”Jordão, the Portuguese striker, scored to take the lead in the game. After only 24 minutes. It was a sublime piece of play from the American Right-Back Jason Henders, and a series of mistakes from Le Harve defenders in front of the Le Harve goal that ultimately, with a bit of good fortune, allowed the Portuguese Youth International to break the deadlock! ” Sébastien commentated in a joyful demeanour, his mood excited by the exquisite piece of play from the Lens teams.

Jordão, sporting a large diamond tattoo on his right arm, lifted the euphoria of the RC Lens fans. He rushed to the away fans section, enjoying his time in the limelight, with himself performing a knee slide for everyone who witnessed that goal.

”A moment of sheer magic from the Portuguese player. The Lens players and fans go wild! ”

Lanier felt disgruntled by this type of result. Even though the game was still in the first half, the Le Harve fans were jumping around, desperate for the 1-1 draw to happen in the first 45 minutes, just so that the results are still in fine contention.

The tactical coach from Le Harve looked frustrated by conceding, with him furiously stomping the ground as if there was an insect right beneath his feet. For him, and for the supporters of Le Harve, this was not just another result. It was a result that could mean something.

Commentator Sébastian noticed the amusement from the Le Harve technical area and awaited desperately to shift the centre of attention from the goal celebration to the touchline antics shown by Lanier.

On the opposite spectrum, Manager Marley only shook his head in disappointment, but no large reaction followed by them conceding the goal. Instead, the manager opted for his usual pose, stroking his small goatee that hung under his chin. He closed his eyes, opting to not be fixated on what has already occurred, but on what they could do now. His mind focused as he pictured the play unfolding in his head chronologically, remembering every detail that happened which led to them conceding the goal. The best response is not to stress the past, but focus on the present.

Down the touchline, Jean Cardot ended his frantic display of emotions, finally able to calm himself down after confirming their goal. The score of 0–1 calmed his anxiety as he is pleased with them scoring early on. Himself being a coach that has witnessed teams mauling over ideas to defeat them as seen various matches end with different results. Though all have a pattern that he can remember. That when Lens has the goal advantage, they can then fully display their possession supremacy. They can then unleash their true game, with them unfazed by an urgency to break the deadlock.

Marley, like the rest of the players on the field, went back to his game plan.

”Don panic, don panic, for now. ”

He repeated those words to himself with conviction, as the Le Harve players and manager both echoed a similar message to themselves.

The technical staff continued to offer confidence to their players as they started with a kick-off from the centre circle. With no change of players from the Le Harve side, no change in tactics, and no instructions from the coaching staff.

The Lens technical team were also preparing for the next kick-off, as they are confident in their technical knowledge. They know that although an attacking mindset could lead to their undoing if they do not get the correct team selection, at this stage in the game, it would be wrong to substitute one for another, which could quickly lead to the tumbling of a great fortress.

The attacking intent from the Lens side undoubtedly diminished, as they allowed the Le Harve players greater time to regroup and settle with the ball. Lens was also less aggressive with their forward runs, with their Wingers and Midfielders much more happy to pass amongst themselves, even if it has no purpose in creating a goal-scoring opportunity.

The Le Harve side also seemed to have been satisfied with their roles, knowing that Lens did not offer the same sense of attacking danger as the previous 30 minutes. Though even if Lens don possess as much danger as the first half hour, they played even less intensely than before. The Le Harve players realised that so too did intercepting the ball became more challenging, with them finding that unlike before, it is even rarer to have even a slither of touch on the ball.

The Le Harve technical staff were also aware of this fact. The Le Harve team has always had a much more frugal passing style. A passing style that is built more on intuition and a lot of anticipation rather than inserting dominance with possession. But if the match continues like this, Le Harve will find it much harder to equalise.

