Laniers face turned into an ugly shade of purple, as his murmurs instantly stopped. Rushing to Manager Marleys side, who is standing by the touchline observantly noting the momentum of the match, before whispering a few words to the manager.
Marleys eyes opened wide, as he stared down the touchline at Mr Cardot, who is calmly dictating the game, with him occasionally barking out instructions to slow down the play to insert their dominance. The pot-bellied manager had a tense look on his face, but he nevertheless told Lanier it was inevitable something like this would happen sooner than later. Some people would be bound to take advantage of Leroys disciplinary record against them. And it seems the Lens No.5 has done just that.
Marley shook his head. ”What has happened is in the past. Whether Leroy is booked or not, we would stick to our plan. It is the present moment that counts. ”
Marley had, on more than one occasion, directly assured the members of the management group, that the objectives of the team were still unharmed and would be carried out fully.
Lens enjoyed their long spells of possession, making the best use of their time with the ball to carve out opportunities for their strikers. Exploding up and down the flanks, Lens aggressively found their Wing-Backs which were played into a dangerous position by their Midfielders and Inverted Wingers.
On several occasions, the Le Harve Left-Back, Arbelaez, did well to dislodge his opponents offensive lines by swiftly tackling the ball from his opponents, particularly the overconfident Lens Right-Back Jason. Lanier managed to keep most of his opponents at bay.
Though several moments caused the temperamental tactical coach Lanier to worry, the long spells of uninterrupted possession from Lens had him sweating to no end. As RC Lens attacked down the wings, he would feel his heart beating faster, and his breathing intensified, as he believed one of the attacking Lens players would just somehow, somewhere, find a goal to break the deadlock.
Marley, in an effort to calm down his players, simply stared at the match, occasionally voicing his dissatisfaction with the players, and reminding players to be wary of their body positioning when marking their opponents.
Sébastien settled into the tempo of the game, vividly commentating on the game from his location. ”Lens with the ball. Passing it between their Deep-Lying-Midfielder Toro and Ball-Playing-Defender Salmon. Jean Cardot was evidently pleased with their domination on the pitch. Holding the ball with long durations. But when will a goal be scored? The ball, to Midfielder Toro, back to Defender Salmon, who lays it to his partner Zakharova. ”
The Defensive Duo of Salmon and Zakharova enjoyed their touches on the ball, passing the ball between themselves with composure and a fantastic show of technique. This normally wouldn be the case as Strikers and Wingers alike would normally intensely press their positional counterpart opponents. Centre-Backs and Full-Backs met with immediate pressure from the attackers is a common occurrence given the trend of pressing high up the pitch.
Though this couldn be applied to the match, as Striker Benoit Leroy, the small-framed Striker, sat deep from the oppositions backline. With no ambition or eagerness to press the Centre-Backs to win the ball.
Salmon, smelling this lack of aggression, took full advantage of this development and blatantly passed the ball between himself and Zakharova. If there was a graph that showcases the amount of touches on the ball, it was without a doubt the Lens Centre-Backs.
Salmon, who used to be a Midfielder but later converted to a Defender, has a unique skill set from the other available players in his position, in that he has the vision, composure, and technique to spot a pass well before it occurred.
Leveraging this ability, Salmon along with Zakharova, would often dictate the play and start their offensive plays with accurate balls to their teammates, with the Wing-Backs bearing the brunt of the assault. Even though the duo was more effective from open play, they still looked to exploit the space inside of their oppositions half, with Salmon occasionally dribbling further up the pitch to take a shot at goal himself.
Though Le Harve managed to limit Lens strikers influence in the match, particularly preventing him from even having a slither of touch on the ball, and winning 44% possession of the ball, it was incredibly evident that this came at a sacrifice of their offensive threat, limiting themselves on the back foot and defending for much of the game.
Salmon observed the situation on the field, his skillsets in technical attributes helped him to a certain extent, yet before he even received the pass from his teammate, he scanned the pitch, observing every detail that is unfolding before him. With his focus taken up by the players that are available for the pass. He was hesitant to pass straight to the Midfield, as they were immediately challenged for the ball, with Le Harve aided by the help of Leroy who dropped deep to help the midfield battle.
But, his keen sense found the Le Harve Left-Winger was slightly off-positioned, with him looking relaxed, too relaxed for a player that is on the pitch. He looked at his teammate Jason, who is already making eye contact with himself. A message he is long used to: that Jason wants the ball.
Salmon dribbled the ball forward, before taking one last look at Jason and performing a beautiful back-spinning long pass that passed straight over the Midfield.
”The Duo of Salmon and Zakharova dictating the play. Passing amongst themselves. OH! what a pass by Salmon to find the run of Jason Henders on the right flank! ”
Seeing this pass, Jason immediately moved towards the space that the ball had delivered him, with the RC Lens Right-Winger immediately cutting inside to cause a huge dilemma for the Le Harve Left-Back. There was an overload on the Le Harve Left Flank, with Arbelaez being outnumbered 2 vs 1.
