Team Sheet: Free
Attendance: 300 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3
For my opening game of the 2014/15 season, I decided to head to Belgium today, motivated by the prospect of an enjoyable day out in western Flanders, as well as the home club designating today as their annual fans day. Either side of the match, activities around the stadium included a barbecue before the match, a "meet the players" session afterwards, with the stadium bar showing the World Cup Quarter Final tie between Belgium and Argentina in the early evening.
When I booked today's ferry crossing a couple of days previously, I was looking forward to a warm, sunny daytime drive. However the constant drizzle during my drive to Dover was augmented by fog driving away from Calais, to make the morning feel anything but summery. Driving from Calais to Roeselare would take about an hour and a half in one go, however I stopped off in the beautiful town of Ypres en route, marvelling at the impressive and imposing town centre architecture, as well as taking in the thought-provoking Menin Gate. On arrival at the ground, located a couple of kilometres west of the town centre, parking is plentiful in the large car parks just outside the stadium and adjacent exhibition centre. Matchday tickets were sold at a portakabin on the approach path to the stadium, with my seat officially in the main stand, which offered excellent unobstructed views for a good height. Although the seats were plastic, they were still comfortable, and even had a drinks holder in the arm. Straddling the opposite length is a much smaller stand, two thirds covering terrace steps, where I watched the second half from, whilst the remaining third, which was closed today, covers seating. There is a modern large all-seater stand behind one of the goals, with narrow supporting pillars which would slightly obstruct one's view from these seats. Behind the other goal is about a dozen uncovered terrace steps, with advertising boards and a basic electronic scoreboard along the top, but this area was also closed off today. Whilst Schiervelde is not a stadium to set the pulse racing, it does have a pleasing amount of variety and individuality, as well as some old-school feel about it. Team sheets were given out on entry, which was a pleasant surprise for a friendly match.
KSV Roeselare currently ply their trade in the second division of Belgian football, and finished in fourteenth place in the 18 team division last season. They have a familiar name as their coach, former Belgian international Franky van der Elst, capped 86 times. Fellow west Flanders outfit KV Oostende were a real surprise packet last season. Newly promoted into the first division, after a slow start, they finished the regular season in ninth place and contested the Europa League play-offs, even though they knew they would be ineligible to play in Europe the following season having not obtained the necessary licences, and indeed after winning through the group stage and reaching the final, that tie was annulled and the Europa League berth awarded to Zulte-Waregem.
Happily the weather improved considerably from this morning, staying dry throughout the game with occasional sunny spells. The first half was a fairly typical friendly affair, played at a gentle pace with little goalmouth action, but still had enough about it to keep spectators interested. Roeselare did most of the attacking in the first half, although it was Oostende who managed to put the ball in the back of the net. A short corner resulted in a cross flicked on at the near post and the ball was headed into the net at the far post by Elimane Coulibaly, however the goal was disallowed for offside.
The home side changed their entire team at the interval, but the second half saw more intensity and was quite enjoyable to watch. Oostende took the lead on 49 minutes, when the ball was crossed in low from the right wing by Fernando Canesin, and was tapped in from fairly close range at the far post by Bjorn Ruytinx. Their lead was to last just three minutes though. Olivier Myny cut in from the right wing and unleashed a savage drive across the keeper into the top far corner of the net. A couple of minutes later and Roeselare almost took the lead, when Myny latched onto a throughball, but eventually shot straight at the keeper. They came even closer to scoring on 58 minutes, when Marcos Camozzatto struck a wonderful free kick that came back off the far post. Soon after this, it was Oostende turn to change their entire outfield team, although this didn't hinder them too much, indeed they went on to play better than the original team did in the second half. On 75 minutes Wilmet Ruiz headed just wide from a forward curling cross, whilst on 78 minutes, a lovely ball was looped over the defence allowing Judge to run through on goal, but he hesitated before shooting wide of goal. Oostende had the last significant chance of the game four minutes from time, when the Oostende keeper unconvincingly palmed a corner onto the head of Myny, who headed just over the bar. 1-1 was how the match finished though, and as I drove back to Calais, I reflected on an enjoyable match and day out to open my account for the season.