WIN FOR DURKIN, SINT-TRUIDEN
American midfielder Chris Durkin was in on the action for Sint-Truiden over the weekend as they came away with the win over Royal Excel Mouscron.
Sint-Truidense V.V. headed west on Saturday evening to take on Royal Excel Mouscron in Belgian Pro League action in a game that was shrouded in a thick Walloon fog. They came away from the contest with a 3-1 victory though lost their clean sheet minutes before regulation time.
Durkin put in an 80-minute shift for the Canaries and had a couple sniffs at goal but is still looking to register his first net bender during his loan spell in Belgium.
The hosts came out of the starting blocks with a vengeance and attacked with gusto. They won a corner kick in the second minute and although it came to nothing, it took another five or so minutes before STVV gained possession and headed down the opposite end of the field. Durkin ran with the ball into the danger zone and on the run, got off a shot from the top of the D but the effort goes wide of the far post.
Mouscron regained possession and won a corner kick, followed by another half chance when Aleix Garcia played Fabrice Olinga into the box but the Cameroonian wasted the chance by missing the target.
The American midfielder had another chance when he picked up a loose ball and charged downfield with a couple of team mates trying to keep pace. Instead of laying the ball off however, he went for the glory but his shot again went wide of the far post.
Garcia, on loan from Manchester City, should have scored minutes later with his scorching shot but Kenny Steppe between the Sint Truiden posts made an acrobatic dive to his left and push the ball just past the post to keep the ball out.
It turned out to be not third time lucky for the American when Santiago Colombatto won a free kick 25 yards out. He took it himself and played it into the box for Suzuki, who headed it back to the DC United loanee but it was not to be as the ball went wide of the target.
Asked about the chance, Durkin said, "I think as I continue to get more and more experience on those positions, I'll start to put them in the net. I already hold myself to a high standard and I'll be looking back at that one and seeing what I can do better."
Mouscron continued to have the lion's share of the ball and they could have taken the lead with a Garcia effort followed by freekick from 22 yards out that Nemanja Antonov got over the wall but not past Steppe. The onslaught continued with Antonov finding Olinga flying up the flank and the former Malaga man picking out Deni Hocko. Although a decent effort, the Montenegrin's shot was deflected enough to allow another Steppe save.
Then it all went wrong for the hosts. Against the run of play, Argentinian Facundo Colidio flew up the left wing and was picked out with a decent ball from inside his own half. The Inter Milan loanee made his way into the box and attracted a pair of defenders, leaving the oncoming Yuma Suziki racing forward to his right and laying off a simple pass for the Japanese striker for an even simpler tap in past Jean Butez. The goal came in the 27th minute.
Five minutes before the intermission REM won a freekick 20 yards out but Antonov's effort wasn't good enough and it cleared the crossbar with room to spare. In the dying minutes the ball into the box was gift wrapped for REM striker Stipe Perica but Belgian defender Samy Mmaee gave him a hard shove in the back, sending him to the ground. It was an obvious penalty to everyone in the Stade Le Canonnier; everyone except for referee Bert Put. The half ended one nil to the visitors.
Sint Truiden came out of the locker room a different team compared to how they started off the first half. They had their hosts chasing after the ball for the first nine minutes. They were allowed a breather when their French keeper, Butez had to bend over to pick the ball out of the back of his net.
Off a Mouscron throw-in in their own half, Colombatto headed the ball forward to Colidio who spotted his quick-thinking captain making a run, so he slid it across the wet grass to Jordan Botaka who casually beat the keeper, although Butez did get a foot to it but it wasn't enough to make a difference.
Both teams then traded sniffs at goal with first Mouscron's half chance from a freekick being punched away by Steppe, then Alex de Bruyn's well hit shot, well saved by the shot stopper.
In the 80th minute you may as well have stuck a fork in Les Hurlus because they were well and truly done when the Canaries flew down field and scored for the third time on this foggy night. On this occasion it was again Colidio who was played into the box though being well defended, he danced around his markers and spotted Samuel Asamoah, who just came on for Durkin. The Ghanian struck it first time and his scorcher just cleared the inside of the near post.
And just when everyone thought that it was all over, one of those crazy soccer moments took place. Off a free kick just inside the Sint Truiden half, Frank Boya spotted Steppe way off his line, so kicked it down the field into the foggy night and must have smiled when he saw it loop over the keeper and hit the back of the net for a consolation goal in the 87th minute.
"I think the first half was a little dicey, here and there," Durkin told Yanks Abroad after the game. I think everybody on the team were finding their feet, figuring out how to press because they did well with the three numerical advantage on the wings, so it required me to not press out as far. Then in the second half you could see the energy. It was a much better second half from everybody, including myself.
In the second half we knew that it was going to require a lot of energy to come out and dominate on the field and I think everybody on the team received that message well."
Asked about his replacement scoring a goal almost immediately, Durkin smiled and said that "Samuel, the guy who scored the goal is a great guy, a great mentor to me and I'm really happy for him that he scored the goal. I am of course really happy with the three points. It's really great form that we're in now and we've really got to continue with it."
Before kick-off, STVV were a point and a place behind their opponents who sat in the 10th spot. With the win, they have now leap-frogged them. The team will be on the road again over the weekend when they travel to the Belgian coast to take on struggling KV Oostende on Saturday night.