Matchday 12 saw a few changes in positions for the clubs at the top of the table. Given how few points separate the teams it does not take all that much; any amount of dropped points can see clubs drop down a few places.
In recent weeks the podium had not really changed all that greatly, but this week saw the pace setters Angers travel to surprise second place team Metz. Angers began the game well and had a couple of decent chances to score. Metz, meanwhile, were dangerous from set pieces and had the ball in the net only for the goal to be refused for a foul. A scoreless if fairly eventful first 45 minutes. Metz’s set piece routines would continue and one fantastic save from Gregory Malicki saved Angers. However, the Angers defence left Diafra Sakho completely unmarked and he headed home for his seventh of the season. Without some important saves and parries from Malicki Angers would have surely suffered more as Metz had several chances to increase the lead. And thus it finished 1-0. Metz taking the three points and the top spot in Ligue 2.
One side who could profit from Angers’ slip up could be Tours who welcomed Laval to the Stade de la Vallée du Cher. Laval have really struggled this season having lost important players in the summer and currently find themselves in 19th position. While the first half may not have produced any goals, it certainly was not for want of trying by both teams. Chances galore as Tours’ natural attacking game left the opportunity for Laval to counter attack. Still, no goals after the first half. Not for long though, five minutes into the second half the score was opened. Christian Kouakou was put through on goal for the home side and made no mistake, side-footing home. The chances continued to flow, both sides coming very close to a goal before ten minute from time Andy Delort dinked home nicely to secure the three points for Tours and allow them to climb onto the podium.
Another side looking to benefit from the shifts in the position was Troyes who were taking on Auxerre at home. In the first half both teams were guilty of missing guilt-edged chances. Furthermore, Georges-Paul Ntep showed his talent but was unlucky in striking the foot of the post after some trickery. On 26 minutes Auxerre would rue Ntep’s miss. The Auxerre defence was bisected perfectly and Ghislain Gimbert was left to beat the goalkeeper; soemthign he did with aplomb. Things would get better for Troyes when veteran Benjamin Nivet lobbed finish made it two nil on 51 minutes. Both keepers would be tested before the final whistle but the result remain two nil and Troyes climb up to two points behind the top three.
When there are winners there are naturally going to be losers. Unfortunately for Caen, it would be them who lost out this time around. They entertained Nancy and things would start brightly for the Normans as Aurelien Montaroup’s absolute rocket of a header shot into the top corner of the net after eight minutes. The lead would last twenty minutes when Karim Coulibaly deflected shot would fly over the on rushing keeper. Nancy would dominate the second half putting Caen in danger a couple of times before the pause. Nancy would make the pressure tell soon afterwards. A quite bizarre goal; the ball was headed clear from a free-kick before being hooked back into the area. The Caen defence all stepped up, not effectively enough as Joel Sami was left onside 6 yards from goal completely alone. He controlled well before having the easiest of finishes. Caen were gifted a chance to equalise but Faycal Fajr hit the bar from the penalty spot denying Caen the draw. 2-1 to Nancy it would finish. Caen dropping to seventh.
The pressure was certainly on Le Havre as they faced Brest at home on Friday night. Fourteenth going into the game as the team was suffering a slow start to the campaign. The first 45 minutes were, frankly, fairly inconsequential. Le Havre worked one decent opening but were thwarted by Alexis Thebaut in the Brest goal. Not enough to prevent the players being booed off by the home crowd. Things were better in the second half, but for all Le Havre’s good build-up play they were found wanting in the finishing department. That is, of course, a recipe for disaster in football. One of Brest’s only chances was to punish Le Havre. The goal came from a lovely drilled shot for the left corner of the penalty area from Nicolas Verdier. That would be that, Le Havre worryingly close to the dropzone and brest slowly but surely getting things going. The match was a pefect example of what the French would call ‘un hold-up’.
The other team that began the matchday on the podium were RC Lens who travelled to Clermont. The match finished goal-less which was not enough to keep them in the top three. Also without goals was sixth-placed Dijon’s match at Arles-Avignon. Nimes gave themselves a bit of breathing space from the bottom three as they defeated Chateauroux 3-1. Thus keeping Chateauroux in trouble. Istres stand a point above them after a 3-1 defeat at thirteenth placed Niort. Creteil moved into the top half of the table after a convincing three-nil victory over whipping boys CA Bastia.
Matchday thirteen sees four of the pretenders to the podium take on each other as Lens welcome Caen and Brest entertain Troyes. Le Havre will look to come back to winning ways with a trip to Corsica to face CA Bastia. Metz will look to preserve their lead with a trip down to Istres whilst Angers will welcome Arles-Avignon. Five points now separate the top seven so Ligue 2’s unpredictable side keeps up the tradition. Who would have thought that newly promoted Metz would be the leaders going into November? It is another tradition- Evian Thonon Gaillard, Arles-Avignon and SC Bastia have all achieved back-to-back promotions into Ligue 1. Why not Metz?
Simon Scutt, Get French Football News