Monday, 12 May 2014

Amiens SC 4 v 2 Gazélec Football Club Ajaccio

Friday 9th May 2014
French Championnat National
Stade de la Licorne, Amiens
Admission: €9.00
Programme: None
Attendance: 7,207
Match Rating: 4

With fixtures in England petering out fast, I decided to head for some French action this week during my week off from work. With tickets for Lens never becoming available and having visited US Boulogne a couple of times already, I decided to head a couple of hours south of Calais, to explore a rather unique stadium.

The Stade de la Licorne is situated to the west of Amiens city centre, and as one approaches, one notices from a distance the very distinctive roofs on the stands, consisting of large glass panels stretching high above the seating areas in a slightly curved fashion. It gives the stadium a very attractive and airy feel to it, allowing plenty of natural daylight into the stadium, and a symmetrical look is provided with the roofs matching in height with a small gap between each of the stand roofs. The stadium is all-seater, with the same number of rows of seating in each of the stands, apart from the west stand, which has an additional “balcony” section of seating above a row of corporate boxes along, which is placed above the regular seating. No programmes nor teamsheets seemed to have been produced for this game.

There was not too much riding on this game, with Amiens comfortably in mid table, in eleventh place with 40 points from 31 games, but they are in great form, unbeaten in their last twelve games. This evening's visitors from Corsica were in third place in the division and have all but ensured an immediate return to Ligue 2. They have racked up 54 points from their 31 games, leading fourth placed Colmar by seven points with 3 games to play, and so victory this evening would confirm promotion. They do not travel well though, having not won in their last nine away games, compared with being unbeaten in their last nine home games. When tonight's two teams met in Corsica in December, the home side won 2-0. 

On a sunny evening, the game opened in the usual style of football games in France - slow paced, with lots of sideways and backwards passing, with the occasional penetrating ball forward. However, on 24 minutes, Amiens took the lead with the first of several very good goals this evening. Some uncertain defending allowed Romain Poyet to run diagonally toward goal, eventually dinking the ball over the keeper. Three minutes later and the home side doubled their lead, Yohann Hautcoeur crossing the ball from the right, allowing an unmarked Moussa Marega to head the ball home from a central position. On 33 minutes, Ajaccio pulled a goal back when Florian Fabre scored with a free kick via a deflection off the defensive wall, and they got back on level terms two minutes later from another free-kick, this time an unmarked John Tshibumbu heading in from a central position. However, Amiens went back into the lead on 42 minutes. There didn't seem to be much on as Amiens passed the ball around the edge of the area, until Oumar Pouye suddenly smashed a shot in from 25 yards which went over the keeper and into the net.

It was an excellent first half of football for Amiens, who fully deserved their lead, looking very comfortable in open play. Ajaccio looked a little more threatening in the second half, and the game remained in the balance up until the 75th minute, when Marega scored his second and Amiens fourth of the night. Running onto the ball some distance from goal, he shrugged off a couple of defenders before placing the ball low past the keeper. That put the result beyond doubt, and Amiens looked the likelier to score, but 4-2 was how it finished as Amiens extended their long unbeaten record with an impressive display, looking comfortable at the back and dangerous on the attack. It proved to be a good night all round though, as news came in that Colmar had lost at Boulogne, confirming Ajaccio's promotion to Ligue 2.

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