The Cup has its own rules, or so goes a proverb as it pitches David v. Goliath and the bigger one not always comes out the winner from the contest. In an even match, Paris FC have shown Valenciennes their limits with an improved second half performance.
French football only stops for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year – obviously 2023 is somewhat different since Ligue 1 started again on December 28, 2022 – the traditional kick-off to the new year is the French Cup. For one of the Parisian clubs, Paris FC the draw gave them a match against Valenciennes FC, a club from Ch’ti country, i.e. the North of France. Both play in the same division, Ligue 2, thus know each other reasonably well. The league game in October saw the visitors from the river Schelde take home the points with them and for large spells of the first half the pattern seemed to be set on repetition.
Slow First Half
The game developed slow, allowing Valenciennes to dictate the rhythm of play and benefit from some sloppy defending that have them a penalty after 16 minutes. The spot kick they were awarded was soft but crystal clear and even the referee could not do anything about it as he stood less than 10 metres away from the scene with a very good view on happenings. Jason Berthomier Cooley sent the keeper the wrong way. From here it was even more Valenciennes however, nothing they offered was necessarily punishing for Paris nor outright convincing. Yet, Paris had no foot in the game until the half hour mark when the referee once again pointed to the spot, this time somewhat hesitant as he seemed to wait for confirmation from elsewhere. When this did not materialise he gave the spot kick and Warren Caddy almost wasted it as the visitor’s keeper guessed right and got a hand on the ball but it was hit hard and the net bulged for the equalizer.
A Bollocking at the intervall
Logically, the crowd were joyous but the team appeared not bothered to pick up the life line for the rest of the first half of this game which cannot be described but a tedious affair. Not even the hundred ‘ultras’ could lift the crowd, let alone the team. The team talk must have been a right bollocking as Paris were coming out for the second half entirely turned around. Now it was them who dictated rhythm and pace of the match and awarded themselves with a couple more goals to take the score to 3:1 after 70 minutes. Of those goals the first must ring the alarm bells for Valenciennes since Paul Lasne had his first of a cross thwarted before he calmly passed the ball to the penalty spot where Mehdi Chahiri had all the time in the world to receive the ball, place himself to shoot and get the party on the stands started.
If this wasn’t enough just minutes later Paris could have scored again but the keeper conceded a corner kick which brought nothing. A substitute, Morgan Guilavogui, settled the tie for Paris with a superb finish past the keeper who had no chance.
This was it. After that Paris still dominated but could not add anything to the score. Valenciennes on the other side had gone awol after 55 minutes and weren’t bothered to get back. Their slowness which helped them in the first half was now ruthlessly exposed and exploited.
Kudos to the 25 or 30 Valenciennes supporters who made all the way down on a Friday night. Travelling 600km return to see such a performance requires faith and a die hard belief in the team, something the players did not pay back on the night.
All in all this was a match of two halfes and very different two halves they were.Good writing does not come by chance, so consider a little tip: