Mechelen: 1- Lierse: 1
Lierse kept alive their hopes of winning group A in Play Off I with a 1-1 draw away to local rivals Mechelen on Saturday night. This coupled with Cercle's 3-2 defeat away to OH Leuven, means that there is all to play for going into the final round of matches next Saturday.
Chris Janssens rang the changes for the derby in Mechelen. Saïdi and Frans in central defence, Gaxa at left back, and Ayew at right back. Wils and Hairemans were the defensive midfielders. Bidaoui was posted on the left to provide some attacking threat. Daylon Claasen was given a similar task on the right flank. Maric played behind the lone striker: Cofie Bekoe.
Lierse were the first to threaten. After only three minutes via a shot from Wils. Mechelen then five minutes later. Wilmet crossed, and Saïdi was forced to head the ball behind for a corner. Gorius with the corner, and Maxime Biset climbed the highest to nod home: 1-0. Mechelen in the lead with their first chance.
The visitors were trying to put some attacking moves together, and they came mainly from a motivated Daylon Claasen. Nothing more than a long distance shot from Ayew came as a result however.
There was not much tempo in a match largely played out in midfield. Just after twenty minutes Kawashima's long kick out of goal landed on the edge of the Mechelen penalty area. Van Hoevelen passed first time back to keeper Biebauw, who immediately collected the ball. Referee Colemonts inexplicably waved play on. For Lierse this was a particularly tough call, as last week against Cercle, a free kick was awarded against them (from which Cercle scored), for a far less obvious backpass. Just before the half hour mark, a good counter for Lierse viaBekoe and Claasen. The South African looked to bear down on Biebauw, but was brought down by debutant Karahmet, who was somewaht fortunate to escape with only a yellow card.
Ten minutes to go in the first half, and a rare effort on goal. Seth De Witte, ex-Lierse, headed well wide of goal, when he maybe should have done better. Bekoe had a chance on goal, but was not on target. At the other end Gorius fired into the side netting. Into the last minute of a disappointing first half when Lierse put Cordaro under pressure in possession in his own half. Bidaoui roobed him of the ball and played in Maric. Bekoe made a deep run, received the pass from Maric. His shot was only parried to the edge of the area by Biebauw, and Daylon Claasen calmly slotted home: 1-1.
The second half was only five minutes old when Adensanya replaced Hairemans for Lierse. A clear indication from Chris Janssens that Lierse were going for the win, as at that time Cercle were leading 0-2 in Leuven. The 19-year old striker nearly scored with his first touch, just prodding the cross from Ayew wide of the post. Lierse were looking the team that most wanted the win. Bekoe after a good run beating several Mechelen players, then shot too weakly at goal. Maric claimed a penalty when brought down as he surged into the penalty area. Tv replays showed it would have been a somewhat harsh call if given. Just past the hour the home side threatened twice in quick succession. First substitute Destorme missed his kick, then Cordaro saw a long range effort sail just wide.
YRKV Mechelen scented blood and put the Lierse goal under a spell of pressure. Kawashima forced into a fine save to deny De Witte. Lierse countered well though. Bekoe slalomed betwen four defenders, but Biebauw bravely dived at his feet to thwart the danger. Bekoe somewhat harshly receiving a yellow card for sliding in on the keeper. In the 72nd minute Lierse again close to a goal, bur the toe poke from Bekoe from Bidaoui's pass lacked power.
The final offensive came from the home team. Cordaro came close on three occasions: firstly missing from close range, then firing a magnificent volley just wide, and then with probably the best chance, missing the target from a great scoring position. Lierse came also close when from a lovely cross from Maric, Adesanya fired wide.
In stoppage time De Witte came close to a winning goal, his shot blocked again by an outstanding Kawashima. So the match ended 1-1. In Leuven, Cercle Brugge conceded three goals in the last fifteen minutes to lose 3-2. Both Leuven and Lierse are 1 point behind Cercle going into their meeting at the Lisp next weekend. Cercle will win the group if they win at home to Mechelen, but Lierse and Leuven can win the group with any Cercle slip up.
YRKV Mechelen: Biebauw, De Witte, Van Hoevelen, Chen, Wilmet ('75 Ruiz), Iddi ('65 Van Tricht), Vandenbergh ('46 Destorme), Gorius, Biset, Cordaro, Karahmet
K. Lierse S.K.: Kawashima, Bidaoui, Hairemans (50' Adesanya), Bekoe, Claasen (84' Elgabas) , Frans, Gaxa, Ayew, Wils (75' Huysegems), Saïdi, Maric
Booked: 27' Bidaoui, 29' Karahmet, 55' Saidi, 66' Bekoe, 73' Biset, 86' Van Hoevelen
Goals: 9' Biset 1-0, 45' Claasen 1-1