Friday, 21 September 2012

US Boulogne 1 v 1 Amiens

Tuesday 18th September 2012
French Championnat National
Stade de la Liberation, Boulogne
Admission: €3.00
Programme: N/A
Attendance: 4311
Match rating: 3

A visit to watch Boulogne for a foot passenger is extremely difficult indeed, as they play most of their games in the evening and ferry foot passenger fares only to Calais usually reach an exorbitant level if one does not return to England on the same day. So I could scarcely believe my luck when the P&O website allowed me to book an overnight foot passenger return trip for just £1.00

Tonight would be a revisit for me to the Stade de la Liberation, and my stadium description from my previous visit can be found here. Having last time chosen to sit along the touchline, in the Franck Ribery stand, this evening I chose to sit behind the goal, in the "Kop Boulonnais", where the more vociferous supporters call home.One used to be able to buy tickets for Boulogne matches on their website, however this option no longer seems to be available following the club's relegation to the third tier of French football, and so I bought my ticket for a bargain €3 from the ticket office just outside the main gate before kick-ff. One could choose to sit anywhere in this stand, which offered surprisingly good views, as it is placed on top of, not behind, the running track. Only a small central portion towards the rear is covered, although cover was not required on an evening that was fine and warm to start with but turned chilly once the sun went down.

This evening's match would be the battle of the two relegated clubs from Ligue 2, and it could also be descrbed as something of a derby, between the two most northerly clubs in the Championnat National. Both sides were quite comfortably relegated, Amiens finishing rock bottom, 19 points adrift of safety, whilst Boulogne finished one place and ten points higher. Amiens have regrouped the better of the two sides in the quest to return to the second tier, and they went into this game in third place with 14 points from their opening seven games. Boulogne have had a reasonable start as well, in seventh place with nine points from their seven games.

It has to be the said that the first half of this game was pretty dreadful, particularly from the Boulogne point of view, as they gave the ball away time and again, misplaced passes and invited pressure. And so it was indeed Amiens who spent much of the time in the opposition third, but rarely looked clinical enough to score the opening goal. It was Boulogne who probably had the best chance to score in a forgettable half, when on 8 minutes, the ball was played in from the wing and was headed goalwards from the 18 yard line, which the goalkeeper acrobatically saved.

Happily, the second half was a much livelier affair, with the home side showing much more attacking intent and were no longer giving away possession so readily. On 63 minutes, a Boulogne free kick went just wide of the goal, but five minutes later, against the run of play by now, Amiens were awarded a penalty when the defender brought down the attacker from behind. The defender might have been lucky to remain on the pitch as he was the last defender, however the converted penalty was punishment enough, converted low by Oumar Pouye to the right of goal with the keeper diving the other way. Five minutes later and Boulogne were awarded a penalty, slightly more debatable, when a defender rather clumsily leant into the forward, who went down quite easily. As the keeper danced around and encroached quite far out before the penalty was taken, Chris Gadi showed terrific composure in gently passing the ball into the net to the right of the keeper. The game assumed much greater intensity after the two penalty goals, and soon after Boulogne's goal, the Amiens defence somehow managed to scramble the ball clear, and if there were to be a winner, it now looked much more likely to be Boulogne. However, there was no addition to the scoreline at the end of a game very much of two halves - Amiens on top during the first with Boulogne looking disjointed, Boulogne on top in the second half, and so probably a point each was the fair result in the end, although it is hard to imagine either team making an immediate return to Ligue 2 at the end of the season.

No comments: