Vice champion Union did not get past Sint-Truiden on the opening match day. The team from Brussels initially gave a poor impression and also fell behind after a header by Hayashi, but a wonderful flash from Simon Adingra gave the visitors a point after all.
Vice champion Union went on Saturday evening on the artificial grass of Sint-Truiden in search of the full loot in the first game of the ‘confirmation season’. Although a lot had changed compared to last season: not Felice Mazzu but Karel Geraerts directed his men, and we no longer saw Casper Nielsen, Deniz Undav or Kaoru Mitoma on the field. The latter two were replaced against STVV by newcomers Dennis Eckert Ayensa and Simon Adingra, while Lynen was allowed to start a game again for the first time since his serious injury at the beginning of October at the place of Casper Nielsen.
With STVV, Union was immediately presented with a formidable opponent: Bernd Hollerbach’s troops finished last season with 23 out of 27 and have not lost in the competition since January. The vice champion had been warned.
Hayashi nods well
We also saw on the field that Sint-Truiden is in a good flow. The Truienaren were enthusiastic and were certainly not inferior to Union, which could threaten for the first time via a header from Burgess. But at the first real chance of the home team it was immediately hit: Hashioka painted the leather on the head of compatriot Hayashi, who did not give Moris a chance. 1-0 for STVV.
It was all a bit more difficult at Union than last year. The good intentions were there, but the execution often left much to be desired. Just before half an hour, the team from Brussels did get the chance to equalize: Vanzeir easily cut his man out, but did not get past Schmidt in two times. Furthermore, there was little to experience in the first half: only a nice free kick from Koita, parried by Moris, and a delicious panna from the same Koita at Nieuwkoop are worth writing down.
The second half had to improve for Union, although it was immediately lucky when Teuma’s fatal loss of the ball was not punished. Furthermore, the second half was not very smooth: the sloppiness at Union piled up, Sint-Truiden hardly got into any problems. In minute 62, the visitors could threaten after all: Ayensa swung through the defense and lashed out, but he gave his kick too little curl.
Geraerts intervened more than twenty minutes before the end: 18-year-old Arnaud Dony, who had been snatched from STVV this summer, came between the lines. The home crowd treated him to a stinging flute concert. It certainly seemed to give Union wings. Anyway, Union: it was Simon Adingra – hired from Brighton – who forced it all alone in the 71st minute. The Ivorian first handed out a delicious panna to Konaté, then got some fresh air during a health walk through the Truiense defense and then curled the leather nicely past Schmidt in goal. A gem of a goal.
However, Union did not go further than that: it demanded more and more possession of the ball, but it was no longer possible to create opportunities. At the very end Union even got away very well: Nieuwkoop mowed down a broken through Brüls on the edge of the sixteen, but the Dutchman got off with a yellow card. Brüls’ free kick deviated and got stuck in front of goal, but Anthony Moris still pulled out with a phenomenal parade to prevent the 2-1.
Sint Truiden: Schmidt, Al-Dakhil, Hashioka, Konaté, Koita, Hayashi (86′ Kaya), Kagawa (74′ Bruno), Bauer, Boya, Leistner, Brüls
Union: Moris, Kandouss (40′ Sykes), Burgess, Van der Heyden, Nieuwkoop, Lynen (69′ Dony), Teuma, Lazare, Adingra, Vanzeir (88′ Salah), Ayensa
Goals: 22’Hayashi (1-0), 71′ Adingra (1-1)
Yellow cards: 33′ Burgess, 52′ Lynen, 85′ Sykes, 90+4′ Nieuwkoop
Referee: Jonathan Lardot