A fallen giant in Toulouse Women and a blossoming newcomer in the form AS Monaco Women drew 2-2 in the first leg of their play-off promotion tie, as they both seek to secure a place in the D2, the second division of the women’s football league.
Toulouse won the D1 in 2002, and competed in the top division of the women’s game as recently as 2013, but have experienced a fall from grace and have competed in the regional divisions since 2020. Following a dominant regular season, they took their form into their play-off semi-final against ASMUR, defeating the side 15-0 on aggregate, including a 12-0 victory at home in the second leg of the tie.
In the play-off final, they come up against a blossoming newcomer, who enjoyed a 100% win record in their regular R1 season. The side were bought before the start of the season by American investment firm Peak6, who owned Irish side Dundalk FC until November 2021.
They endured a more difficult play-off semi-final, beating Bourges 3-2 on aggregate. Following that match, AS Monaco FF manager Stéphane Guigo categorised his side as the “underdog” going into the play-off final, since his youthful side were coming up against a former professional outfit.
That didn’t manifest itself on the pitch, however, as Monaco dominated large swathes of the match at the Stade du Prince Héréditaire Jacques, a stadium that nestles in the rocks just behind the Principality. The home side created the better opportunities but didn’t have the finish to match.
American Bree Fuller struck the bar early on, whilst prolific striker Laura Domecq spurned a 1-v-1 chance in a promising start for the so-called “underdog.” Against the run of play, Toulouse opened the scoring after a swift break, which saw Ines Hayaux’s pull-back converted by Sophie Rougé.
Monaco, however, were undeterred, but as the game settled into a rhythm, chances for both sides were at a premium. Wing-back Fuller, who was a constant thorn in Toulouse’s side continued to be a dangerous outlet for Monaco. She eventually got on the scoresheet in the second half, profiting from confusion in the Toulouse. Although the offside flag was raised, the referee never blew as it was clear that the final pass came from a Toulouse boot. Nonetheless, Les Violettes downed tools and Fuller took full advantage, dribbling into the box before finishing low to the keeper’s left to level the scores.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Monaco pushed for a second and would get it midway through the second half after a goalmouth scramble. Domecq forced the keeper into a smart save before Fuller hit the post on the follow-up. Amidst the chaos, the ball once again fell to the feet of Domecq, who made no mistake with her second bite of the apple.
Monaco were pegged back late on as an innocuous Sonia Roumiga cross caught out the Monaco goalkeeper, who had misjudged the flight of the ball. Both sides pushed for a winner, but neither side found it, as the game finished 2-2. It is all to play for in the second leg next Sunday.
Monaco coach Guigo told GFFN’s Luke Entwistle post-match: “We lacked efficiency. We knew we’d have to convert our chances, but that is part of the game. It’s up to us to alter the tie.”
He continued, “We approached the game as we should have and had the chances. Then we’re stung once, we fight back to level and then take the lead and then we finish 2-2 from a cross; it’s a bit frustrating. Monaco and Toulouse are around the same level so it will be won on efficiency and we know that we have to go there and win.”
The away goal rule is still in effect in the promotion play-offs, meaning that Guigo’s players will go to Toulouse having to chase the victory.