On the last weekend of August many of the 8,506 entrants kicked off this seasons Coupe de France across the mainland and of course the other parts of France dotted around the world. I have again begun my quest of keeping FFW – and you all – up to speed on events this season as Nantes look to retain the trophy.
Every season there were a small number of games forfeited and marked as 3:0 wins as a side are unable to fulfil the fixture. Which must be frustrating for all concerned with the romance of the Coupe being removed before it action actually begins. The inclusive nature of the competition does mean some pretty small clubs can take part which I think adds a real spark proceedings. In my region – the Nouvelle Acquitaine aka the south west – games kicked off last weekend with the First round. The regional associations are in charge of organising the early stages and sometimes need to set up a pre-liminary round prior to the competition proper.
So to the action, there were also a few 12:0’s hereabouts with minnows losing heavily however one score did rather stand out… Monein FC, a D3 side from near Pau faced Entente Sportive Nay Vath Vielha, from Arros-de-Nay who are D1. The hosts have a rather nice little facility, according to every stadium geeks favourite app Google Streetview, with a plastic pitch. However, they gained little advantage from the surface despite scoring twice. Nay Vath however hit the back of the net sixteen (16) times! That many goals is remarkable in any game, averaging one every five minutes. It must have been difficult to decide when to check your phone or get a drink for fear of losing count!
On Sunday as I drove over 170 kilometres I had plenty of time to ponder again how big France is. This was despite in the early stages geography being considered! However, I was on my way to see Limoges Foot face Evaux Budeliere ES in a R3 v D1 clash. The hosts lined up in yellow as the visiting supporters wondered how many youngsters were left at the club that hadn’t lined up in the blue of the first team. A few of the lads who came in late last season were joined by others as the club captain and various others were missing from the fourteen. Paul Dupuy was wearing the armband while Kante and Okobe were the only starters who were in the side early last season. New signings Robert Aupetit, Faucher and Verdavaine started but otherwise it was players even diehards struggled to identify.
The hosts worked hard despite being hindered by an early loss through injury but they found it difficult to handle their well-schooled opponents. There were no real chances prior to the drinks break but duly refreshed Limoges closed down the home keeper and Kevin Faucher won the ball touched it by him and rolled it in. Limoges looked assured and their opponents struggled to string passes together. Just after the hour Oboke played in Faucher nicely who doubled his tally and the lead firing the ball across goal into the bottom corner.
Faucher hit a shot into the rock solid dry ground eight yards out but it bounced up and over before Verdavaine’s volley on the turn, from Llamas cross, smacked off the post as everyone waited for the net to bulge. In the eighty second minute the hosts had their best chance but Pardelinha failed to connect cleanly. In injury time Maurin – who’d caused problems to the hosts throughout – was pulled back as he skipped down the by-line without the Ref acting. The final whistle saw Limoges progress and a useful exercise for coach Fabien Daguin seeing more young players do well.
Last year I reported on my nearest side FC Pays Aredian – from Saint Yrieix la Perche – losing on penalties versus a side two levels above. Despite playing well the young keeper Dylan ‘Didi’ Mendil was clearly upset by the loss. He was between the sticks again on Saturday as the newly promoted hosts faced another side from two tiers above this time Regional 3 AS Saint Yrieix from the Charante. This clash of sides from towns with the same name was a first for me. Coach Julien Lemetayer had continued to work with and develop younger players and many of them had a good season under their belt.
It has been dry lately and dust was being kicked up as the game started. Neither side took control and despite giving away a few years to their visitors the hosts were not intimidated. The seventy or so fans had something to celebrate in the seventeenth minute when a bobble caught out the visitors keeper and Hugo Lajudie closed him down. Despite the custodian doing well to block his first effort the young wide man was able to put the ball in. Almost immediately after the kick off it could have been 2:0 but the keeper blocked a shot from hard working front man Visser. Moments later a Mendil moved wide to clear but his effort fell kindly for the red clad visitors whose number 7 put the ball into the empty net.
In the 24th minute the visitors had a great chance to take the lead when the ball hit a blue arm in the box. It was more ball played man than man played ball but up stepped a midfielder who struck the penalty low and hard but Mendil did well getting down to block the shot before the in rushing man skied his second attempt. Another key moment came when the visitors tall wide man wearing 11 with a hefty challenge that was so late it was better measured using a calendar than a watch! He was very lucky to only be booked.
The game remained evenly balanced and the booked chap showed good control just before the half before dragging his low shot across goal and wide. Both coaches will have been looking to gain the upper hand at the break and it seems Lemetayer did a better job when he saw his side have a good effort deflected wide in the 47th minute. The game was still on a knife edge when Matteo Visser got a goal his play deserved getting past a defender well before running in and popping the ball past the exposed keeper. The hosts held the lead longer second time around but five minutes later the 11 again did well finishing into the bottom right corner to make it 2:2.
The game remained open and a rattled visitor was booked for dissent. In the 86th minute the home side broke with three men but Visser and 12 just failed to take advantage. That wasn’t the last chance however as in the 92nd a defender deftly half volleyed a corner goalward from the far side over the keeper but not past a red shirted defender on the line!
So for the second season in a row the home players and fans prepared for penalties. Leading off the blues scored then Didi saved the visitors first. A blue then missed just wide before four hit the net. Didi got a strong hand to the next but it went in off the post making it 3:3 with both sides have taken four. At 5:5 a blue skied their sixth spot kick. Knowing he could win it the reds number 11 stepped up but Didi had other ideas diving to his right and knocking away his low well struck effort. Visser put his shot to close to the keeper so again the visitors had the chance to avoid an upset. However, Mendil saved his fourth penalty of the night! Both number 12’s scored before blue number 14 put away the next one coolly as if messing about in the park with his mates… This time the pressure was on the red 14 knowing he had to score to keep them in the competition. Facing Didi he skied it and the big keeper dashed gleefully to his onrushing teammates. After being heartbroken last year the big lad was the hero and that’s exactly what Coupe competitions are all about.