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Friday, February 18, 2005
Haarlem vs VVV Venlo
Eerste Divisie - Friday February 18, 2005
Haarlem Stadion
On a cold and rainy night in Haarlem, Earnie Stewart and VVV Venlo played rude guests for a 2-0 victory that maintained their third place status in the Gouden Gids Divisie.

Adrie Koster's boys earned the spoils thanks to goals on either side of intermission from Bas Jacobs and Rik Platvoet.

U.S. mainstay Stewart had a strong evening on Minahassastraat, and made way five minutes before the final whistle.

While the end tally certainly could have been more comfortable, Haarlem never looked overly willing combatants – tactically or technically.

Venlo had the Lions pegged back in their own den from the get-go, with right winger Bernard Hofstede causing the early anxiety.

The former PSV Eindhoven prospect made Haarlem wingback Mart van Geldorp look foolish early and often, finally earning a free kick on the right edge of the area.

Stewart delivered a pinpoint serve far post, but Jacobs sent his powerful header just over the bar.

The American international looked threatening moments later, streaking into the left side of the area from a Platvoet flick.

The Haarlem defender did well to front Stewart on the slick turf and the #10 shirt was forced to retreat to the wing to set up possession.

The hosts finally made a little noise near the quarter hour with Geoffrey Verwey skipping past a tackle to race down the left unopposed, but his weak cross was easily dealt with by Frank van Kouwen.

The Venlo central defender was rock solid on the night, directing traffic from the back as well as making the odd incisive burst forward.

Jacobs might have felt like he could have done better on a pair of half-chances, but he would christen the scoresheet on 18 minutes with a helping hand from the Yank Abroad.

The lively Hofstede suffered another foul on his wing, and Stewart offered up the perfect restart for the Jacobs to nod home clinically.

Jacobs nearly doubled the lead a short time later after Van Kouwen was tripped on a foray up the middle.

The goal scorer blasted the indirect free kick on frame, and Haarlem keeper Eric Heijblok didn't so much save it as much as he had the ball stun him in the chest and carom to safety.

Stewart would track back to clear trouble at the other end, scooping up a partially fanned Jamal Dibi shot and dribbling towards midfield.

Haarlem attacker Patrick Krop collected a corner kick to curl wide from 20 yards, and it was to be the home team's closest call of the night.

Things got worse for the Lions as halftime neared, with Roy Wesseling forced to substitute for both Dibi and Verwey inside a seven-minute span.

If the Haarlem boss gave any kind of talk during the break, it had no effect and VVV continued to carry play.

Jacobs again turned up in prime scoring territory, but couldn't quite turn himself the right way to fire from 15 yards and was dispossessed.

Any relief felt by Heijblok was ruined two minutes later when Platvoet struck for a picturesque capper.

The VVV forward barely outraced the keeper to a neat Marcel Meeuwis lob feed, but it was enough time for him to stab a clever outside-of-the-boot chip across the line.

From there on out, the visitors seemed content to back this one into the garage and Haarlem generally seemed willing to let them.

"I've never come to play a team that was playing at home, and didn't want to do anything," Stewart told YA postmatch. "Even when we were 1-0 up, we played the ball around the back for like five minutes and they didn't even have one guy come up to attack us."

"I'm happy that we won. Bad game, but it doesn't really matter. It's about getting the points and getting to where we want to be."

Venlo, who trail also victorious Heracles Almelo and Sparta Rotterdam, will welcome northerners Cambuur Leeuwarden to De Koel next Friday.

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