Ricardo Arbelaez, the Spanish Left-Back, had his eyes popped wide by such a sudden change in intensity. Whereas the Lens offensive pattern was originally patient and methodical, Salmon suddenly changed it by performing such a direct pass that caught him out by surprise.
The Spanish teenager cursed frantically as he braced himself for the attack: ”Chevalier, mark your men! ”
The ball came looming overhead and it inched ever closer to Le Harves left flank. Arbelaez looked in front of him, towards his man-marked opponent Bo Kyu-Bong, the Korean Right-Winger, as well as the threatening run of the aggressive Right-Back Jason Henders, who is quickly overlapping on the outside of the Kyu-Bong.
The ball inched closer. Does Arbelaez fight for the ball, or does hold his ground and slow the attack, and keep Bo Kyu-Bong, and perhaps Jason Henders, under control?
His hesitation almost proved to be his undoing, as Bo Kyu-Bong aggressively dived in, anticipating Arbelaezs left-footed attempted clearance of the on-rushing forward. And, as Bo Kyu-Bongs outstretched foot closed in on the ball, the Koreans first touch managed to poke the ball past the panicked plunge from the young defender, delivering the ball directly to the feet of his partner in crime, Jason Henders.
Sébastien grew excited, his words spoken faster. ”Kyu-Bong first to get to the long pass and lays it off for the onrushing Henders. Lens with the ball! The right-wing is open! Arbelaez is left in the dust as he can only watch the No.2 dribbling down the wing. ”
The ball was tantalisingly close to the edge of the Le Harve area when Jason had his touch, and, thus, his timing, all wrong. He swerved in a way that Arbelaez was unable to track. The ball went past the Left-Back, with him almost losing his balance from the quick exchange of passes between the Korean Winger and the American Right-Back.
No sooner than the ball had been delivered to his feet, Henders showed his quality as an attacking Wing-Back. The energetic Jason Henders took it in his stride and unleashed a fierce right-footed cross that delivered the ball right into the penalty box. Le Harves persistent defending was suddenly broken through.
Lanier was agitated on the sideline, yelling frantically the second the attacking movement started. ”Re-Group! Re-Group! ” Cardots eyes showed and glistening spark as he prepared himself for the celebration.
The Le Harves backline rushed into the box, as their positioning was all wrong thanks to Arbelaez being beaten on the flank. Bodies rushed forward from the Lens team, and Le Harve responded by throwing more players that rushed back to help the defence.
The ball fell to the feet of Senegalese No. 10 Sekou MBengue, who was excellent throughout and created quite a few chances for his team. He received the ball inside the Le Harve box, and took the ball on, with him instantly placing the ball in front of him with the intent to shoot.
The Le Harve defender dived into the direction of the shot, placing his entire body in front of the No.10 in hopes of blocking the shot. He gritted his teeth and braced himself for the impact. But the Senegalese Winger saw it coming, with him taking a side step in front of his marker, losing the the defender on the ground before taking a powerful shot on goal.
”The ball delivered by Henders. Into the box for MBengue. HE SHOOTS! AHH JUST OFF THE CROSSBAR! ”
Cardots screaming shrieks in complete juxtaposition with some English mix, as loud as they could be, contained more gasps and excitement than Marley, who almost covered his eyes in horror.
Almost immediately after Cardot had screamed his despairing shout, the ball ricocheted to the right side of the box. Defenders scrambled to the location of the rebounded ball, desperately attempting to clear it. But Le Harve was surprised. The ball wasn right next to where the defenders were, as another player was exactly where the ball rebounded.
José Jordão was the one the Le Harve defenders struggled to pick up, due to the distinct lack of balance in his game. He lurked the Le Harve box, waiting patiently to pounce on the rebound. The Portuguese Striker had an eagle vision, presence obscure to the unwary. The frantically tried to stop of Portuguese, but all was too late. The Le Harve Centre-Backs could only look on helplessly as Jordão faced an open goal.
Keeper Faria had no choice but to pick a side. He shouted a warning to the defenders to cover the right side of the Le Harve goal post, in a bid to limit where the Striker could place his shot. Farias eyes had barely shifted as he noticed the Striker lined up his shot, while glancing at the left side of the Le Harve goal.
The French Keeper noticed that glance, and timing when Jordão would hit the ball, made a desperate dive to the left of the goal post, almost clambering off the side of the post.
But he failed to make the save, Jordão sent the keeper the wrong way, with the Striker chipping the ball. All the effort he put into his movement and positioning was gone, as he took a half-volley, with a slight zig-zag in his movement.
”BUT THE BALL FALLS TO THE FEET OF JORDÃO. HE SHOOTS! GOAALLLL!!! ”
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