It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t nice and it certainly wasn’t a particularly encouraging performance by OM. But they managed to pick up the 3 points thanks to a last gasp Rod Fanni goal, which many people will say was underserved. At the end of the day, you will take a victory any day of the week, but OM have much work to do if they are to rejuvenate themselves as a title contender or even a top 3 contender.
OM came into the match on the back of a 3 game winless streak, but on the face of things this seemed like the perfect opportunity to regain some form. Valenciennes weren’t exactly a team in particularly good knick themselves having obtained just 7 points from their last 8 ligue games. They also possess one of the worst away records in the ligue and were suffering from a few injury problems, the most notable to stud centre back Isimat Mirin.
Yes, this is a fixture which means a lot to Valenciennes, dating all the way back to match fixing scandals of the mid 1990s.But realistically OM would’ve expected to win this one fairly comfortably. Cheyrou, Jordan Ayew and Abdallah were all missing, but on paper the XI that took to the field should’ve claimed the 3 points with ease.
OM struggle in offence
It was anything but that though as OM struggled to break down VA all night and in general failed to create many chances of note. Possession wasn’t a problem for the hosts, but they just couldn’t slice through a defence which isn’t renowned for being the most solid in the ligue, especially without its main man Isimat. For the south coast side Romao and Kadir were given starts, whilst Mendes maintained his position in central defence. The encouraging thing for OM was that they looked fairly dangerous out wide. The full backs Morel and Fanni especially caught the eye by making some nice runs and putting in some teasing crosses.
OM were also extremely untroubled at the back in the first half and Valenciennes struggled to even muster an attempt on goal. But in the middle of the park OM were lacking spark and creativity, they just weren’t applying the pressure enough and the visitors would’ve always felt fairly assured that they wouldn’t concede.
Fanni delight at the death
The 2nd half was pretty much the same, OM controlled possession but failed to really create too much. Valenciennes actually looked more threatening too and managed to win a few set pieces, which is always a dangerous situation for OM. However, the hosts defended them much better in this match, which has to be a major positive. The match was heading towards a 0-0 draw but Elie Baup’s side struck a dramatic last gasp winner to send the Velodrome wild. In the 4th and final minute of stoppage time Jeremy Morel sent an excellent ball into the middle and Rod Fanni, who ran from a deep position, fought hard to scramble the ball into the net and win OM the game.
Fanni had minutes earlier missed OM’s best chance of the night when he put a shot wide as he was unmarked at the back post, however, the ex Rennes man made no mistake this time and his strike was effectively the last kick of the match. OM hadn’t played well but managed to pick up the 3 points. Yet again, a late goal has saved them this season and at least they can now go into next week’s Classico with a victory under their belt. With PSG likely to enter that contest 8pts clear, I think its fair to say a win at the Parc de Princes is essential in order to retain any lingering title ambitions.
OM player ratings
Mandanda 5/10 – Composed and assured when called upon, but he had little to do in this match.
Fanni 8/10 – Head and shoulders above anyone else on the field here and easily MOM. Was always the most dangerous OM player and came up with the crucial goal at the end.
Morel 6/10 – Lively and looked quite dangerous at times here. Put in a few good crosses and supplied the crucial ball which led to the winner.
Mendes 5/10 – Solid without being spectacular. He would’ve appreciated not being tested much here.
N’Koulou 6/10 – Very solid and put together a few nice passes which set up attacks.
Kadir 5/10 – Didn’t do too badly but struggled to get into the game a bit and faded in the 2nd half before being subbed off.
Barton 4/10 – Struggled here and just wasn’t his usual self. Got booked and was eventually subbed off. He failed to take control of the midfield.
Romao 5/10 – Solid enough without being spectacular, mopped up balls well.
Valbuena 5/10 – Got more into the game in the 2nd half, but before the break he struggled a lot.
A Ayew 5/10 – His dink pass proved crucial in giving the ball to Morel for the goal, but overall it was a fairly quiet afternoon for the Ghanaian.
Gignac 4/10 – Not really his day and nothing seemed to fall to him properly.