Thursday, April 02, 2015

Patro Eisden Maasmechelen – KFC Dessel Sport (27-02-2015)

Finding a club within three hours from Amsterdam, which plays on Friday night, and which neither my brother nor me hasn’t seen yet, is no easy feat. And yet, we found one: Patro Eisden Maasmechelen in the Belgian province of Limburg, only miles from both the Dutch and German border. Founded in 1935 the club was known as Patro Eisden until 1998, when it decided to add Maasmechelen to the name, to attract support from the broader region.

Patro Eisden MM plays in the Proximus League, i.e. the Second Division of Belgian football. Their home ground is the Patrostadion, a small new stadium, that opened in 2001, and has a capacity of 6,490. We arrive just in time for kick-off. After paying 10 euro for a (standard) ticket, and a quick snack at the snack cart, we join the home fans at the standing only stand.

There are ca. 800 people in the stadium, divided fairly equally across the two long side stands. The vast majority are men between 20 and 50, mostly local, and I have a hard time understanding their conversations. There are approximately 100 away supporters, who made the 72 km (60 miles) trip from Dessel.

The game is played at a rather slow pace and, in good Belgian fashion, both teams play fairly defensive. In the 10th minute a corner by Patro is missed by three players and a weak shot goes just wide. Roughly ten minutes later a great shot is saved by a beautiful dive by the Dessel goalie.

Three minutes later a Dessel player walks for almost 30 meters without anyone pressuring him and shoots from 20 meters at goal. The ball has an odd bunce, which confuses the goalie, and it’s 0-1.

While the home fans around us softly display their disapproval, the game doesn’t change much. Pace and quality remain low and few chances are created on either side. A couple minutes before half time a shot by Patro from at least 20 meters goes virtually as far wide. Half time: 0-1.

Patro pressures a bit more in the second half. In the 53rd minute a corner is beautifully headed into the goal: 1-1. Several minutes later a Patro attack with several good passes is finished with a hard shot that goes far wide.

The rest of the game does not lead to many more chances. Both teams are careful and tired and take very few chances. If there are some half chances, the lack of quality leads to some comedy capers, including an attack where several players hit over the ball. In the end, 1-1 is the best the two can do.

Patro Eisden Maasmechelen is an old-school small town team from a more rural area. The team is run by some rick local businessmen, most fans are local, and people are fairly appreciative of the little they have.

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