Standard Liege traveled to Kortrijk on Saturday night in search of their first win of the season after picking up just one out of a possible 12 points at the start of the new campaign. They fought back after going down to a first-half goal but could only muster one of their own, thereby having to settle with sharing the points as the contest against KV Kortrijk ended in a 1-1 score line.
Carl Hoefkens’, the Standard Liege head coach, made a few changes after falling at home to Cercle Brugge last week. One of those changes was his American winger Marlon Fossey, who by his own admission, had not been playing up to his own standards. He did come on in the 65th minute, when a double substitution was made, along with Dutch striker Noah Ohio, who is also a usual starter.
After the pre-game fanfare, including a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, the action got underway and KVK started off on the front foot, catching the visitors off guard and their defense in disarray. In just the fifth minute the referee was pointing to the spot after a sloppy challenge on Cardiff City loanee Isaak Davies by Merveille Bokadi. VAR was consulted and although the foul stood, it was adjudged to have happened just outside of the box for a free-kick instead of a penalty kick.
The visitors played like they would rather have stayed on the bus, giving Kortrijk most of the possession as well as 11 shots and seven corner kicks, with most coming in the first half. It only took the Kerels 24 minutes to take the lead when, yet again, les Rouches gave the ball away and this time paid the price. Davies found the ball at his feet in the middle of the 18-yard box and accepted the gift of sloppy defending by smashing it into the top left-hand corner of Arnaud Bodart’s net.
Standard were relieved to hear the halftime whistle and probably wondering how they survived the 45 minutes and conceded just the solitary goal.
To start the second half, it seemed as if the teams had swapped uniforms in the locker room because les Rouches in the second half, played like Kortrijk in the first half. Three minutes in Aron Dønnum should have been celebrating his first goal of the season when Zinho Vanheusden delivered a very precise, long ball to him in an advanced position, but the Norwegian midfielder could only slam it into the side netting from the wrong side.
Oluwaseyi Ojo finally got into the game for Kortrijk and fired a very good shot, except for the fact that it just shaved the outside of the post to deny the Englishman a bit of glory. Just a couple of minutes later, on the hour mark, Tom Vandenberghe was called upon to make a sudden save from a deflected Standard shot.
Japanese midfielder, Hayao Kawabe was then called off the bench in the 60th minute and Fossey joined him on the field five minutes later. Things drastically improved for les Rouches, but not before they almost went down another goal when Arnaud Bodart did a bit of fancy keeping by barely getting a touch on Ojo’s shot that he sent right to the feet of Abdelkahar Kadri, but the Algerian was moving too quickly and missed his chance at an empty goal.
The next goal came at the other end however from the Japanese midfielder. It came from a corner kick that was delivered right to the foot of Kawabe who scored on a volley for the equalizer in the 73rd minute.
Both sides kept pressing forward in search of the winner but it was not to be and left Kortrijk and Standard Liege still looking for their first victory of the 2023 – 2024 season.
“It was a hectic game,” Fossey told Yanks Abroad after the dust had settled. “It was a game of two halves. In the first half we were a bit slow and scrappy on the ball. In the second half we were on top but unfortunately we couldn’t get the winner but we competed.”
The Los Angeles-born former Bolton Wanderer is accustomed to being in the starting eleven but understands the coach’s decision.
“Coming off the bench is harder than starting, definitely. It’s a comfort business and to be honest with myself I wasn’t playing well for the last few weeks. Gilles (Dewaele) had been training well, so the coach gave him a chance to start and I couldn’t complain. I just have to be ready when I’m called upon.”
Fossey seemed to be at a loss to explain Standard’s poor form, where they are finding a win hard to come by, while only managing two goals in five games.
“I can’t keep blaming the fact that we have a new team,” he stated. Maybe it’s just a lack of confidence at the moment because we haven’t been getting wins.
I think when we get that first win, things will change a lot, for sure.”
Les Rouches will be back on the field of play this weekend at home when they welcome newcomers to the Pro League, Molenbeek. The Brussels team has so far recorded two wins and two losses.