Having flown to Frankfurt from Manchester on Friday morning the scene was set for a road trip worthy of the name. The journey would take us through three countries in three days with the first leg taking us 427 kilometres from Frankfurt to the beautiful Belgian city of Mons, from where we would embark further to the small village of Boussu another 19km away.
The Belgian second division is a strange affair to most football fans used to the idea of a simple 34 game table deciding promotion matters at the end of the season. However, in order to keep up interest for each team throughout the season, the league is split into three periods. The overall champions goes up automatically whilst the three period winners, assuming the champions aren’t amongst them (if so the next best team onwards) play-off against the winner of a relegation play-off from the first division. Sadly neither team featuring in Friday’s game at the Stade Robert Urbain were amongst the front-runners but that didn’t mean that the game would diappoint.
On the contrary, the game saw plenty of chances and a bit of controversy along the way. Home team Royal Boussu Dour Borinage, to give them their full name, took the lead in the 14th minute following goalkeeper Steven Olieslagers apprehending striker Anthony Delplace in the box, thus leaving the referee no option but to show Heist’s number 1 the red card. Kamel Ouejdide scored the first from the spot and was on hand to score a beautifully struck third goal for RBDB on the stroke of half-time with the aforementioned Delplace having scored the second inbetween. KSK Heist, playing their first season at this level, had brought a small but loyal following to the game and it would be they who would be celebrating at the end of the game.
The second half started with RBDB hoping to capitalise on their numerical advantage but, as the game went on, KSK Heist began to venture further forward and were rewarded with what everybody thought was a consolation goal in the 77th minute when Bram Criel pulled one back from close range. Unfortunately for the home side this led to a collective bout of self-doubt and they allowed the visitors another goal two minutes before full-time when Kurt Van Dooren nodded the ball home to set up a grandstand finish. The ninety minutes of regular time were up and all the home side had to do was hold on. After all how difficult could it be with a full compliment of players against of a team depleted by one? Alas, football doesn’t always work out this way and when Bart Webers eventually saw the ball home following a free-kick two minutes into stoppage time the scene was set for the Heist players to run the full length of the pitch to celebrate an unlikely point with their loyal supporters.
Following the end of the match KSK Heist remained in 10th place whilst further results over the weekend saw Royal Boussu go down to 14th, not quite out of the picture regarding a relegation battle, lying just four points ahead of Rupel Boom in 17th place. Following a comeback reminiscent of Liverpool’s triumph in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul it would take something special to beat this game in terms of excitement and goals. We set off to Luxembourg on Saturday hoping that we might just experience another miracle of our own…..
WATCH RBDB v KSK HEIST HIGHLIGHTS HERE