DAVID SMITH - Sunday, May 13, 2012
A second-half Charles Kazlauskas goal was the difference on Thursday night, as Helmond Sport gave themselves a leg up in their promotion playoff series with FC Eindhoven.
Kazlauskas started on the right side of a three-man front line, picked up one of the ten yellow cards shown by the referee just before halftime, and was pulled from the game with two minutes remaining in regulation in favor of defensive muscle Zarko Grabovac.
The two previous meetings of Helmond and Eindhoven during the regular season had produced just one solitary goal, making the more attacking approach from both teams from the opening whistle somewhat of a surprise.
Eindhoven forwards Serhat Koç and Youness Mokhtar were regularly troubling the Helmond defenders with their quick runs, although fortunately keeper Bjorn Sengier did his part to prevent the visitors from scoring.
On the other end, Kazlauskas forced the Eindhoven keeper in to a save late in the first half, which only foreshadowed his heroics which would come after the break.
Seven minutes into the second half, Jeffrey Altheer launched a long free kick into the left side of the area, and Kazlauskas hit a fine header from near the upper corner of the six-yard box past the lunging keeper for the winner.
Apart from cloe call by Emrullah Güvenç five minutes later which nearly doubled Helmond's lead, neither team threatened throughout the remainder of the game, allowing the hosts to take the 1-0 win for the home crowd.
The teams will meet on Sunday afternoon in Eindhoven to play the return leg, with the winner of the series to meet either VVV-Venlo or SC Cambuur with a trip to the top-flight on the line.