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Colin Crawford is a museum worker with a well cultivated taste for the arcane and unusual. Buy him a cup of tea and he’ll talk about anything to do with soccer.
After giving us the history of Angers last week, Colin watched them over the weekend – we assume for the first time ever – and this is what he found…
Some quick thoughts on the whole set-up before getting into the game proper. I didn’t think much of the Angers kit. It was a pretty straightforward white number with a thick black stripe down the sleeve and black cuffs. It wasn’t offensive, but looked a little drab next to Montpellier, who have orange in their colours and thus immediately look more exciting. It was, however, made by Kappa, so points for that, and the socks were excellent.
The stadium had a terrific colour gradient on the seats, but the only reason I could see it was because it was pretty empty. I know that Angers aren’t exactly a huge draw, but for the opening game of the season to be that quiet must be worrying for the club and the league as a whole. Special mention for the 25 or 30 Angers fans that made the trip. Shirts off, flags waved, songs sung; a grudging respect for the extent of their love for the club.
As for the game itself, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. Ryad Boudebouz of Montpellier was by far the best player on the field, and his goal in the 8th minute showed why a lot of bigger clubs around Europe are taking a look at him. It was an ugly bouncing play before it got to his feet at the top of the box on the right, but he used the run of a team-mate well to buy himself some time and space and the curled finish inside the left post was sumptuous.
Angers themselves had set-up in a 4-1-4-1, giving out three debuts in the starting XI. The wonderfully named Baptise Santamaria was sitting in front of the back four, whilst Famara Dhiedhiou started up top and Karl Toko Ekambi was on the right wing. The two central players, Cheikh N’Doye and Pierrick Capelle were given a fair bit of freedom to join the attacks, with Capelle opting to buzz around the edge of the area and N’Doye looking to drive into it. The full-backs would occasionally push up, but on the whole it wasn’t necessary, as Toko Ekambi and his opposite number, Gilles Sunnu were providing the width and the main avenue for possession.
Angers actually had the ball in the net in the 38th minute, when Capelle swung a ball from the left flank into the top of the box. N’Doye was there to knock it down for Toko Ekambi, who was coming in from the opposite flank, to apply a neat lobbed finish into the net. It was, correctly, blown down for offside, the winger having got behind his defender a little too early. Toko Ekambi looked the most likely to either score or create something all game, and he had a solid chance in the second half. He and Sunnu had switched sides, encouraging them both to cut inside with ball, and he did just that, making a run of 15 yards or so before letting loose a solid shot that was parried away well by the Montepellier keeper.
As for incident, that was pretty much all she wrote. Angers did bring on Billy Ketekeophomphone and Nicolas Pepe in the second half, hugely upping the terrific haircut index, Ketkeo notable for looking like an escapee from a screamo band. Unfortunately neither player was able to live up to their follicular reputation and the game ended 1-0 for the home team.