More than an hour palliative but finally still alive: AA Gent crawled through the eye of the needle against Shamrock Rovers.? Thanks to Hong and the help of the Swedish Djurgården, the Buffalos still have a chance to winter in Europe despite a 1-1 in Ireland.
Game 22 for AA Gent seemed to be heading for the eleventh defeat of the season for a long time. Until substitute Hong made it 1-1 and surprisingly kept AA Gent alive for the 1/16th finals of the Conference League. Molde itself lost at home to Djurgården, which means that the Buffalos will have a final in their own Ghelamco Arena next week. Winning is the only assignment, although that has only been possible once in seven European matches.
The question will be which players will be available in the future. As if the injury toll hadn’t weighed enough, the flu was now also raging through the Ghent core. Cuypers turned out to be so ill that he stayed in the hotel. Others were still on the bench, but the starting eleven turned out to be quite different than against Seraing. Neither Hong nor Nurio were at the kick-off, Kums suffered from a kick on the toe. This gave Hauge another chance to show that he has little business even at AA Gent. You can feel an entire team missing. However, there was still enough experience and skill on the pitch to just beat Shamrock Rovers. The Irish also missed key players and who knows how deep they had looked into the Guinness after their title on Monday? Or was it bad luck that two Irishmen were injured before half-time?
Just to say that not only Ghent was carefree. Was illness the explanation for some players’ distressing level? Okumu who gave one bad pass after another, Godeau who didn’t know what to do, Odjidja who once again couldn’t take the team in tow. So weak that the Buffalos had started this match on the life and death. A wing change to the corner of Godeau and Hauge, no pressure on the ball, a cross on which Okumu simply let himself be grabbed in the back by Gaffney: 1-0. After less than three minutes. Lucky that Nardi pushed a shot from the same Gaffney against the post, or after ten minutes it was time for books.
Except for dramatic moments on the ball, AA Gent once again proved inefficient. It wasn’t that Ghent didn’t force any chances. Salah came close to equalizing twice, but just as often he just let himself be snatched. Once he did get his foot against the ball after a good header from Depoitre, but goalkeeper Mannus saved from close range. The 40-year-old Northern Irishman also whipped a lovely shot from Hjulsager from his goal.
Festival of the Missed Opportunity
Marreh stayed in the dressing room, Kums came in. Gent continued on its momentum in the second half. Salah was unable to score again from close range, Hauge messed up a good switch by not delivering a custom ball, after which Depoitre also decided not to print himself. A header by Godeau, from a corner, was swept off the line. Depoitre after a good action by Hjulsager, substitute Hong after a dribble by Salah: the festival of missed opportunities went on and on. Until Hong fell to the home team with ten after a second yellow card for Ferizaj and Hong immediately after Godeau made the equalizer.
With just under twenty minutes on the clock, Ghent could have even won. Kums was sent off but decided too weak, and the ref also did not want to hear about the claim for a penalty. In extra time, Okumu narrowly missed the goal.
In the end it doesn’t make much difference for the assignment next week: to beat Molde and Ghent overwinter after an incredible rollercoaster. But first: lick the wounds and see who can come to OH Leuven on Sunday. With all those absent, AA Gent is reaching its limits. You can’t get through the eye of a needle every game.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Hoare, Lopes, Cleary; Farrugia, Mc Cann (34’ Grace), Kavanagh, Lyons, Towell; Gaffney, Watts (24’ Ferizaj)
AA People: Nardi; Okumu, Ngadeu, Godeau; Samoise, Marreh (46′ Kums), Odjidja (88′ Van den Bergh), Hauge (60′ Hong); Salah, Hjulsager; Depoitre
Goals: 3′ Gaffney 1-0, 74′ Hong Hyun-seok 1-1
Yellow cards: Ferizaj (2x), Marreh, Kavanagh, Towell, Lyons
Red cards: Ferizaj (2x yellow)
Referee: Julian Weinberger (OOS)