K.S.V. Sottegem v K.F.C. Eendracht Zele

Belgium

Oost Vlaanderen Provincial 1

Sunday 3rd December 2017

Kick Off 18.00 Actual 18.04

K.S.V. Sottegem 2 K.F.C. Eendracht Zele 1,  attendance 204

35’ 1-0

44’ 2-0

54’ 2-1

@ Stedelijk Sportstadion Jules Matthijs 

Kastanjelaan 85

9620 Zottegem

€7 Admission

Team Sheet, free.

It had taken 23 minutes to drive south east to Zottegem (spelled with a ‘Z’, unlike the club, who spell their name with an ‘S’) and with each mile, the snow looked to have fallen heavier. We were quite surprised how little snow was on the pitch when we arrived, although the pitch markings had been swept clear. There seemed to be some doubt over whether the match would be going ahead. The three match officials seemed rather laid back, finally finishing their coffee and biscuits, before heading out to do their pitch inspection at 17.20. It was given the go ahead, but the pitch markings would have to be re-done, as they claimed they weren’t visible, although they could clearly be seen by everyone else !

The Stadium here has a capacity in the region of 8,000, illustrative of their former status as a Belgian League club, playing as high as level two.

Sottegem were thirteenth in the league table, whilst the visitors arrived in third place. Zele were well on top in the first half, but somehow trailed by two goals at the break, which were totally against the run of play. Having conceded early in the second half, it was pretty much backs to the wall for Sottegem and with resolute defending and some ridiculous time wasting, they hung on for the 3 points.

Having rained for most of the first half, the snow had pretty much disappeared by the end of the match, but at least it stopped before our mad dash back to The Tunnel. The match had dragged on, which meant it was 19.58 when we left the car park at the ground. It wouldn’t normally be a problem, but according to Eurotunnel, we were on the last crossing of the night, at 22.21, so had to make the check-in by 21.51. If we missed this, it would mean waiting until 01.42 for the next shuttle. An excellent run back meant we were checked in at 21.42 and for once, the U.K. Passport Control were working at a good pace, meaning we actually made it onto the earlier 22.06 train by the skin of our teeth.

K.F.C. Merelbeke v K.V.K. Ninove

Belgium

National League

Division 3 Amateurs

Sunday 3rd December 2017

Kick Off 14.30 Actual 14.32

K.F.C. Merelbeke 1 K.V.K. Ninove 1,  attendance 247

42’ 0-1

90’ 1-1

@ Kloosterstraat

9820 Merelbeke

€10 Admission

Team Sheet, free.

I had previously visited Merelbeke, back on 24th August 2014 (2-1 versus K.V.V. Vlaamse Ardennen, Oost Vlaanderen Provincial Cup) which was my third match that day (having been to Bon Air Sport and K.V.C. Itna Itterbeek earlier that afternoon, for Brabant Provincial Cup matches). However, on that occasion, the match was played at their ‘B’ ground, Sportcomplex Ter Wallen.

The fixtures had fallen perfectly today, as there were two 6 o’clock kick offs scheduled in the Oost Vlaanderen Provincial 1, both of which I needed, and both less than half an hours drive from Merelbeke. The weather forecast for the Gent area was for a cloudy 8 degrees. Unfortunately, forecasts can be totally wrong and today was certainly the case. As the SatNav was showing we were just 13 minutes from our destination, we noticed the fields had suddenly turned white, with a good covering of snow ! Despite it being dry and 6 degrees, this might cause us a problem.

We decided to have lunch, as we would need food, regardless of whether the match was going to be on or not. We also had plenty of time to head back in to West Vlaanderen, as we knew the weather there was fine, so we would be guaranteed of getting a match in today, even if it wasn’t our intended one. We arrived at the ground around 13.50, to be told by the gateman, that the game was on, despite the pitch being covered in snow, although a group of volunteers were putting in a superb effort, having already cleared the lines, they were now starting to remove the snow from a vast majority of the goal areas as well ! If this had been in England, there is no way the match would have taken place, as our clubs look at every possibility of calling a match off if they can, rather than the attitude taken here, that it is the same for both teams and not dangerous in any way. The snow around the terrace and walkways would have had the health and safety brigade up in arms back home, but thankfully, here, common sense prevailed.

Despite the snow, this was a decent contest. Ninove, backed by a good following, deserved their halftime lead, but were unable to add to it. Merelbeke, who were tenth in the league table, two places above the visitors, came on strong towards the end of the match and bagged a deserved last minute equaliser. As Ninove re-started the match, the clock above the changing rooms clicked to 90.00 minutes played and the Referee blew his whistle for full time. The decision did not go down well with the hosts, as there was no time added for any of the substitutions, or an injury that had taken place in the last few minutes. Despite getting the last gasp point, they still felt they had a winning goal in them !

Well done to everyone who made sure that the game went ahead today. Now on to the action………