If you’re going to Ennnngggghhhhhiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeen, make sure to bring your Covid Safety Ticket, a Danish Dutch speaking referee and football boots that can cope with a swamp.
An odd arrival awaited us as we were told very quickly that our non vaccinated players would not be allowed to play which seemed strange as we had not heard of this rule. But by being very good guests we accepted this and informed our concerned players that they could not play.
This turned out to be inaccurate and a few minutes later we found out that this rule only applied to the bar which lead to a confusing start to things in quaint Enghien.Hadrien, Lolo, Brioche and John-Simon felt very much at home in the province of Hainaut. Our goalkeeper not so much but this was made up by the fact that the referee seemed to be from his part of the country (THE NORTH).
Royale Amicale Enghien is pretty much the biggest thing there is in Enghien apart from a church in the middle of the Main Square and the train station which has 5 platforms, yes FIVE.
The setup they have is lovely and the pitch looked amazing. After getting changed and setting up the team we headed out for the warm-up. We knew we were going to battle as Enghien are promotion contenders. Very quickly though we realised that the pitch looked good from a far but was far from good. One side of it was basically a disguised by grass swamp.
But for an Irishish team this would not deter us and we were keen to put on a show today for the many local fans in the stand, well side-line.
We had to make a few changes due to injuries and International duty. The line-up was therefore as follows: Neelen in goal with Hadri, Ryan ©, Thomas and Neil as are back four. Brioche was in the 6 with Julian and Ionut in from of him. On the wings we had Gabby and John-Simon. The local boy Lorenz was up top. The game started evenly and we were all a bit clumsy at the beginning trying to find our feet on this pitch. A few half chances either side but nothing really to write home about until around the 15th minute when we started to press the opposition higher. This really worked for us and we came close from long range through Ionut a couple of times before Lolo was released and tucked the ball home nicely. Unfortunately though Lars Von Mudineyes saw an offside position while standing in our half. This was not only unlucky but also undeserved as we were the better of the two sides. Just before half time the excellent Thomas pulled his hammy and had to be replaced. In came Ludghaigh and a bit of reshuffling. Neil slotted in to the centre back position while Gabby went into left back and Ionut went on the left wing.
Half time came and passed, it was also the shortest half time in history at around 39.03 seconds.
We started the second half in pretty much the same way as we had finished the first by pushing. We were getting more and more space too and we could sense that we could pull something out of the hat until the swamp got the better of us. A nothing back pass created a one on one with Neelen as our captain who still thought Copa Mundial’s is the best equipment for hiking lost his grip and this gifted the opposition with a goal. Nonetheless we were confident we could get back into this match as that was by far the closest they had come all day to our goal. In came Gineste for Julian and Brendan for Ionut.
The next 20 minutes were basically just us trying to open them up. They were lying deep and we were having to make the most of our overlapping runs to break them down. Unfortunately though their keeper latched on to all that we thrown at them. Brendan and Lolo came very close but as stated Jean-Antoine Prude-home saved all of our shots. In the last minutes we went with 3 at the back as Gabby limped off the pitch after suffering a minor hit. It was basically a lovely tackle on the ball. No evidence of a possible injury could be found on his leg after the match either!
So on came Alvaro and although we created another couple of chances we were not going to come back into this match. On one of their counters in the last minutes they concluded nicely to make it 2-0 and seal the deal. We deserved more in this one as has been the case in a lot of our matches but our performance was really up to scratch.
After we vacated the Baltic showers (the boiler was on the blink) we elected Brioche as man of the match again but we all know this was to impress his girlfriend Melissa who had come to cheer us on as had most of Lolo’s family, Matteo and Luis who seemed impressed with some of the setups the local schools had. After leaving Enghien we headed to the Funky Monkey after passing by a local very nice little bar called Le Carillon where we drank some Enghien Triples and some Silly beer. We’ll remember the performance and not the result. Much later flowers were being added in our hair on the day we’d been to Enghien!