For the last few seasons, the promoted teams surprise on the first match day. Two years ago, OHL – relegated after finishing dead-last the past season – even beat record-champions Anderlecht. Westerlo had a chance to follow in that tradition and win against a team on the rise in Belgium, Lokeren. The newcomer versus the up-and-comer, who doesn’t love a match-up like that?
Lokeren has an outstanding attack, and was rearing to show their skills, taking Westerlo in the clinch from the get-go. They charged at the home team, and a goal seemed to be only a matter of minutes. Someone did score in the 15th minute, and it was Westerlo’s Maxime Annys, making the net ripple on his debut. The away side was in the ropes, and the knock-out punch wasn’t far off. The victory came a step closer when a penalty was given, but the referee decided to revise his decision.
Eager to still force a win, Lokeren came out in search for the equalizer, churning out one attack after another, but all too slow and predictable to threaten the home side, who were defending exceptionally well, with the 23-year old Schuermans, also a debutant, keeping one of last year’s top strikers Harbaoui out of the game. In the final minutes, the scores were levelled, were it not for the cross going over the back line.
And so Westerlo defeated Lokeren, and got their first three points in the first division, cementing the Belgian tradition of promoted sides serving up a surprise on opening day.