Sébastien: ”Lens gaining possession back. To Desmond, to the feet of MBengue, and back to Salmon, who lays it off to teammate Zakharova. Lens casually recycling possession amongst themselves at the backline. With the way the match is progressing, the match is firmly in the control of RC Lens U-19. To you Horace? ”

Horace: ”Gladly. RC Lens is finally settling into its distinct style. By the way the game is unfolding, they will not be pressing too much. It seems Jean Cardot has decided to limit the offensive threat Le Harve can pose on the break. With plenty of men behind the ball and not throwing men forward blindly. ”

Sébastien: ”With the match clock now passed 40 minutes, Lens is well on track to lead the match to half-time… ”

Both Sébastien and Horace continued to discuss the match from the sidelines. They both also acknowledged the tempo of the match as it had reduced, with both former players understanding that the end of the first half was now soon approaching, which is aided by Lens leisurely passing.

As the minutes dwindled down on the clock, both coaches were busy sending instructions to their respective teams. With the halfway point approaching, both teams were now offering more differing intentions. Le Harve now looking to exert an attacking impetus to see if they could equalise before the half-time whistle. RC Lens turtled back into their half of the pitch, firmly denying any offensive chances generated by Le Harve. By now, it was as if both teams swapped identities. If Le Harves players wore the shirts of RC Lens, the supporters wouldn have even noticed the difference as they are now reversing their playing styles. The sky and navy blue players feverishly attempted defence-splitting attacks delivered from the Midfield, attempting to find behind-the-line runs from the likes of Benoit Leroy, Mauger Chevalier, and Mtupeni Eze.

The players from both teams understood the all-importance of a late equaliser could pose. However, the referee would have none of it, as the proceeding minutes last of the match saw many set pieces taking place as both teams played to their managers desires.

The Le Harve captain, Gérald Roys, positioned as the Anchor in front of the backline, acted as the deepest player in a Midfield Trio composed of himself, Crescenzo Rivera, and Papillion Séverin. The Trio were tasked with the all-important task of preventing any sort of attacks developing through the centre of the pitch, with them each tasked to man-mark their respective midfield opponent. This task became extremely difficult for Le Harves midfielders, as the ball was patiently played by their opposition and rarely played through the central spaces.

However, a chance came for the captain, as he intercepted a low grounded pass that attempted to find Jordão dropping deep, who tried to help out the ball retention by making himself open, away from the Le Harve Centre-Backs.

Gérald Royss first instinct, when finally getting to ball to his feet, would normally be recycling possession by playing it to his teammates. He was their captain, and it wasn offered without any consideration. Gérald is a midfielder that has been praised for his excellent reading of the game. And he is tasked to dictate the tempo of the match all by himself, with him being the pivot point through which all attacks go through. Every attacking play goes through him, he decides when their tempo should change, and he decides which side they should attack. He intelligently watches the entire pitch to predict where his teammates will receive the ball and will launch an attack if presented with the opportunity to do so. This was the moment in which Géralds anticipation and intelligence disregarded his instinctive nature, and instead located him in a situation that was full of potential.

Already before Gérald intercepted the pass, with him not even settling the ball in his control. Mauger Chevalier was lurking near the sidelines, waiting for the inevitable pass from his teammates. He was the star of the team, with him leading in both the goals and assists for Le Harve. And all eyes were on him for the opportunity to create a moment of pure magic. The French Left-Winger is an explosive presence down the flanks, with him being a dangerous man when he is one on one with his opponent. In fact, though Chevalier was only offered a few touches of the ball in the first half, it was enough to terrorise the heart of Jason Henders. Thus, it was only suitable for Henders to be tightly marking him, not allowing a single touch to go uncontested. However, with Henders dragged to the very edge of the pitch, the distance between the Centre-Back and Right-Back from the Lens backlines leaves a wide gap that could be threatening if not dealt with properly.

This. This was the location at which Gérald spotted, the gap in the unbudging Lens defence. With a punt, he kicked the ball with all his strength, hitting it far and above the midfield. The captain crossed his fingers, Gérald spotted this gap, but has HE spotted it?

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