Wednesday, September 21, 2016

CS Sedan Ardennes – AS Béziers (02-09-2016)

Club Sportif Sedan Ardennes was founded almost 100 years ago and has been a solid feature in the lower regions of French professional football. Their last stint in the top flight of French football was in 2007, just one season, after which they played six years in the Ligue 2 (Second Division). Since 2013 they play in the (now) Championnat National (Third Division).

After a good 4 hour drive from Schiphol Airport – where I arrived that afternoon from the US – my brother and I arrive in Sedan, where we can already see the flood lights of the Stade Louis Dugauguez, a classic example of the concrete stadiums you often see in the North and West of France (e.g. Strasbourg, Mulhouse).

After we parked the car and picked up a (surprisingly good) snack, we walk around the stadium to buy a ticket for a mere €7 and walk back to get into the stadium. We sit behind the goal, where most of the ca. 750 people seem to be sitting. The audience is white, local, and of all ages. Roughly a quarter is female, always together with at least one male companion.

Today’s opponent is Avenir Sportif Béziers, a new fusion club that was only founded in 2007. Given that Béziers is more than 900 km south of Sedan, there are no away fans (we can find). Sedan has started the new season badly – with two losses and two draws almost at the bottom of the league – while Béziers is somewhere mid-table.

Some 7 minutes in the visitors get the first chance but they shoot it just over the goal. The next notable chance is after almost 30 minutes, when a Sedan free kick on the sideline, from almost 30 meters, goes over everyone before it is volleyed low and saved by the goalie.  Given how white the audience is, it is noteworthy that almost all players, on both sides, are non-white.

Although the pace is quite high, the passes and control are quite poor and, consequently, the game is quite poor. Overall it is a first half of good intentions, but little results, so 0-0 is the only logical score.

As the players come back for the second half, I have few expectations of more spectacle. However, a lame handball by the guests gives Sedan a penalty kick and a goal: 1-0.

The lead is rejuvenating Sedan, who gets better, as Béziers mainly disappoints. Very little happens in front of both goals as neither team is able to string good attacks together and, even in the few occasions this does happen, the final pass is terrible.

In the 90th minute, after a long wait for an “injury” by a Sedan player, the guests take a terrible corner, which is met by an awful clearance, leading to a header that is saved by the goalie. Two minutes later Béziers has a low shot at goal but straight at the goalie. As we all get ready for a 1-0 home win, Sedan executes the perfect counter over left, which is brought in to the free striker, who calmly finishes in the empty goal: 2-0, end of game!

While the stadium looks a bit like a bomb cellar, and the quality of play was very poor, the experience overall was very satisfying, as CS Sedan Ardennes is one of those truly local teams that still has an authentic atmosphere as the club of the town. Happy to have finally visited it.

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