When Ostend won promotion to the first division a year ago, many expected them to tumble down again right away, and for a moment that seemed to be the case, until Belgian entrepreneur Marc Coucke took over and gave them the quality to stay afloat. Not only did they stay afloat, they started flying, winning play-off 2, the equivalent of seventh place. This season, they do not expect the same story to unfold, with their top striker leaving for Ghent. Without bringing in a decent replacement – they already bought two strikers well into their thirties – they might find it difficult to stay up, let alone fight for those top spots.
Lierse, on the other hand, has been a struggling club for the past few years, flirting with relegation at times, having done lousy transfers and trying out strange methods, such as having four managers at the same time. They have maintained their place among the sixteen best of the country, and have a decent chance at avoiding relegation.
The statistics were in Ostend’s favour, having beaten Lierse five times last season, but the game showed once again that numbers don’t decide matches. The home team attacked immediately, and twenty minutes in, newcomer Keita scored on his debut. Ostend took a hit, failed to recover, and conceded another not even five minutes later, Keita bringing down the axe a second time. After the break, Ostend, with Bjorn Ruytinx – one of the aged attackers I mentioned – sought to bring the fight to their opponents, but couldn’t turn up the pressure on a well-organized Lierse. Ostend winger Canesin hit the bar in the closing stages, but other than that, neither side created another chance. The game bled out, and Lierse kept the points home, sending Ostend back to the coast with a deserved defeat.